Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Fictional AltHistory #5: C&C: What if Tiberium Landed in Our World?

For those of you who know me very well (or have seen my avatar on Twitter), you will know I'm a huge fan of Command & Conquer. One of the first major franchises of the RTS genre, C&C had reached stellar heights, releasing hit game after game, until EA took over, released two pretty good games, canceled a few other promising ones, then absolutely bombed the franchise with *shudders* Command & Conquer 4 Tiberian Twilight and a free to play Generals that was ultimately canceled three years ago, and not a single word has been heard since.

But, at least there are three universes, eight great games, and a lot of expansions and mods to keep us all happy.

And yes, I said eight. C&C4 will never count.

Honestly, this picture was the only good that came out of C&C4


Eventually, over the next while, I want to go and try to make at least one AltHistory scenario with each of the major games of the series, similar to what I've done already with Fallout (Part 1 here). So, let's start with a simple one: what if Tiberium, instead of landing in a world as we see in the game, instead comes and lands on our current world?

So, first of all: no Brotherhood of Nod. We can go on all day about how Kane is an alien or a clone or the biblical Cane that is doomed to walk the earth forever, but since this is our world we are talking about, we can say that the Brotherhood does not exist.

I'm sorry Kane! It's not that I don't like you, with your bald head and menacing goatee and whole "come back from the dead thing," but... *shot*

The first meteorite with Tiberium lands in the Tiber River valley of Italy, hence the name, sometime in 1995. Scientists around the world are rather fascinated by the new discovery, but after people began to die after coming near or touching the crystals that began to form, it would take months of effort to eventually even get a sample to study. Over the next few years, more meteors hit the earth, spreading more Tiberium across the world. By 2000, there are dozens of impact sights, all having turned into large, green, crystallized expanses.

It was about this time that the first scientific studies of Tiberium are complete, and the results are released to the world. It has been found that the green crystal, while poisonous, radioactive, and has a habit of fusing to skin and mutating it's new host to create more Tiberium (leading to some horrifying animal and human mutations to those effected), is actually full of minerals that made it easily harvestable. Depending on where the Tiberium landed, it would absorb any and all minerals from the soil, sending roots deep into the Earth to extract and mutate into more Tiberium. It could, theoretically, be refined into whatever substance is required, while also providing a powerful energy source, many times more efficient and powerful than oil or nuclear power. However, more research would be needed before harvesting this new god-send material would take place.

During this time, efforts to contain or extract Tiberium begin, especially as it begins to encroach on major population centres. The entire city of Rome has to begin to evacuate, with the Italian government relocating to Naples, and the Papacy to France. Dynamite and fire are seen as the best way to slow the spread of Tiberium, but it only slows it. In many cases, within a week after a clearing operation has taken place, the Tiberium had already grown back, as the roots of the crystal were untouched. Efforts to literally dig Tiberium pods and root systems out are quickly seen as impractical and too expensive.

And honestly, who would want to get rid of these cute little green crystals?

By 2003, with most of the world's scientific community focused on unlocking the secrets of Tiberium, rudimentary extraction and refining techniques begin. Within months, Tiberium is made one of the major trading indexes in the world, rivalling gold and oil as the most valuable resource on earth. Eventually efforts to destroy or slow Tiberium growth changes to simply try to harvest as much of the crystal as possible.

But as more and more Tiberium is produced, and the infrastructure of the world begins to change, massive economic, social, and political shifts take place. With the massive infusion of wealth as the mineral is harvested and refined, subsaharan Africa experiences a major economic boom, as does areas like China, Eastern Europe, Latin America, and the deserts of Australia. New technologies, like Tiberium power plants and new production methods that makes Tiberium useful and, more importantly, non-leathal, are put into effect. But as Tiberium is easier to extract and refine than oil, and all over the world and growing larger and larger, soon nations like Saudi Arabia and Iran in the Middle East, Russia, Canada, and Venezuela that were dependent on exploiting their oil reserves are left with an overabundance in product, but fewer and fewer people to sell it to.

