More About Snapshot
dalecoz
Snapshot is still in the Kindle Scout program, with five more days to go. I have very little idea how it's doing. The only feedback you get is that sometimes the novel gets labeled "Hot." That has happened a few times for Snapshot, and it is encouraging, but it goes away after a few hours.

In any case, let's talk more about the Snapshot universe: Snapshots each sit in a snow globe-shaped artificial universe. Snapshots are usually connected to two other Snapshots, like a string of pearls. The connection is through vents high over a Snapshot's ocean.

Snapshots have their own histories. For example, by 2014 the US-53 Snapshot, taken near the end of the Korean War, has experienced sixty-one years since the Snapshot. For them, it is 2014 too. It is also 2014 in Europe-39, a Snapshot taken of Europe just before World War II would have started, in Europe-42, a Snapshot taken of Europe in late summer of 1942 and in Soviet-62, a Snapshot of the Soviet Union shortly before Cuban Missile crisis.

Snapshots can interact, but only by flying stuff to the other Snapshots through the vents. If two Snapshots aren't next to one another, they have to go through any intervening Snapshots to get to each other. New Snapshots can be created between existing Snapshots. For example, Europe-39 was initially next to North America-1780, a Snapshot taken during the waning years of the American Revolution. Then Soviet-62 wedged in between them. Twenty-two years later, Pacific-1984 wedged itself between Soviet-62 and Europe-39.
Snapshots are usually, but not always of a continent. Sometimes the Tourists stretch an island to continent-size, or make multiple copies of it to make the landmass the size of a continent. For example, Madagascar-24M is Madagascar as of 24 million years ago stretched so that it has a land area as big as North America from Alaska to Panama.

The Tourists don't generally interact much with their Snapshots. They will clean up radiation after a nuclear explosion or other man-caused event, but other than that, nothing humans do seems to change their behavior. They are impervious and seemingly oblivious to human actions.

Snapshots are inclosed in walls that look like more sky or ocean from inside the Snapshot. Those walls are flexible and appear capable of absorbing anything humans throw at them, including h-bomb explosions.

The walls around a typical Snapshot will extend into what looks like a dome, but is actually the top half of the "snow-globe". The 'dome' typically has a maximum height of a few thousand miles above the level of the land.

All inputs from outside the Snapshot are on a one-hundred year loop, so if, like US-53, the hundred years before your Snapshot includes a major solar storm like the Carrington Event, you get nailed with that solar storm every one hundred years. Same thing with volcanoes outside a Snapshot but close enough to impact it. US-53 gets to experience whatever came North America's way from Krakatoa and the Tunguska event again and again, once every hundred years. They also see the same comets in the sky every hundred years.

2014 Britain ISOT to 2014 - Part 2
dalecoz
As to 2014 Britain: They would have the capacity to defend themselves as long as their society held together--900 pound gorilla militarily. However, the physical ability to defend Britain would only be the first step. The Brits would have to replace everything vital that they imported, and do it fast. How many months worth of gas does Britain have on hand? How many months worth of food? How many months of ability to heat homes without imports? Probably not very many. How much of British industrial production is independent of imported raw materials or (worse yet) imported parts? And once they've managed to produce something, how much of the market for those goods is overseas? No guarantee that the overseas market would still exist or that British companies could fill it without fueling regional arms races, as the US and the European powers found creative ways to use the microprocessors that are in just about everything.

2014 Britain would know where to find everything they needed--food imports, oil imports, etc. However, they would run into at least two problems:

(1) Infrastructure: The world of 1884 would not have the infrastructure to get a lot of this stuff to Britain in the quantities the Brits would need it. No supertankers or container ships in 1884, so only the ones that happened to be in port at time of ISOT would be available. No shipping industry geared up to produce those kinds of ships outside of Britain and no harbor facilities in the rest of the world to take advantage of them. No trucks. No pipelines. In all likelihood a much smaller overall world merchant marine. The Brits and locals would have to build a crap-ton of infrastructure to start materials flowing to Britain. In the meantime, Britain gets hungry, cold and has massive unemployment because they can't build the stuff they used to export and in many cases there is no overseas market for it anyway.

