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Scenario Seeds from October 2008

Some alternate history ideas from my zine for the October 2008 edition of Point of Divergence

What if the Allies had not invaded Sicily?
The US saw the Mediterranean as a distraction from the real path to victory, which they figured was a thrust through northern France into Germany. The British wanted to avoid that thrust as long as possible while weakening Germany. The US was reluctantly dragged along into the North African invasion, followed by the invasion of Sicily, followed by the invasion of Italy, and the invasion of southern France, none of which they viewed as important. They figured “knock out Germany and the rest takes care of itself.” So what if the allies do the invasion of North Africa and then just focus on getting set for as early a D-Day as possible? I doubt that they could really pull off D-Day in 1943, but let’s say they focus on that as soon as the Germans and Italians are contained in North Africa.


Possible consequences: Could Mussolini still be in power after Germany folds? That would be interesting. Mussolini as the last Axis dictator standing? Hard to pull off because Italy was so weak in raw materials, but kind of fun to contemplate.


New York remains Dutch? Not sure how it could happen, but what are the consequences if it does?


Chicago never recovers from the great fire? What town takes over? What are the consequences?


Hurricane doesn’t devastated Galveston in the early 1900s? What are the consequences?


A hurricane devastates the oil producing regions of Texas or New Orleans (maybe both) in summer 1942 or 1943? What are the consequences to the war effort? DDay postponed a year? World War II continues into 1946?


The Ainu (northern Japan) establish regular trading contact with the Indians of the northwest coast? Let’s say this happens around 1100 AD. Not sure what the tech base was on the two sides by then, but if it was feasible what would the consequences be?


Manchu dynasty falls in the 1850s or 1860s? Who takes over? Does China remain unified? Do the Europeans try to partition it?


Mongol Japan? One of the Mongol invasions succeed.


Spanish Taiwan? Spain grabbed the Philippines. Why not Taiwan too? If (big if) they hang onto the islands until the late 1800s and there is still a Spanish American War, that could get very interesting.


Nazi Belgium? Chamberlain toyed with the idea of giving the Germans colonies as part of appeasement. He didn’t have British colonies in mind though. Apparently he was thinking in terms of giving them the Belgian Congo. I’m not sure how that would have played out, but the consequences of the Nazis in power over Africans would probably be pretty horrendous given their racial ideologies.


Germany takes Holland – September 1939? Lets say the Germans decide that the time isn’t right to take on the French and British. They can’t continue their buildup without another country to loot though. They need a victim other than Poland. They choose Holland for a variety of reasons, among which: taking it unhinges Belgium’s defenses. Maybe Japan takes advantage of the attack to go after the Dutch East Indies. Would Belgium stay neutral under these circumstances? Would Britain and France? Probably.


Germany takes Denmark and Norway – September 1939? Same rationale, different target.


Early partition of the Ottoman Empire? Western Europe was probably capable of partitioning the Ottoman Empire pretty much any time after 1700. Britain propped it up for many years because they preferred a weak empire controlling the area rather than their European rivals. When would a partition be most likely to take place? Who would end up with what pieces? How would the various pieces of the Ottoman Empire react?


The Barbary Pirates remain a threat into the 1860s? How do you make that happen? What are the consequences?


Britain rules the seas with an iron fist? What if the British had simply said after the Napoleonic Wars “If it floats it belongs to us”. You want to ship something it goes on a British ship at British rates. No British flag? It doesn’t sail.


Germany has a more successful Bolshevik revolution ala Hungary, in the immediate aftermath of World War I.As a result it is invaded by one or more of its neighbors, again ala Hungary. That would result in pieces getting carved off of it: Poland would probably get a bigger hunk of Silesia, Danzig, and parts of southern East Prussia. France would probably set up a puppet regime in the Saar.


The Ottoman Empire fragments in the early going and thus never becomes a threat to the Byzantines.

Excerpt: All Timelines Lead to Rome

This is a brief excerpt from my Nanowrimo novel.  For those of you who aren't familiar with NaNoWriMo, it's a challenge to write 50,000 words in the month of November.  I wrote a little over 73,000 words, not quite enough to finish this novel, but enough to get about three-fourths of the way done.

