Friday, September 23, 2016

Flag Friday: Flag of Utah by coolinwithcosta

For those who don't know, when the Mormons settled what would become Utah, they proposed a new state called "Deseret". It supposedly meant "honeybee" and even today you can still see bee imagery in many of Utah's state symbols. But what if Utah went all out with the bee imagery?
This is the "Flag of Utah" by coolinwithcosta. Its an alternate design that drops the current style of the flag (which is a just a blue background with the state seal) and enlarges the beehive in the seal. I especially like the 3D perspective coolinwithcosta used. It almost looks like the beehive is rising out of the flag.

The interesting thing about this flag is that it doesn't technically have to be from an alternate history. Many have lamented, like Cody Franklin, the lazy designs some state flags have where they just slap the state seal on a solid color background. Utah can still change their flag to something more imaginative. Although it doesn't have to be this flag, it is a good start.

Honorable mentions this week goes out to "The Divine Protectorate of Righteous Korea" by Xanthoc, "New World Holy Republic" by FlyingParafin and "Flag of Norwegian territories under the occupation of fascist Great Britain" by Mirror.

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Matt Mitrovich is the founder and editor of Alternate History Weekly Update, a blogger for Amazing Stories, a volunteer interviewer for SFFWorld and a Sidewise Awards for Alternate History judge. When not exploring alternate timelines he enjoys life with his beautiful wife Alana and prepares for the day when travel between parallel universes becomes a reality. You can follow him on FacebookTwitterTumblrDeviantArt and YouTube. Learn how you can support his alternate history projects on Patreon.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Remember, Remember the 6th of November?

Guest post by Tony Morgan.

On November 5th 1605 a major terrorist atrocity was prevented in England. If this had not happened the King would have been killed, Parliament and his government destroyed and the modern world would be a very different place.

Fascinated by the parallels between the England of 1605 and today – concerns over Europe, terrorism and government surveillance – I have written an exciting new alternate history based novel, REMEMBER, REMEMBER THE 6TH OF NOVEMBER, which explores the events of the so-called Gunpowder Plot and asks two questions – what if things had turned out differently and do we ever learn from the mistakes of history?

November 5th is a hugely important date in the calendar of the United Kingdom. Each year, the evening is filled with smoke from our bonfires and fireworks light up our skies. We call it Bonfire Night or Guy Fawkes night but what is it all about?

These events mark an annual celebration, not for what Guy Fawkes did but for what he was prevented from doing. On the eve of the Opening of Parliament, Fawkes was found hiding beneath the building, watching over an arsenal of gunpowder. The plan was to detonate this in the morning and destroy the building with the King, his sons and government inside.

Fawkes and his fellow plotters, led by the charismatic Robert Catesby, were Catholics, outraged at Protestant King James I’s policies of persecution of their religion, particularly as they believed he’d promised a more tolerant approach. Following Fawkes’s arrest, he was tortured and the other conspirators rounded up. Many were killed during the ensuing pursuit and in a bloody gun battle. The survivors, including Fawkes, were placed on trial for treason and eventually hung, drawn and quartered, a particularly brutal form of execution, in London.

But what if they had been successful? Would our world have been different? The answer is a categorical yes, and in many ways. In our reality, King James lived on for another 20 years. He was eventually succeeded by his son, Charles, who led the country into a divisive and bloody civil war, which eventually led to his own execution. If James and Charles had been murdered as intended by the plotters, could the English civil war have been avoided?

King James oversaw early English expansion into North America, as part of an embryonic British Empire. He actively encouraged the Protestant “plantation” of Ireland, sowing the seeds for centuries of sectarian hatred and violence. If he’d died in 1605, both activities may have turned out very differently. What would have been the impact on the history of England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, Canada, the US and so many other countries?

Of course, we can’t know for sure. The future would have depended on what happened next, immediately after the explosion of Parliament. Who would have taken control of England? Would the country have been able to remain strong and independent or would it have been invaded and subsequently controlled by Spain or France? All these factors would have been critical determinants for our own present day way of life.

If you’re interested in finding out more about the real events of November 1605 and exploring one view of how things may have ended differently, read REMEMBER, REMEMBER THE 6TH OF NOVEMBER and support two very good causes, as all profits made in 2016 are being donated to charity – and please let us know what you think.

