bookmark_borderAlternate American map

Speaking of American maps, I recently found this nice map that shows how the map of North America would have looked if there had been many more independent countries. Not just the CSA and Texas, but also places like California, Five Nations and Vermont.

I like it. Somehow it makes it look more like Europe, no?

I do wonder, though, whether the USA in such a scenario would have had that many more inhabitants than the other countries. Wouldn’t many of them have been better at attracting immigrants on their own, and wouldn’t the US have been less popular?

bookmark_borderIn at the Death

I finally got round to reading In at the Death, the successor to The Grapple.

Whereas my objection to The Grapple was that it mirrored WWII in Europe too much, and especially based the CSA far too rigidly on Nazi Germany, In at the Death has the opposite problem (spoilers follow).

The great powers are throwing atomic bombs all over the place, rather than stopping the war after one or two. And after the USA occupy the CSA, they can’t think of any solutions other than either pulling out or annexing it. I would have thought an obvious solution given what happened after WWII in Europe would have been to form a Coal and Steel Community, tying the USA, the CSA, Canada and Quebec (and perhaps Texas and Mexico) into an ever tighter union, perhaps renamed in the 1990s as the North American Union.

I’m also disappointed no solution is suggested for the remaining CSA blacks, perhaps setting up a new country for them somewhere (that is, mirroring the creation of Israel in OTL).

All in all a disappointing book. I wonder whether it’s truly the final book in this TL, given that so many problems are never resolved at the end. But perhaps that’s because I’m European. Perhaps to an American reader, it makes sense to end the series with a crushing US victory so that a unified USA can be recreated as in OTL, just three generations later.

bookmark_borderLittle Sweden

Denmark was a staunch ally of France throughout the Napoleonic Wars and was duly punished during the war by the British (who bombarded Copenhagen) and afterwards at the Congress of Vienna, being forced to swap Norway for Swedish Pomerania.

Sweden, on the other hand, pursued a mixed policy, changing sides several times, losing Finland during the war but gaining Norway afterwards, and electing a French general as their new crown prince.

Given that Frederick VI of Denmark was descended from George II through both his father and mother, it’s a bit odd that he would be such a firm supporter of Napoleon.

All of this makes me wonder whether things could have happened very differently…

What if Denmark had changed horses at some point during the wars, preventing the destruction of the fleet, and ensuring that the sound wasn’t blocked by the British, thus ensuring that Sweden could have been attacked more efficiently while they were at war with Russia over Finland? And what if Sweden had been less volatile, ending the war on the wrong side and thus being less fortunate at the Congress of Vienna?

Could we have seen Denmark conquer Scania and Blekinge during the war, and demanding Bohus and Halland back at the Congress? Perhaps even getting present-day Gothenburg to make Norway and Denmark meet? A clever Danish king might have traded in Holstein (but keeping Schleswig) in return, thus preventing the war of 1864 (but Sweden would have lost this around that time instead).

It would have been a very different Scandinavia today: A big Denmark-Norway, all speaking one language, and a small Sweden, but probably more densely populated than today.

bookmark_borderChristian the Great, King of the Incas

I posted the following to the soc.history.what-if newsgroup back in 2003. It didn’t attract any attention, though, so I’m reposting it here now, since I think it’s one of my better ATLs.

PoD ca. 1518. King Christian II of Kalmar decides that fighting the Swedish rebellions will only harden their resistance. Instead, he sees possibilities in the Americas, discovered only a few decades earlier. He thus sends out exploration teams headed by the most able Swedish noblemen. The remaining Swedish nobility are easily silenced.

Around 1523, a small strong force including Gustav Vasa, a young but very determined nobleman, arrive in the Inca Empire, beating the Spanish by a few years. In the following years, they manage to conquer the empire. Gustav Vasa becomes the Governor of this new Kalmar possession.

In the 1530s, King Christian II is convinced (i.a. because he wants to divorce his wife and marry his long-time lover Dyveke instead) to introduce Lutheranism in the Kalmar Union. The whole Bible is translated (“Biblia, Det er All den Hellige Scrifft”), based on Luther’s German translation, into one language which forms the basis of the Kalmarian language to our days.

To deal with the American trade, a new city is founded in 1542 on the mouth of the Göta River: Christiania. This also helps to keep the Swedish nobility happy, since not all money now flows directly to Copenhagen. The vast amounts of gold of silver flowing in from the Inca lands helps finance more colonies while playing a strong role in the European power game.

1559: Christian II (“The Great”), King of Denmark, Sweden and Norway, of the Goths, Wends and Incas, duke of Sleswig and Holstein, dies, mourned in all parts of his possessions. He is succeeded by his son,
Hans II.

bookmark_borderThe Grapple

I just finished reading Harry Turtledove’s Settling Accounts: The Grapple, taking place during World War II in an alternate world where the South won the American Civil war. As usual, the plot moves along at a snail’s pace, the dialogues are unimaginative, and the whole thing is totally predictable as soon as one realises that the Confederate States = Nazi Germany.

So why did I buy it as soon as it came out, not even waiting for the paperback? I guess it’s like watching a sitcom. I read and enjoyed How Few Remain, and after that I always just wanted to read the next book in the series. I had not in my wildest dream imagined Turtledove would write so many books (How Few Remain, American Front, Walk in Hell, Breakthroughs, Blood and Iron, The Center Cannot Hold, The Victorious Opposition, Return Engagement, Drive to the East and now The Grapple).

But by now I need to know how it goes on, so I’ll preorder In at the Death as soon as I can. :-/