            “It’s a volume in Livy’s ‘A History of Rome’, one of the many missing ones.”
            Scott White looked at the picture of the scroll on the screen and shrugged. “You couldn’t prove it by me. I’m a New World type of a guy. I think it’s the Indian blood.” He looked at his boss, Chad Summers. “You’re sure it’s from TLZ?”
           “Almost sure. If it’s genuine, then yes, it’s other time-line stuff. It’s in too good a shape to be over a thousand years old. It would almost have to be that old if it was from our time-line, and probably more like fifteen hundred years old.”
          “So is it genuine?”
          Chad shrugged. “If the Boston Police Department didn’t think so they wouldn’t have sent it to the Bureau. Of course they aren’t experts on classical Rome, or on forgeries of Roman era documents, so there are no guarantees.”
         “Where did they get the picture?”
         “From a body. A Jane Doe. It was on a chip from a cell phone camera. Boston BP is sending their investigating officer. I’ll let her tell you the circumstances when she gets here.”
         “And that’s when?”
         “She should already be here.”
         Scott got up and walked to the window of the conference room. He looked out over the parking lot. The Chicago area office of the Bureau of Timeline Integrity occupied the third story of a generic-looking office building in a complex of similar buildings on the outskirts of the suburb of OakBrook. It was 10 am on Monday, and from the window Scott could see traffic snarled on I-53. “If she’s out there it’s going to be a while. Why are they routing this case here instead of the New York office?”
          “They want something to happen. If they sent it to New York somebody would just drip coffee and donut crumbs on it and stick it in a file drawer.
           Chad’s cell phone rang. “Darla Smith from Boston PD? Yeah, send her up. We’re in the conference room.”
          The only thing that said Boston Police Detective about Darla Smith was her jacket. It had “Police” in capital letter across the back. Other than that she looked like a twenty-something business woman, tall and slender in blue dress pants and blue and white shirt. She managed to look businesslike in spite of hair dyed a dark purple. There was a hint of the oriental in her face.
           Darla looked at the picture on the conference room screen. “I see you got the money shot there. I quietly showed it around and from what little we can check out it looks like it could be genuine.”
          Chad shrugged. “The picture doesn’t give us a lot to go on, but what we can see looks like it might be. If it was Aztec or Inca I would figure it probably is real. With Roman stuff the burden of proof gets a little higher.”
         “Scott here can get into the details with you. Darla Smith, meet Robert S. White. He likes to be called Scott and he takes it personally if you call him Bob. He’s an analyst here at the Bureau, and he’ll be the BTI liaison on the task force if we decide to form one.”
          “Why don’t you like Bob? Oh. Got you.”
          Scott grinned. “It doesn’t bother me now. First fifteen years it toughened me up a bit. The last fourteen and a half it hasn’t mattered much.”
            Darla pulled a package out of her briefcase. “So BTI. Bureau of Timeline Integrity. I hear you get the people the FBI and the CIA don’t want and the DEA and BTF can’t use.”
           Chad’s face went bland. “That’s what the FBI and the CIA might want to think. We own turf they wish they had. If it has anything to do with TLZ it comes to us. Say, I have people to see, tax dollars to spend. I’ll touch base with you after lunch.”
            After he left Darla looked at Scott. “TLZ?”
           “Timeline Z,” Scott said.
           “What happened to “A” through “Y”?”
           “As far as we know they don’t exist. Timeline Z is the only alternate time-line we can reach. It may be the only one out there.”
          “So why is it Timeline Z instead of Timeline A or Timeline B?”
           “It probably started out meaning something else, like the name of a 1960s science fiction show, but it kind of morphed into meaning Timeline Z when we had to get serious about it. How much do you know about TLZ?”
            “It’s an alternate reality where Europeans never reached the New World, and apparently where there is still a Roman empire of some sort, though I’m kind of vague on how that works or how close it could be to the actual Roman Empire we had. It’s been what? Over fifteen hundred years?”
           “Close enough. And from what I hear the TLZ version of the Roman Empire is an awful lot like the Roman Empire in the first couple of centuries AD. Which is one of the mysteries of TLZ.”
          “Why did your boss seem to think that a book from Rome is less likely than an Aztec one?”
          Scott pointed to a map on the wall. “See the yellow and red rectangles? Those are the portals we know of. Seven in the Western US. Twelve in Australia. One in Siberia. One in Iceland. So only one anywhere close to Europe. It’s policed heavily and well. I’m not saying you couldn’t smuggle stuff through there, but it wouldn’t be easy.”
           “Could there be portals you don’t know about?”
            Scott nodded. “Sure, but almost certainly not in Europe, and probably not anywhere useful.”
           “Why not?”
           “Power. Some places it’s relatively easy to break through the wall between the realities. Some places it would take all the power from a couple of nuclear power plants to punch a hole the size of your thumb. The weakest place in Europe proper is in Finland, but it would still take too much power to be practical.”
          “I thought the French had a portal.”
          “Sort of. It’s in the French Alps and they use half the power of a nuclear power plant to keep open a portal smaller than the size of my fist. It’s for national pride, not anything  useful.” Scott turned to the picture on the screen. “Your turn. Where did this come from?”
           “How much did your boss tell you?”
           “He said you found it on the chip from a cell phone camera. You found the chip on a Jane Doe.”
           “A headless, handless Jane Doe. She was obviously murdered. The body was mutilated to prevent identification.”
           “Where was the cell phone?”
           “We never found it. What we found was a removable chip hidden in—well let’s just say an orifice.”
            “I never heard anything about the body. You would think something like that would have hit the news.”
            Darla shrugged. “It did locally. The finding of the body did anyway. We haven’t released anything about finding the chip.          Unfortunately finding John or Jane Doe bodies isn’t that uncommon in most of our big cities. The chip gives us a shot at finding out who this one was, and maybe who killed her.”
           “What else is on there?”
           “About a thousand slides of twenty-something people having fun. I’ve glanced at all of them, but I need to go back through in detail.”
            “Nothing that identifies her?”
            “Not so far.”