Unemployment in these countries reaches reach record highs, and only Canada, with help from their largest trading partner in the US and a more diverse economy, is able to avoid falling into chaos. Even Vladimir Putin (yes, he'll still be in power) wouldn't be able to reform Russia's economy before the government has to stop paying it's debts, and faces political and economic instability, that leads Putin into a series of dangerous geopolitical moves to try to shore up support at home. The invasion of Ukraine in 2013 is too much, and soon Putin is assassinated, and Russia falls to pieces. Hugo Chavez is thrown out of office by a coup in Venezuela, and Saudi Arabia, without oil money to support the regime (and the withdrawal of US support for a hardline, Islamist autocratic government) succumbs to warlordism and the rise of Islamic terrorist groups trying to carve their own section of the desert for themselves.
And for the hell of it: EVERYONE GETS DOUBLE BARELL TANKS!!
But even in nations like the US, the European Union and China that have large Tiberium deposits and can exploit it to their hearts content, the growth of Tiberium still presents huge problems. People have to be evacuated from areas quickly as Tiberium spreads unchecked. Most of the Midwest is turned into a alien, shimmering green wasteland, and masses of refugees are seen crossing the US for the first time since the Great Depression. The first recorded "Tiberium Storm" took place in North Texas in 2017, and soon the massive lightning storms that could knock out planes and electronics and spread even more tiberium were a common occurrence around the world.

Social unrest continues to grow as more and more people are forced from their homes and into refugee camps and into increasingly overcrowded cities, many of which are only expanding thanks to new construction techniques using Tiberium. The companies and nations that embraced (carefully, and in a specially designed hazmat suit) Tiberium early grow rich, while those that didn't have a meteorite land on their land suffer. Businesses that invested in Tiberium mining and extraction soon become massive monopolies, with such resources that even the US government, suffering from high unemployment, unrest, and social discord are unable to break up. By 2017, and the election of President Donald Trump, one of the early adopters of Tiberium extraction and on his way to being the first person to be worth $200 billion (and who most likely bought the election), Tiberium interests came to dominate the US, which was already on it's way to losing super power status due to the crisis at home.

And J.K. Simmons never became President. And he had such a great campaign...

The United Nations has been trying almost since Tiberium came to Earth to try to establish something to try to combat it, and won a success in 2009 when the first United Nations Agency for Tiberium Containment and Mitigation (UNATCM) was established to pool the scientific knowledge to try to stop the spread of Tiberium, and keep statistics of the world's descent. By 2020, over 40% of the world's surface had some form of Tiberium on it, and of the estimated 6 billion people on earth in 2000, over one billion people had died in 20 years from Tiberium poisoning, failing healthcare, war, famine, and civil unrest. Half a billion other people were forced to flee their homes. But it was guessed that about 75 million people around the world had not been killed by Tiberium, but mutated by it, and were still able to live in Tiberium infested areas, or even thriving. These people called themselves the Tiberittes (or more often, The Forgotten), but more derogatory terms emerged: Shiners, Crystalhuggers, Mutants. They were forced into areas of the world with dangerous levels of Tiberium to eke out a living, but the hardy Tiberittes managed to make a living.

Entire nations, like Italy, the former Yugoslavia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Central Asia, and half of Brazil are totally depopulated and exist in name only, or as small refugee colonies in other nations. Tensions between the refugees and those hosting them boil over many times. Riots in Germany and France by Italian and Spanish refugees, rampant shootings in the US between the "Tiberplaced," the locals, and the federal and state governments, and the "Shoot first" policy of China to keep out the displaced leads to infighting, war between weakened nations, and terrorism reaching a scale that even the Global War on Terror that President George Bush started in 2001 after September 11 couldn't stop. (By the way: the War on Terror ended in 2005 when Congress ordered the military home from Iraq and Afghanistan to help with Tiberium containment and evacuation). The succession of a new Coalition of American States in the US South in 2027, sponsored by Tiberium barons in the area, was uncontested by the US. Soon after, the US broke into other nations, and soon war broke out as refugees and land disputes between heavily armed former American nations went back and forth.

The European Union on the other hand finally went the other way, with a new, centralized union being Established, with London as the capital. The lack of Tiberium in the UK made the nation a beacon of hope in the world. Japan was also lucky, as was some of the islands of Indonesia, Madagascar, and Newfoundland. Tiberium was also found to not be able to grow in cold areas, so northern Canada, Scandinavia, Russia, and Antartica became major refugee locations, with new cities using new technologies to try to house, clothe and feed the masses. Massive floating cities were also built, though the sinking of New Paris in 2025 with 29,000 deaths put a damper on that project. Eventually, even though it was ill-advised, many refugees began to settle in areas with dangerous Tiberium infestation, if just because there was no where else to go. A more successful attempt to save humanity was the creation of off world colonies, namely on the Moon and Mars, as well as space stations that could hold thousands of people. But only a few chosen select were allowed to go here.

