Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Birthdays Coming Up!

August 1st, 2007

Digg this

The Announcement

ALT-CONTEST! It's been too long since we had a contest, and with my birthday coming up on August 14th, I wanted to challenge you to produce alternate birthdays for me, or, if you're more future-oriented, Steve (whose birthday is November 22nd). Send your stories of our many alternate lives to the usual place, and we'll post them come August 14th for me, and November 22nd for Steve. Get hopping into those parallel dimensions! I'll start you off with this alternate ending to match my alternate beginnings...

In 1975, the cremated remains of Jimmy Hoffa were secretly shipped out of the Grand Lawn Cemetery, a short drive from the Machus Red Fox restaurant in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan.
Jimmy Hoffa
Jimmy Hoffa
The ex-Teamsters President was no stranger to the underworld of American society. Yet he had recently entered a whole new league of danger. In 1971, to secure his prison release, Hoffa had made a payment of half a million dollars to President Richard Nixon and his attorney general, John Mitchell.
Trouble was he had been banned from union activities. As part of his comback plan, he had recently threatened to reveal the mob's entanglement with Teamsters pension funds -- even though he himself turned the Central States Pension Fund into the Mafia's private piggy bank. Organized crime wanted to shut him up. So did the White House.

~ entry by Steve Payne from Counter History in Context - You're the Judge!

Hotel hobbies padding dawns hollow corridors
Bell boys checking out the hookers in the bar
Slug-like fingers trace the star-spangled clouds of cocaine on the mirror
The short straw took its bow
MarillionThe tell tale tocking of the last cigarette
Marking time in the packet as the whisky sweat
Lies like discarded armour on an unmade bed
And a familiar craving is crawling in his head

~ Lyrics to “Hotel Hobbies” - Click to Play Sample
Clutching at Straws
In 1998, keyboard player Mark Kelly described the building tension amongst the members of the Prog band Marillion at the Westside Studios in London -

The whole period surrounding Clutching at Straws is a bit vague for all five of us. I know Fish blames it on the ‘live fast, die young' lifestyle most of us were embracing at the time. I think it was also because the band was so busy coping with the success of Misplaced Childhood while trying to get our heads around writing a new album. There was also added pressure from the A&R department at EMI to come up with another song like Kayleigh. We knew that would never happen. Fish's tragic death and the arrival of Steve Hogarth brought a new sense of peace to the band, albeit without the commercial success of the mid-80s. The lyrics are available at Sweb
~ quotation by Co-Historian Steve Payne from Counter-history – You're the Judge!

In 1996, Maureen F. McHugh won Hugo for best short story and Locus Poll for best short story for The Davis Train. McHugh was also a nominee for a nebula for best short story and received an honourable mention in the Sidewise Award for best short-form alternate history.

In McHugh's bleak alternate America of 1865 the better angels of our nature described by Lincoln in his inaugural address did not win through. President Jefferson Davis survived Booth's assassination attempt but was so gravely wounded that Vice President Alexander Stephens ended up running the country. Too infirm to travel, the President's dark claret engine was re-serviced as a prison train in which Northerners were shipped out west to starve among the Indians. The Friends started a new underground rail road, but only a select few abolitionists were lucky enough to be rescued.

~ variant from Steve Payne: extensive use of original content has been made to celebrate the author's genius.

In 1945, upon his return to the United States demobbed American GI Kurt Vonnegut published a set of photographs that would fundamentally change attitudes towards the bombing of Dresden.

Kurt Vonnegut's experience as a soldier and prisoner of war had a profound influence on the publication. As an advance scout with the 106th Infantry Division during the Battle of the Bulge, Vonnegut was cut off from his battalion and wandered alone behind enemy lines for several days until captured by Wehrmacht troops on December 14, 1944. Imprisoned in Dresden, Vonnegut witnessed the February 13–February 14, 1945 bombing of Dresden, which destroyed most of the city. Vonnegut was one of just seven American prisoners of war in Dresden to survive, in their cell in an underground meat locker of a plant known as Schlachthof Fünf (Slaughterhouse Five).

"Utter destruction", he recalled, "carnage unfathomable." The Germans put him to work gathering bodies for mass burial. "But there were too many corpses to bury. So instead the Nazis sent in troops with flamethrowers. All these civilians' remains were burned to ashes."

Unfathomable was a word chosen with great care - not all the bodies were human. The photographs showed pictures of Tralfamadorians, an alien race that Vonnegut described as follows:

...they were two feet high, and green, and shaped like plumber's friends. Their suction cups were on the ground, and their shafts, which were extremely flexible, usually pointed to the sky. At the top of each shaft was a little hand with a green eye in its palm. .