(2) Finance: Britain's banks would almost certainly collapse. Think about this: how many loans would British banks have out to individuals and companies that don't exist yet, with collateral that hasn't been built yet? Essentially every loan made to an individual or company outside Britain wouldn’t be collectable. And then there would be all the British money invested in stock markets that don't exist yet in stock of companies that don't exist yet, which means that the British banking system collapses and a lot of wealthy British families are no longer wealthy. Then add in British companies with big investments in overseas subsidiaries. Oops. All gone now. The financial chaos would make the Great Depression look like boom times.
Read more...Collapse )

Modern Day Britain Finds Itself in 1884 - Part 1
dalecoz
Bizarre idea Present-Day Britain (Britain, surrounding islands and maybe Ireland) finds itself in the heart of the imperialist era, with an empire looking to the home islands for direction, with imperial rivals in Germany, Russia and France (and to some extent the US). It has whatever portion of the1884-era British fleet that was at sea at the time.

The ISOTed Britain has today's British ruling class, much of which considers the empire to have been evil. It has no facilities to maintain 1880s-style ships. It has current British dependence on the rest of the 2014 world for industrial goods, raw materials and export markets.

It also has the current British airforce, the part of the Royal Navy that was in or near port at time of ISOT and the current British army.
Tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of 1884 British citizens are abroad, not even counting people permanently settled in Canada, Australia, South Africa, etc, Many of them have planned to come home. When/if they do, they find a Britain that most of them will be profoundly uncomfortable with and which will be profoundly uncomfortable with them.

So how does this play out? The biggest empire in the world is now led by an avowedly anti-imperialist core. Read more...Collapse )

Coming Out of Stealth Mode: Snapshot
dalecoz
The short version: I'm looking for nominations for my new novel, Snapshot, as part of Amazon's Kindle Scout program. It's a super-fast process: Click the link, click 'nominate me'. done. If my book is selected, you get a free copy! https://kindlescout.amazon.com/p/332ZJ8YN22MIT

The longer version: I've been working on the Snapshot universe for a little over five years. I think it's a spectacular idea that will give me more than enough fodder for unique stories to last the rest of my writing career with plenty of stories left unwritten. Here is the back-cover blurb:

For eighty million years, the Tourists have taken Snapshots of Earth, exact replicas of continents. Snapshot people and animals quickly diverge from the real-world, creating a universe where humans and animals from much of Earth’s history explore, fight and sometimes meet themselves. In October 2014, the Tourists take a North America Snapshot, cutting everyone in that copy off from the real world, but letting them fly to Snapshots where dinosaurs roam, Indians rule North America or where Soviets or Nazis rule Europe. They may also confront the menace that lurks on the other side of a wind-swept Antarctic Snapshot.

Flying to another Snapshot has a cost. It means going through the Babble Zone on autopilot. The Babble Zone is a giant mental KEEP OUT in front of the passages between Snapshots. It acts on anything with a nervous system, forcing them to turn back. Going through it on autopilot brings on hallucinations real enough that you act on them, dredging up the darkest parts of the darkness that lurks in human minds.

The Snapshot catches Middle East Analyst Greg Dunne rushing toward Hawaii to join his wife, who just went into labor at a family reunion. The new Snapshot doesn’t include Hawaii, so it cuts Greg off from everyone he loves. It also thrusts him into the aftermath of a hidden, decades-old massacre, part of a struggle between Germans from a pre-World  War II European Snapshot and ranchers from a Korean War-era US Snapshot. The prize: a thinly settled North America-sized Madagascar Snapshot, much like the Wild West or the Australian outback. Whoever controls the Madagascar Snapshot controls communications between dozens of Snapshots.

Greg struggles to survive in this unique, cut-throat new reality, to remain faithful to a family he may never see again and to find a way back to his original Earth. He is caught between powerful opponents: A rancher who rode his part in a hidden massacre to almost unchallenged political power and the only survivor of that massacre, a woman driven nearly insane by the experience, but now in her own position of power, plotting revenge.

Their struggle plays out in the shadow of larger issues. The new US Snapshot finds itself dealing with an alternate US that is still socially and technologically in the late 1950s. It hasn’t had a personal computer revolution, an Internet revolution or a cell phone revolution, and isn’t sure it wants any of them. Worse, the Civil Rights struggle has taken a different and slower course there. In many ways, the new US Snapshot is confronting its past, some of it as great as we like to remember it, some of it so sordid we don’t like to remember it at all.

Snapshot is a fast-paced story of power and revenge set in a unique, marvelously rich universe with realistic ecologies, economics and politics.

City Boy At A Farm Auction
dalecoz
This was originally posted in December 2007, but since I'm doing something similar this November, I thought I should remind myself about what I'll be facing.