So... can we say that Tiberium is basically the new Roman Empire?

By 2030, it was finally discovered that sonic energy at a certain level could halt the growth of Tiberium, but not push it back. The wealthy and prosperous "Blue Zones" in northern latitudes and island nations, and they began to refuse refugees, turning into massive gated communities, with advanced technology and powerful armed forces, with 20% of the worlds population in 20% of the world's land. By this point, huge areas of the world are devastated by Tiberium, and divided into Yellow Zones (War torn areas with a lot of Tiberium, but over 80% of the world's population in only 50% of the world's land) and Red zones (areas only Tiberittes could live in, totalling over 30% of the planets surface), . Since the report in 2020, UNATCM believed that another billion people had died, with a full billion people displaced. Most nations that existed in 2000 were gone: Russia, the US, China, Germany, Australia (fully abandoned to Tiberium and Tiberittes) and many others, replaced with smaller countries that were fighting amongst each other. The UN itself was disbanded in 2033, though UNATCM continued to monitor the world situation until it was forced to close in 2045.


However, by 2060, even the Blue Zones was having tiberium encroaching on it: the sonic barriers was only enough to slow the growth of Tiberium, but not enough to stop it, and soon Tiberium was able to adapt enough to get around the sonic fences, and even growing over water. By 2100, the only humans alive were those that mutated to survive the hostile conditions, or those that lived off world. All of Earth was Tiberium.

And then the Scrin came...

Want to know how you'll have a bad day? These guys showing up.


And on that downer note... I think that's enough depressing cycle of video game Alternate History for today. And maybe the next Alt History will be less depressing! Maybe....

But what do you think? What would a world be like that is given an alien substance that could kill you or make you rich? Or if you have a topic or idea you would like me to talk about, please leave comments below, email me at tbguy1992@gmail.com, or tell me on Twitter @tbguy1992.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Flag Friday: Alternate American Flag

The other day, I asked on the Twitters and Facebooks what an American flag without Stars and Stripes would be like.

Well, frankly... No one knows. You could take one or the other off, but not both, it seems. But over all, most Alternate American flags are a variation of stars, stripes, red, white and blue.

So, here's my version.



The green is supposed to represent the boundless land of the US, while the blue is for the Mississippi and other rivers which unite the country. A simple eagle from the Great Seal, and the motto of "E Pluribus Unum" at the bottom, could possibly be removed.

I'll be honest, looking back at it just an hour after making it, it's so-so. Yes, I got rid of the stars, but the stripes in the shield are still there. But I like the idea of an eagle in the centre.

I guess the main thing is that, really, anything can be made into a flag. I just wish that people would try to make something other than stars and stripes when making America in Alternate history.

So what do you think? What would your American flag without stars or stripes look at? Leave a comment or send me a message on Twitter, @tbguy1992.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Short AH: Churchill Retires From Politics After Gallipoli

The First Lord of the Admiralty, Winston Churchill, was forced out of office after the failure of Gallipoli as part of the price from the Conservative Party to join an all party coalition under Prime Minister David Lloyd George. Churchill, in a rather characteristic display, went a step further and resigned his seat in the House of Commons in late 1915. The army gave him a temporary rank of Lieutenant Colonel, and was put in charge of the 6th Battalion of the Royal Scots Fusiliers. While in the trenches, Churchill was brave and devoted, leading multiple sorties into No Mans Land. By the summer of 1916, Churchill had developed a personal bond with his men, well known for his rousing speeches, his wit, and his willingness to do as the soldiers did. However, an artillery barrage in August, 1916 killed Churchill and other men of the Royal Scots Fusiliers. He was buried in a military cemetery in France, and Churchill's name became a footnote in the history of World War One.