Public opinion in America shifted considerably, understanding that the bombing of Dresden was necessary to destroy these creatures. Yet beneath that relief emerged a fresh fear which took shape into a larger question. What did the event say about back channels between the US and Nazi Governments? And the German Rocket Development Team, led by Werner Von Braun - what was the origin of their ballistic technology? And so it goes...

~ variant from Steve Payne: extensive use of original content has been made to celebrate the author's genius.

In 2009, the TV networks presented episode twenty-one of So What If?. Historian Barbara Tuchman discusses the visit of Mao Tse-tung and Chou En-la in 1945 to Washington. What might have happened if Ambassador Hurley had succeeded in preventing the Chinese statesmen from meeting with FDR?

~ entry by Steve Payne from Counter History in Context - You're the Judge!

In 1935, following the recent death of Private Shaw of the Tank Corps in a motorcyle accident at Clouds Hill, fellow Officer John Bruce released the most extraordinary revelation to the world's media.
Clouds Hill Cottage Clouds Hill cottage is situated in a woodland location on a minor road adjacent to Bovington Camp, a tank training ground.

Bruce revealed that Colonel Thomes Edward Lawrence (“Lawrence of Arabia”) had been serving in the Tank Corps as “Private Shaw” and living in obscurity at Clouds Hill Cottage.
Lawrence's Woodland Retreat
That was only the very beginning of the story. Really.

~ entry by Co-Historian Steve Payne from Counter-history – You're the Judge!

Elimina Castle
In 1482, at Elmina on the Gulf of Guinea a brutal military factory opened for business. St. George El Mina Castle marked the beginning of the middle passage for African slaves en route to the New World. Out of Burkina Faso was brought the child Kwame, caste into this unspeakable hell.

~ entry by Steve Payne from Counter History in Context - You're the Judge!

In 1938, and through the smooth operation of Dane law, Winston Spencer Churchill accepted the office of Minister President of the Scandinavian Union. The appointment of Churchill was of historic significance for three reasons, one somewhat embarrassing. Churchill was the first Celt to be so named. And he was the first Celt .. Winston Churchill
Winston Churchi..
.. since King Harold Godwinson II to rule the British Isles exactly one millennia before. Finally he could drink a whole longboat of Vikings under the table. “It is my policy never to leave the pub before closing time” was one of the bulldog's more famous expressions, presumably said around closing time.

~ entry by Steve Payne from Counter History in Context - You're the Judge!

In 1987, Harry Turtledove wrote “Europeans found the New World a very different land from the one they left. People came down to the seashore to greet their ships. Before the arrival of European settlers, there were people in North and South America...” Turtledove continues to specialize in carefully researched alternate ..
.. histories in “The Same Flesh”. This time he applies that expertise to a more striking premise. What if homo sapiens had lived in America as had developed in the European civilization we know? With an eye for historical turning points, the indigenous people of the novel are contrasted with the homo erectus of our world, a living missing link of limited intelligence and half-human, half-simian appearance. Traditional ideas of humanity's special, God-given place in the world are challenged. Turtledove develops his thesis through vignettes from 1610 to 1988. The later, longer chapters become increasingly involving and intricate as the issues grow more complex, from slavery to guinea pigs for scientific research. One of the best entries in the "Isaac Asimov Presents" series.

~ entry by Steve Payne from Counter History in Context - You're the Judge!

In 2003, on this day the compendium “A Collection of Political Counterfactuals” was published. Simon Burns' masterful entry "What if Lee Harvey Oswald had missed?" was a keynote contribution, considering the scenario where John Kennedy had served as U.S. president until 1968. The essence of Burns' masterpiece .. Snake Eyes
Snake Eyes
.. is the competition of mysterious forces at Dallas. Two green pinpricks are amongst the ocean of eyes who watch the Kennedy's plane land at Love Field. The presidential motorcade turns the corner at Dealey Plaza 12.29pm. Amongst the many placards of warm welcome, one says Snake Eyes watching you. Kennedy instinctively ducks, and the assassins bullets thud harmlessly into the upholstery of the 1961 Lincoln Continental.

~ entry by Steve Payne from Counter History in Context - You're the Judge!

Cool stuff - Let us know where you are on Frappr! and We've been Dugg

We have links again! Yay, us. Check them out on the side of the page, and if you have some suggestions, send them to us!

Visit the Co-Historian's store -

No comments:

TIAH Editor says we'd like to move you off the blog, if you're browsing the archives - and most people are - more than half of them are already on the new site. We need to be sure the new web site accomodates your archive browsing needs because we don't want to lose any readers. Please supply any feedback or comments by email to the Editor and please note the blogger site is shutting on December 1st.