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Tony Morgan is 51, a Welshman living in Yorkshire in England in the UK. He has taken a gap year from work at the age of 50 to explore a range of interests, including writing two alternate history based novels. He returns to his day job in IBM on 7th November 2016.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

U-234: Hitler's Last U-Boat...The Hail-Mary Pass to Japan

Guest post by Ian Hall.
Crew from the USS Sutton board the U-234 in May, 1945
On April 30th, 1945, the bodies of Adolf Hitler and his new wife, Eva Braun, were placed in a bomb crater and doused with petrol. Trusted guards were stationed to ensure their bodies were burned beyond all recognition.

In the wake of Hitler’s suicide, Grand Admiral Karl Dönitz assumed the position of head of state. Among his first orders was a radio broadcast for all submarines to surface and surrender.

My U-boat men, six years of war lie behind us… you have fought like lions… U-boat men, unbroken and immaculate, lay down your arms after a heroic fight…

Few knew the impact his simple statement made in the war against Japan.

U-234 being 'tugged' into Portsmouth, USA
In the middle of the Atlantic, on May 4th, German submarine U-234 first received a garbled version of Dönitz’s message. After much deliberation, six days later, they surfaced to affirm the news. Captain Johann-Heinrich Fehler assembled his crew and passengers, telling them of his intention to surrender to the Americans in Portsmouth.

The only objection to their surrender came from two Japanese Naval officers, Lieutenant Commanders Hideo Tomonaga and Shoji Genzo, who re-stated the U-boats mission; to sail to Japan and deliver essential cargo and weapons. To the Japanese officers, surrender was not an option. The German guards found the two officers on their bunks in full uniform; they had taken poison.

U-Boat U-234 was a modified mine layer, and the largest German submarine still in service, but for her last mission she had been turned into a cargo vessel. Packed into every section of the hull were goods destined for the defense of Japan…
U-234 being 'tugged' into Portsmouth, USA
  • A fully functional ME 262; the world’s first jet fighter.
  • A Henschel HS 293 guided missile; the world’s first cruise missile.
  • Parts for building a V-2; the world’s first intercontinental missile.
  • Several tons of blueprints for every weapon built, designed and considered by Germany.
  • 1200lbs of Uranium 235 (about 20% of the amount required for an atomic bomb).

ME-262, the fastest plane in the world
Sailors laughed when the Uranium was taken aboard, labeled U-235, they thought they had got the number of the submarine wrong.

Unknown to most of the world, the war had taken a sharp and decisive turn.

As far back as July 1943, the Japanese had one stumbling block to their own Nuclear-bomb project; they could not get enough U-235 to provide them with ‘critical mass’ (the phrase used to denote the amount of Uranium needed to create the chain reaction powering the explosion). Three Japanese submarines had almost got back to Japan with their crucial U-235 cargo, but all were sunk in the attempt.

After the surrender of the U-234, and hearing of its strangely-labeled cargo, Robert Oppenheimer himself searched the Submarine.

The US Uranium enriching plant was situated at Oak Ridge, Tennessee. Here, the German uranium was processed, and included in the Manhattan Project’s critical mass.

Three months later, in August 1945, the Americans bombed the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

In a material so rare on the earth, it is inconceivable that German Uranium, once destined for Japan's own nuclear program, was not used in the American bombs.

History…. You just can’t make this stuff up.

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Ian Hall's latest series, Avenging Steel, is available in paperback, and in eBooks of all formats. The streets of Edinburgh were his home... this is WW2 alternative history written from the heart.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

New Releases 9/20/16

You can support The Update by clicking the banner to your right or the links below if you are purchasing through Amazon!

Hardcovers

The Apostle Killer by Richard Beard

Set in a hazy Middle East that seems at once ancient and modern, The Apostle Killer features Gallio, an aging, hardboiled investigator who has one last chance to save his career: He’s got to prove Christ’s resurrection was a hoax.

To uncover the conspiracy behind the so-called resurrection, Gallio figures all he needs is for one of the apostles to crack. The only problem is that one by one, the apostles keep dying—and in ever more grotesque ways—just before Gallio gets to them.

Racing to save both his case and the witnesses he needs to solve it, Gallio begins to suspect he’s become the unwitting pawn in the plot to kill the apostles . . . but who’s behind it? And to what end? As Gallio realizes even his own superiors are not to be trusted, The Apostle Killer transforms from a dazzling literary experiment into a moving, haunting work of art.