Decades later, American writer Phillip Dick postulated an interesting alternate history scenario in his book Man in the High Castle, where Churchill didn't give up his seat in the House of Commons, and returned to the UK a few months later to sit in and speak after his brief sortie in the front line. In this scenario, Churchill would have been the one lone voice of opposition to the rise of the Nazi Party in Germany lead by Adolf Hitler, and would have pushed the UK government to confront him, increase the military, and end appeasement. The start of the war in May of 1939, when Poland was overrun and England and France watched and did nothing, would have been viciously attacked by Churchill, and when Hitler invaded the Low Countries and France in surprise, though they were neutral, the UK finally went to war. However, the British army was in no shape to send troops to France, and the nation fell in six weeks. Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, was disposed from office, and, this was the big change, instead of Lord Halifax being named Prime Minister, Winston Churchill was selected instead. 

Churchill, using his sharp tongue, his flair for the dramatic, and his strategic mindset that only failed him at Gallipoli, would organize the British to stand up to Nazi Germany, instead of meekly rolling over and signing the "Pact of Berlin" in 1941, where the Nazis and Britain didn't interfere with each other's empires, and would not have ended up fighting. Instead, Churchill leads Britain in a long, bloody war with Nazi Germany that for three years was mostly fought on the oceans and air. However, by this point the Germans were strong enough to invade England itself, and in a long, brutal Battle of Britain, Churchill is forced to a mountain redoubt in Scotland (making him the so-called "Man in the High Castle") where he continued to fight the Nazi's as they fully occupied England. Unfortunately, the story ends at this point, and the promised sequel never 

It was an interesting bit of alternate history, but many dismissed the plot as nothing short of incredulous, considering how the Third Reich currently dominates most of Europe, and the weakness of the leaders of Britain since the rise of the superior Nazi's. The fact that the British Empire hasn't been fully taken over is seen as Hitler's fondness of their history and empire, despite their weakness and political infighting over the past two decades. The thought that one man could have convinced the British to fight the Nazi's still seems rather implausible, even if you went back in time.

-Book Review, Man in the High Castle, 1984.



This scenario is taken from a suggestion made by James McGregor on Facebook! Thank you!

But what do you think? How different would a world without Winston Churchill really be? Or if you have a topic or idea you would like me to talk about, please leave comments below, email me at tbguy1992@gmail.com, or tell me on Twitter @tbguy1992.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Editorial: Could the Confederacy Survive Independence?

For being an Alternate Historian, I still haven't talked about the American Civil War much. Part of the reason is that while it's interesting, I just don't know enough about it to write a full POD/TL with a Civil War theme. Also, because of the current political climate in the US, I really don't want to start a huge flame war, even if it won't directly effect me. Being a Canadian has its advantages and disadvantages.

By the way... THIS is the actual Confederate National Flag. Actually, one of them. The "Stars and Bars" was a battle flag, not the national flag. The more you knooooowww...

But, I'm not going to talk about how the CSA is independent. Instead, I want to talk about if the CSA could actually survive as an independent state in the long run. And, to be honest, the prospects don't look good.

First, a few things I'll mention. This though came up when I recently started re-reading Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty by Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson. Their basic argument is that only society's that allow political and economic inclusiveness, i.e. allowing the vast majority of people to have a say in politics and have little to no barriers to participating in the economy will have constant, steady growth. On the flip side, "extractive" societies that have neither political or economic freedom or a large percentage of the population may have the illusion of growth, but eventually would collapse without "creative destruction," infighting amongst elites, or the destruction of the state by outside forces. Also, as AltHistorians would be pleased to know, they are very much supporters of the ideas of small changes changing everything. They call it critical junctures, but it's basically a Point of Divergence.

This is a very brief and simple oversimplification, but I want to use this model for explaining how an independent Confederate States of America would act.

Pretty sure this won't be the way. And, frankly, I don't give a damn what you think. This is my blog!

So, which is more important in the inclusive/extractive divide? The politics or the economics? Acemoglu and Robinson claimed that both are necessary, and you can't have one without the other, but that either inclusive politics can lead to inclusive economies, or inclusive economies to inclusive politics. But they also stressed that changes to make things more inclusive can also be reversed to make them extractive.

What is the Confederacy that would theoretically start in 1865 be then? It would, by far and large, be an extractive economy with minor inclusive, but mostly extractive politics. The biggest reason is slavery.