My cousin and I grew up together, but our lives took different directions.  I'm a computer person and an educator.  He was a farmer until his death a few years ago.  I'm a computer hobbyist and have a lot of computers and computer parts laying around.  His hobbies involved bigger things: Tractors, cars, steam engines.  Unfortunately that interest isn't shared by any of the surviving cousins or other relatives, so eventually my aunt took the farm auction route.  I hadn't been to a farm auction since I was a kid, but I had to play a major role in this one, and  I'm still recovering from the first half of it, three days later.


I took Tuesday off from work and went up there Monday evening so I could help with the last minute prep.

This was Tuesday:

Got up around 5:30 am on Tuesday morning and started bundling up. Lined jeans, snowsuit, thermal undershirt, heavy jacket, lighter bright orange 'don't shoot--I'm not Bambi' jacket, orange cap that drops my apparent IQ 25 points.  And heavy boots that no longer fit, no matter how hard I tried to get my feet into them. I scrambled and came up with a pair of basketball high-tops. I figured I might get by with them, and two pairs of socks, one of them super-heavy thermal things. Wrong.  City boy mistake.  When your feet get cold your whole body is cold.

Neighbor and I went out and opened the gates for the auctioneer and his team at 6:30 am, then went down to try to get a big farm machine called a Haybine started. The Haybine was the crown jewel of the auction, expected to bring at least ten thousand, and probably a lot more. Someone snuck in the night before and cut some wires, hoping that we wouldn't be able to start it and they could buy it for a third of what it was worth. They would then replace a ten dollar wire and resell the thing for what it was actually worth. Fortunately, my aunt's neighbor was a good enough mechanic to spot and fix the problem. Since I know little about farm machinery I got posted to keep an eye on the Haybine to make sure nobody tried that trick again.

I spent several hours babysitting the Haybine, with my feet gradually getting colder through the tennies before they finally auctioned the thing. It went for a good price.

This was a huge sale. My cousin (aunt's now deceased son) collected big stuff. There were 21 tractors, and 18 cars and trucks in the auction, almost all of them his. There were hundreds of other big pieces of farm machinery. We had worried that there wouldn't be enough people to buy all of this stuff. That turned out not to be a problem. The auctioneer gave out around 800 bidding tickets. They usually figure about three to four people per ticket, so there were probably between 2000 and 3000 people at this auction at its peak. It attracted farmers from at least four states.

The crowd was interesting to watch. There were young and old, big and small, but everyone there was Caucasian. No African Americans. No Asians. No Indians. No Arabs. There wasn't anything keeping people of any of those ethnic groups away except lack of interest, but they weren't there. There were a number of Amish at the sale, along with people from the local Mennonite group. Some of these guys looked like they were at an age where they should have been having one of these sales instead of going to one. Some were young and tough looking. I saw several guys who looked like they could have picked up the front end of a tractor and plowed the rest of the field that way if they had needed to--enormous, muscular guys.

There was also a wide range of temperaments and attitudes, from friendly, open and helpful to surly.  On the helpful side, a couple of my aunt's neighbors have been extremely helpful.  I don't know how they were able to do as much as they did while keeping their own farm going.

The auctioneer had quite an operation going. He had a trailer where you could buy food, water, and hot chocolate. The cold air made people hungry and he charged enough to make a good profit without making people feel ripped off. I had something like four of his three dollar sloppy joes during the day.

The auction started at ten o'clock. The auctioneer drove his truck along rows of machinery, with a crowd of several hundred to a thousand following. The guy had enormous stamina. He had someone sub in a couple of times for half an hour or so, but other than that he just kept going. There had been an ice storm a couple of days before, but people ignored the packed snow and ice to keep following him.

The sale was supposed to end at 5 pm, but when that time came there was still more to sell, so they broke out the flashlights and kept going. The neighbor and I stayed until the very end. The crowd gradually dwindled as snow began to fall and the wind picked up, but there were still several dozen people following the truck and bidding was still enthusiastic. By this time I had been on my feet and out in the cold nearly continuously for over twelve hours. I was moving slow. A lot of the bidders were still going strong.  These old boys are in shape.  Finally the auctioneer got through the last of the stuff a little after 6:30 pm. The neighbor and I walked back to the house through an increasingly heavy snowstorm. We got to the house, had a cup of hot soup, and I was asleep in under five minutes.