Paperbacks

The Guild Conspiracy: A Chroniker City Story by Brooke Johnson

In the face of impossible odds, can one girl stem the tides of war?

It has been six months since clockwork engineer Petra Wade destroyed an automaton designed for battle, narrowly escaping with her life. But her troubles are far from over.  Her partner on the project, Emmerich Goss, has been sent away to France, and his father, Julian, is still determined that a war machine will be built. Forced to create a new device, Petra subtly sabotages the design in the hopes of delaying the war, but sabotage like this isn’t just risky: it’s treason. And with a soldier, Braith, assigned to watch her every move, it may not be long before Julian finds out what she’s done.

Now she just has to survive long enough to find another way to stop the war before her sabotage is discovered and she’s sentenced to hang for crimes against the empire. But Julian’s plans go far deeper than she ever realized . . . war is on the horizon, and it will take everything Petra has to stop it in this fast-paced, thrilling sequel to The Brass Giant.

To readers, authors and publishers...

Is your story going to be published in time for the next New Releases? Contact us at ahwupdate at gmail dot com.  We are looking for works of alternate history, counterfactual history, steampunk, historical fantasy, time travel or anything that warps history beyond our understanding.

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Matt Mitrovich is the founder and editor of Alternate History Weekly Update, a blogger for Amazing Stories, a volunteer interviewer for SFFWorld and a Sidewise Awards for Alternate History judge. When not exploring alternate timelines he enjoys life with his beautiful wife Alana and prepares for the day when travel between parallel universes becomes a reality. You can follow him on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, DeviantArt and YouTube. Learn how you can support his alternate history projects on Patreon.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Map Monday: Different Ottoman Partition by Panhomo

I always have a soft spot for alternate Middle East maps and this one was good enough to feature on Map Monday:
This is "Different Ottoman Partition" by Panhomo, circa 1920. As the title suggests, this timeline features a different partition of the the defeated Ottoman Empire after WWI. Britain and France divided up the Middle East at the Euphrates River and apparently took more chunks out of Turkey than in our timeline. It reminds me a lot of the proposed borders of the Treaty of Sèvres, a treaty that was much harsher than the Treaty of Versailles and yet is rarely remembered by historians.

According to Panhomo, the base map is from the University of Texas' collection, which is one of the map databases recommended to us by Lynn Davis. With that said, Panhomo did a good job working in the changes caused by his scenario into the base map. I especially liked the inclusion of Kurdistan and I have to believe that in the present day the Kurds finally have their own state (and probably fought a Kurdistan-Iran War as well).

My one criticism is that Panhomo mentioned in his post that Russia doesn't technically exist as is shown in the map. Instead of just saying that I sort of wished he would have just shown us that by doing a few more edits, but it is a minor quibble. Many maps often don't reflect the actual realities on the ground, besides base maps updated constantly by alternate historians. So with that criticism out of the way, I can end by saying that this is a fun Middle East map to look at.

Honorable mentions this week go out to "The Republic of Greater Cascadia" by Nihht and "Causa Deus: Human Migrations to Antarctica" by Gian.

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Matt Mitrovich is the founder and editor of Alternate History Weekly Update, a blogger for Amazing Stories, a volunteer interviewer for SFFWorld and a Sidewise Awards for Alternate History judge. When not exploring alternate timelines he enjoys life with his beautiful wife Alana and prepares for the day when travel between parallel universes becomes a reality. You can follow him on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, DeviantArt and YouTube. Learn how you can support his alternate history projects on Patreon.

Weekly Update #247: Hearts of Iron IV Gets First Major Patch

Editor's Note

So a lot happened in the last two weeks since my last Weekly Update. Please humor me while I go through it all.

First up, WE GOT 1 MILLION PAGE VIEWS. It still feels good to say that and I get a little tingle every time I go to my blog's dashboard and see those seven figures. Everything else pretty much pales in comparison, but waiting for the page count to tick over is a passive project. While waiting I interviewed one of my favorite authors, Jack Campbell (a.k.a. John G. Hemry) for SFFWorld. I even got a DeviantArt profile so I can share some of my map and flag posts/videos with that community.