The CSA had about 9.1 million people in the 1860 Census, of which 3.5 million were African-American slaves. That's over a third of the population held in bondage, mostly on agricultural plantations growing cotton and other produce mostly for export. Of the non-slave population, there were only 132,000 free blacks, and then only 316,000 slave owners. For the most part, as a bit of a generalization, the slave owners were the political, economic, and military leaders of the CSA: the majority of the government and the top military leaders were either slave owners or fully agreed with the idea of keeping blacks down. So, that leaves 5.2 million white men, women and children in the rest of the country, and most of them were farmers, but mostly ill-educated, growing food on subsistence levels on land that wasn't as good as the wealthier plantation owners could purchase and grow cotton on, with whatever extra they made being sold in local towns for products they couldn't make on their farm.

After all, you can't exactly eat cotton. 

So, with a small percentage, like 2.89 percent, of the population owning another third that had no rights at all, this isn't exactly an "inclusive" economic of political situation. The CSA is also a major Agricultural nation, with "King Cotton," the dominate product being produced, mostly for export to European factories. The North, on the other hand, was rapidly developing industry, railroads, technology, etc. that was far ahead of the South, with a very small industrial capacity, with a large chunk of the workers being slaves. It's often said that the North basically out built and out produced the South in everything, even food production, during the war. This wouldn't change after the war.

But this is details that most people who have an interest in the Civil War knows. What I want to know is if the CSA could survive as an independent nation. And my answer is: if the CSA doesn't reform it's society and economy (free the slaves for a start, then not allow something like Jim Crow develop), then it wouldn't survive as an independent nation without outside support, say from the UK and France.

With a large chunk of the economy and the population owned by a small portion, who jealously guarded their rights, land and property, it's hard to see how the CSA could experience economic growth as the Industrial Revolution began to spread out from the UK and the USA around the world. If the plantation owners want to keep their slaves on the land, they wouldn't like factories that could offer a chance, however slim, to allow slaves to increase their standard of living (even if the wages are a fraction of the wages that whites would be paid). There would also be poor white farmers, muscled off their land to allow plantations to grow bigger to grow more cotton or food, who would go to the cities to industries, where they would be closer together, and eventually agitate for more rights. This is seen time and time again in history, as poor farmers/peasants left the land to the cities to work in the factories for a wage barely above living, who eventually demand, strike, and fight for better wages and conditions. The US, UK, Germany, France, Russia... they all had it. The CSA would be no different. But would a small elite that made it's wealth from plantations allow factories, owned by other people, to make fortunes and join them? Maybe, sure. If a middle class develops, would those same individuals allow them a bigger say in government? Perhaps. Would they allow slaves? Very unlikely.

And... uhh... *sigh* you know, it's really hard to make jokes about slavery. It's just generally depressing.

This doesn't even take into fact that, by the end of the Civil War, the UK and France had gotten India and Egypt to grow more cotton to make up for the blockaded CSA. Where before the war the South was the biggest source of cotton in the world, by the end of the war, Egypt had taken the title. So even if the South won, the cotton that was backed up in warehouses all over the South would be virtually worthless. King Cotton was no more.

So, unless the political leadership of the South, mostly powerful plantation and slave owners, were willing to free the slaves, and allow them to compete with poor whites in a broad, market oriented economy, the South wouldn't be able to survive economically. In the long run, tensions between the US and the CSA would most likely lead to more wars. Every decade after the Civil War, the US would grow more rich and powerful, while the CSA may have some growth toward an industrial economy, but never to the same degree. As long as the CSA has allies in Europe that aren't dragged into other wars (say World War 1), then the CSA could survive for a long time. But if those alliances falter, the US has a chance to knock the CSA down a few pegs without anyone in Europe caring.

Even if the CSA survives past a possible World War, it's unlikely they would make it to a second one, especially if a third of the population is still considered a second class (or slave) to the whites, and a few people control the vast majority of the wealth and political power, and their economy lags behind as the rest of the world advances in an industrial revolution.

This is just one theory, and mostly based on a book that some people agree with and some people don't. I won't get into that.

This is the book I'm talking about, and you can get it from Amazon here. It's not Althistory, but it can help to explain why things in history happened the way they did, which is important!

But what do you think? Could an independent Confederacy survive the Civil War? Or if you have a topic or idea you would like me to talk about, please leave comments below, email me at tbguy1992@gmail.com, or tell me on Twitter @tbguy1992.