The Power of "Get Over It"
dalecoz
Recycle alert. I first posted this about seven years ago, but I think it makes a great deal of sense now, as it did then.
As a general rule, Americans don’t care much about history.  Those Americans who are fascinated by history find their neighbors’ disinterest in it annoying and a little scary.  At the same time, lack of interest in history usually means a lack of interest in multi-generation blood feuds, or in righting perceived injustices done to remote ancestors.  The prevailing attitude to old injustices is “get over it”.  That’s an easier attitude to have in a multi-ethnic society that has lost maybe one war (two if you’re a southerner) in the last two-hundred plus years and has never lost significant territory to an enemy (again, unless you're a southerner).  At the same time, in a way it’s also a triumph of common sense.  Nobody sane in the US seriously wants to go back and have another round with the Vietnamese even though we could probably win.  Nobody sane wants to re-fight the US Civil War or re-impose slavery.   The Vietnamese War and the US Civil War are over.  The losers lost and the winners won and that’s the end of it.  Not happy about the results?  Get over it.


If you look around the world you’ll notice something.  The real dead-end basket case countries and regions are usually the ones where old injustices or perceived injustices are most remembered and most important to people.  Look at the Middle East with its oil revenue poured into re-fighting its many age-old feuds.  Look at the Balkans and the way the countries there periodically tear themselves and each other apart.  Even within countries that are predominantly prosperous, groups that dwell on old injustices tend to end up in pockets of poverty.

None of this is to say that ignoring history is good, or even that ignoring old injustices is good.  The reality though is that both the villains and the victims of history are for the most part dead, or have one foot on the banana peel.  Anyone who played a decision-making role in World War II would have to be at least in their late nineties by now.  Anyone who was a soldier in World War II has got to be pushing 90.  Good, bad, villain, victim—if something happened in 1945 or 1948 the people truly responsible are dead by now.  If something happened 500 or a 1000 or 2000 years ago, not only is everyone involved long dead, but most of the descendants of both sides probably have some ancestors who were part of the other side.

The other reality is that dwelling on those old injustices tends to lead to situations where the guys who would normally be holding up convenience stores end up running around with AK-47s and RPGs in the service of one side or the other in the dispute.  When that starts happening on a major scale, anyone with brains and/or money heads for the nearest exit.  You end up with a downward spiral as jobs evaporate and people fight ever more bitterly over the remaining scraps of value.  And of course a whole new generation of injustices are created, which will undoubtedly be used to justify the next round of victimizations.
'Get over it' isn't the perfect answer.  It does have some downsides, but it does work.

An Adams family dynasty in the US?
dalecoz

Let’s say George Washington retires on schedule after two terms. He goes back home, but instead of dying two years later at age 67, he lives well into his 70s as an elder statesman, unifying the Federalist party. His Vice-President, John Adams, is elected in his place as happened historically. However, Washington's continuing prestige is enough to swing a historically very close re-election fight from Thomas Jefferson to Adams, in spite of the controversial Alien and Sedition Acts.

Adams is very much a Republic kind of guy, but with the Democratic/Republicans (main opposition to Adam's Federalists) out of power for another four years, they become more radically anti-federalist. They were already purporting to annul federal laws in some states. Maybe a radical fringe actually rebels against the Federal government or conspires with Spain to seize some of the western territories, as Aaron Burr has been accused of doing. Historically, John Adams lived another 20+ years after his presidency, so maybe he decides to run for a third term, given the radical nature of the opposition and maybe gets a nod from Washington to go for it. (Not sure if Adams would go for it, and really not sure that Washington would endorse him, but if the opposition was looking more radical, maybe Adams would run and Washington might support him). That part is both crucial and iffy.


So now we have basically the same party in power for the first twenty years of the US constitution, (though Washington was not officially a Federalist). We've had no examples of a peaceful change of power between political parties, and John Adams has a politically active son (who later became the sixth president). John Adams has Washington's nod for a third term. Maybe Washington dies before the question of a fourth Adam's term comes up, but the precedent of more than two terms is set. Adam's son, John Quincy was born in 1767, and didn't historically become president until 1825, so somehow they would have to close the gap between a fourth John Adams term, which would end in 1812, and John Quincy becoming old enough to be considered ready for the presidency. Probably one more John Adams term would do it, taking us to 1816. John Adams retires. John Quincy Adams takes over the family business of being president. Then all it takes is a politically active third generation in the family and the US is a monarchy in everything but name.

BTW: Both Adams family presidents were very committed to Republican ideal (the ideal of a Republic, not the modern party of that name) and would have been appalled at the idea of becoming a dynasty if the issue was put to them that way. They would have to be pushed into becoming a de facto dynasty by political pressures and fear of the opposition if this was going to happen.