I have also been busy as usual writing for this blog. If you haven't looked at any of those article already, I can recommend several of them such as Weekly Update #246, where I showcased some of the books that I will be reading in September. Plus you may want to check out my Map Monday articles where I featured "The Day After the World of Tomorrows"​ by Rvbomally and "Causae Deus - Climate of (Deglaciated) Antarctica" by Gian.

We also had a couple of new guest posters to the blog. Michael J. Martinez (MJ-12: Inception) made his debut on the The Update discussing how to write about sexism in racism in historical fantasy and newcomer Theo Taylor gave us two guest posts featuring President Washington's third term and a scenario where Alexander the Great drives farther into India.

I'll end this Editor's Note by congratulating Naomi Novik for winning the first ever Dragon Award for Alternate History. In the meantime, why not show some support to Novik and The Update by purchasing League of Dragons or any other new alternate history release through our Amazon banner?

And now the news...

Hearts of Iron IV Gets First Major Patch
Paradox Development Studios released the first major update for its World War II grand strategy game, Hearts of Iron IV. The “Sunflower Patch” is largely devoted to improving the game’s AI and user interface, as well as the usual changes to the game's balance and historical database, plus a number of bug fixes.

You can read the full list of changes and updates on the official Paradox Community forum here, but here is a brief list of the highlights from the press release:
  • Changes to how peace conferences are handled, based on a design by Steam user Neutrino
  • Hotjoin now available for multiplayer games, so you can connect to a match already in progress
  • Custom difficulty settings let you adjust the relative power of Germany, Italy, France and the Soviet Union
  • More nations can now be released as independent countries
  • Re-sync button added to address connection issues without rehosting the game
  • AI more likely to update templates, build nuclear reactors and cancel unnecessary production
  • AI less likely to risk encirclement, opt for a Communist France or throw everything at North Africa
  • Naval combat has been balanced to prevent light cruiser spam
  • Changes to national territorial cores (Portugal loses, Sinkiang gains)
  • A number of crashes caused by modding have been fixed
  • Submarines better at finding surface ships, worse at finding other subs

Video of the Week

If I were you I would watch Tamara's new review of Back to the Future II:
I especially liked how she gave the figurative middle finger to some of the assholes in her comment section. Next up you should also check out some of my videos, like "What if 9/11 Didn't Happen"?
And "The Alternate History Map That Ended Up In A History Textbook":
I enjoyed this one, just because its fun to rag on major corporations who forget to fact check.

You should also check out...
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Matt Mitrovich is the founder and editor of Alternate History Weekly Update, a blogger for Amazing Stories, a volunteer interviewer for SFFWorld and a Sidewise Awards for Alternate History judge. When not exploring alternate timelines he enjoys life with his beautiful wife Alana and prepares for the day when travel between parallel universes becomes a reality. You can follow him on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, DeviantArt and YouTube. Learn how you can support his alternate history projects on Patreon.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Flag Friday: Spain-ized USA Flag by 3tmp

Alternate designs for famous flags are a staple of Flag Friday and today is no exception. So without further ado, what if the United States flag was made to resemble the flag of Spain:
This is the "Spain-ized USA Flag" by 3tmp. As you can see the flag has three horizontal bands of red (top), white (double width) and blue, with the national coat of arms on the hoist side of the white band, much like the current flag of Spain. Although as of late I've come to find flags that just slap on their coat of arms to be kind of lazily designed, I still enjoy the look of it. It is such an easy template to use that almost any flag could be redesigned to look like the flag of Spain.

That said, I have no idea if there is a timeline where a flag like this would arise. Maybe America has a second Civil War that leads to a Francoist style government arising in the 20th Century. Maybe Spain has nothing to do with this flag and instead a New Netherlands still exists and united with the English-speaking colonies to form a very different union that actually based their flag design off the Dutch flag. Or maybe this is what Crimea looks like if it was colonized by Americans. (Thanks for the commentators in Reddit for the ideas.) Where do you think this flag comes from?

Honorable mention this week goes out to "Communist Columbia" by gruff.jones.

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Matt Mitrovich is the founder and editor of Alternate History Weekly Update, a blogger for Amazing Stories, a volunteer interviewer for SFFWorld and a Sidewise Awards for Alternate History judge. When not exploring alternate timelines he enjoys life with his beautiful wife Alana and prepares for the day when travel between parallel universes becomes a reality. You can follow him on FacebookTwitterTumblr and YouTube. Learn how you can support his alternate history projects on Patreon.