True, historically the Federalist party kind of imploded, not too far into the game. On the other hand, the opposition would probably become more radical the longer they were out of power. And that opposition had Aaron Burr among them, which could lead to very destructive in-fighting. With a more extended time out of power, I can very easily see the anti-federalists sprouting a more radical, violent wing that tries to forcibly resist the federal government, and (as noted) maybe even trying to set up its own country in the west (as Burr has been accused of trying to do historically). The anti-federalists would claim that the American Revolution has been hijacked and has essentially recreated the British monarchy, while the Federalists would point to, and genuinely fear, the anarchy of the French Revolution and also fear that the anti-federalists want to bring back the weak central government of the Articles of Confederation.

This could end up as a very different US. Jefferson could get away with the Louisiana purchase because his credentials as an anti-federalist were strong. I'm not at all sure Adams would make the same decision, because he would be more vulnerable to accusations of abuse of power. So probably no Louisianna purchase, which meant a much smaller US, at least for a while. As to who would end up with the Louisianna purchase, I don't know. The British might invade it when they returned to war against Napoleonic France. It might become part of Mexico, though undoubtedly with litle real Mexican control for many decades. Maybe it would become a refuge for anti-federalist settlers carving out mini-republics in the chaos, with nominal loyalty to Spain or Mexico. Those republics would have nearly twenty years to develop under very tenuous Spanish rule before Spain was kicked out of Mexico.

The federalists had a strong anti-immigrant wing, partly a reaction to the excesses of the French Revolution. They would probably clamp down on immigration, slowing US population growth, at least until industrial expansion revealed the need for a bigger workforce.

So, a US that remains smaller and less populated, at least for the first several decades. A chaos of weak backwoods Republics hostile to the US government on the frontier. An increasingly entrenched elected Adam's family monarchy. Not a US I would want to live in, but it might be a fun place for a novel. What do you think?


Alternate industry and alternate pop culture
dalecoz
I've been toying with alternate technology and alternate pop culture to put into my alternate history novels. That can be fun, but I like to have good reasons why things turn out the way I have them working in my alternate histories. That's tough with technology and pop culture.

I don't know how typical the computer industry is, but personal computers took the path they did through a maze of eccentric personalities, most of them forgotten now. Chuck Peddle (inventor of the 6502) had a major influence, both by being a brilliant engineer and not nearly as good as a manager/entrepreneur. Death camp survivor Jack Tramiel (founder of Commodore) had a huge impact on the path of the personal computer industry in the early days, both because he had an excellent eye for where the computer market was going and because he could be a loose cannon who had trouble managing a large company effectively and would not let anybody else in his sphere of influence do so. If the computer industry is typical, the only way the specific shape, as opposed to generalities like: "computers would get smaller and cheaper" can be determined is by very detailed looks at the specific industry.


So many what-ifs in the early days of computing. What if Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak hadn't gotten together? Brilliant engineer/salesman meets hard-core engineer who could make the sales visions into reality. What if IBM had taken the personal computer market seriously and kept their operating system proprietary rather than giving Microsoft de facto control over it? What if a promising early kit computer manufacturer had figured out that their packaging was frying their chips before the problem bankrupted them? What if the CP/M and S100-bus guys had been able to make the move to 16-bit computers more effectively? What if online services like Compuserve, GEnie and Prodigy had expanded faster and become the way most people got online? There was a time in the late 1980s and 1990s that it looked like that might be the way things went.

By the way, CJ Carella does a lot of generally pretty good alternate computer industry and popular culture speculation in his New Olympus Saga books (Apocalypse Girl and Doomsday Duel), which surprised me because I didn't expect detailed alternate history world-building from a series that injected thinly disguises pulp and comic book superheros into our world in the 1920s and 30s as the point of divergence.

More of What I've Been Reading
dalecoz
I finished reading Steven King’s Joyland, which turned out to be quite good, thought there is little science fiction to it. The ghost of a murdered girl at a slowly declining amusement park and a college-aged kid discovering himself, all told by the college kid decades later, when he was in his sixties. It was very well done. Steven King is a strong writer. After I read one of his books I find my writing veering toward his writing style, which I'm not sure is a good thing for me. He writes well, but it's his voice, not mine and I'm not sure getting closer to his style makes my writing stronger. There are a lot of things you can get away with if you're Steven King that people won't accept from a lesser known author--things they won't trust the lesser-known author to get right.

From one of biggest name authors in the business to somebody I had never heard of, though that's probably because I haven't been trying many new science fiction authors for at least a decade. I picked up Hard Magic Book 1 of the Grimnoir Chronicles, by Larry Correia on the recommendation of someone I trust from one of the alternate history forums. Overall, it was worth looking at. The first two-thirds of it were pretty strong.  I did notice a definite weakening around two-thirds of the way through, but it did pick up and finished strong. The idea has some similarities to Apocalypse Girl, which I talked about a few posts ago, though the approach is quite different. Most of the population is normal, but a certain percentage have some degree of magical powers. The magical powers are supposed to have appeared before the Civil War.

I can't tell whether the author is working off of a reasonable time-line given the point of divergence, or if he just randomly tossed in historical characters. The very apparent and well-thought-out timeline was one of strengths of Apocalypse Girl and the others of that series, in my opinion.


In Hard Magic, I hit a spot in about 80% into the novel where right in middle of the climactic fight scene the big bad spouts off a very long paragraph of infodump that stopped the action entirely while the villain tells us about his childhood. That’ll cost him a star in my review. Well, maybe half a star. I guess that doesn't mean a lot since I don't give stars, but the exposition bit should have come long before that point and in easily digestible chunks. Oh well. Who am I to talk? Too much infodump is something I always have to fight against, so I can understand the impulse.

Hard Magic is still a good novel overall. It could have used tougher line-editing, with the most apparent flaw being a lot of places where the author uses ambiguous pronouns--“he” used to refer to multiple people in the same sentence. I can usually figure out which person each “he” refers to, but I have to slow down and parse the sentence, which pulls me out of the book. I also figured out a key plot twist about two chapters before it was revealed, which kind of spoiled it for me. Spotting the plot twist might be part of me being an author and reading books as an author--looking for authorial tricks. I would be interested in seeing if other people spot the twist early too.


I want to emphasize that in spite of those problems, this not a bad book at all. The action sequences move well. They're very compelling. The conflict is well established. The big bad and subsidiary bads are truly nasty--with enough depth that you understand their motives and really root for them to be defeated.  The heroes are not bad either, with considerable depth of characterization.

And, as a bonus, the novels features pirates in dirigibles, dirigible battleships and dirigible aircraft carriers, a huge air battle involving pirates boarding a dirigible. Very cool stuff.

World War II What-If: Axis Information Superiority Versus Allied Material Superiority
dalecoz
Historically, the Allies buried the Axis under an avalanche of steel--tanks, planes, artillery, as well as a superiority in manpower. If that wasn't enough, they also had information superiority, with high-placed Soviet spies in Germany, with Ultra, which read German high-level codes, the British double-cross system, which turned every German spy in Britain into a double agent and so on.

What if the Axis somehow got and retained information superiority? Was that possible and if it had happened, to what extent could it have offset the inevitable Allied material superiority?

German code-breakers did sometimes break into British and Soviet codes and their successes had an impact on the Battle of the Atlantic and sometimes on the eastern front. Let's make the point of divergence September 1939. In the confusion of the fall of Poland, Germany captures the bulk of the Polish cryptographic team that made most of the early Allied advances against the German Enigma machines. They also capture the material and machines the Poles used to decode the messages. The discoveries give German cryptography, both offensive and defensive, a huge shot in the arm. If Poland, with its limited resources, can break into German codes to the extent they did, how much more can France and Britain do?

The Germans pour resources into cleaning up flaws in their own cryptography and attacking codes of their enemies (and their own Allies for that matter, being Germans). The code-breaking war goes back and forth in 1939 through early 1943, but by January 1943 the Germans have achieved decisive information superiority. Maybe they help the Japanese fix the flaws in their codes, or more likely they restrict Japanese access to German secrets due to the known vulnerabilities of Japanese codes. They give the Japanese sanitized summaries of the Japan-relevant material, much like the western Allies did with Ultra information they sent the Soviets. Without Ultra helping the Brits pick up German spies the Germans have a working spy network inside Britain. They're reading most Allied codes, both of the Soviet and the Western Allies.

On the other hand, the Allies have amassed crushing superiority in material and the disparity is only going to grow. That sets up a clash between material superiority and information superiority. Which one wins?

I'm going to caveat this by saying that I have serious doubts about the Germans doing what it takes to gain that kind of information superiority and about them having a rational enough world view to take advantage of information superiority if they got it. Hitler often had key information and ignored it because of his ideological fixations. That being said, how much influence would Axis information superiority have on the course of the rest of the war?

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