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Cam S

Okay--this can be divided into two periods:

The first, or "Secret History" period lasts from 1000 CE until roughly the late 19th century. During this period, a cabal of physicians, started by Abu al-Qasim al-Zahrawi (known in the west as Abulcasis, the physician that proved that Haemophillia is hereditary) begin a breeding program designed to produce a faultless human capable of more closely approaching the Divine's level of thought. Over time, this cabal separated, inducted its products, and allowed its dogma to mutate. In Jewish circles, it was continued so as to produce the Messiah; in Christian Circles, it was to create a man without original sin.

The subjects of these experiments were often abducted from their families and forced to mate, their children weened and stolen away. The products were then indoctrinated by the experimenters. Over time, many failures were produced--inbreeding ruined the results, leading to many so-called "geniuses" to actually be idiots and madmen. Some were simply not progressive enough and were thrown out, leading to their bloodline spreading.

This all changed near the end of the 19th century, the beginning of the "Alternate History" period. In this period, many of the EHCS "geniuses" were unmasked, and many were killed by more mundane individuals--the United States Army Intelligence Corps and later the FBI had divisions dedicated to hunting down and neutralizing or recruiting Geniuses, and other nations had similar groups. The majority were killed off, many of the remainder declared war on their persecutors, and a small number of those in neither group joined their would-be oppressors.

This revelation happened in 1878, during an uprising in French Algeria. A group of Algerian EHCS "Geniuses" were creating weaponry to drive out the french, including advanced firearms and bulletproof clothing. A parallel group of French Geniuses created the first true superhuman--La Pucelle--and set her up as Joan of Arc returned from heaven. In actuality, La Pucelle was a 14-year-old girl that the geniuses modified through primitive surgery and a regimen of chemical treatments, enhancing her speed, strength, durability and perception (other than touch--her other enhancements rendered her not only insensitive to pain, but almost completely lacking in a sense of touch.) Her presence on the field of battle quickly caused escalation and resulted in the governments of the world becoming aware of Eccentric Hyper-Cognition Syndrome and those that were "afflicted" with it.


That's all I have worked out, thus far. Would anyone like to amend the above? Add anything?

8/17/2010 #1

I like what's there so far, Cam, though I think the "outing" of geniuses and superhumans should be less singular and occur over a stretch of time through multiple anomalous incidents.

For instance, odd stories of such people could pop up throughout history from time to time, perhaps later inspiring the hunt for such types you mentioned. If we want to keep the alternate history relative unchanged, the super-brains and superhumans could remain largely unheard of. Otherwise, I guess ignore what I just said and look for an interesting point in time for the revelation of their existence.

I like the French Algeria idea as perhaps one of many pieces to the overall revelation, but why pass up the opportunity to make it a really big thing if we can?

8/18/2010 #2

I would like to add a bit concerning one possible early offshoot program: The Knights Templar.

In the early 12th century, the Templars were already well on their way to becoming powerful and wealthy - read the Wikipedia article if you aren't familiar with the true level of their influence in this period. []

The Templars had initially discovered a small part of al-Zahrawi's breeding program during the First Crusade in 1098 - horrified at what they thought to be an abomination, the soldiers slaughtered the physicians and their experiments both. Many of the documents and records, however, survived the purge, and were later examined by the Templar leadership.

Less superstitious and more farsighted, the Grand Master at the time foresaw the potential benefits of such a program to both the order and the church it served, and ordered some of his trusted lieutenants to seek out and capture any remnants of the cabal that remained in crusader territory. The process of gathering information was slow, but over time the Templar scholars were able to grasp some of the scope of the program, and eventually learned of its origins in Cordoba.

In 1147, at secret Templar urging, the Pope expanded the Second Crusade into the Iberian Peninsula. There, after having retaken Lisbon, and while on their way to sacking Almeria, a dispatch of Templar Knights raided Cordoba. They specifically targeted the remains of the Caliph's library there (though it had been sacked in 1100, there was hope some relevant materials might remain). The raid was an astounding success, resulting in the capture of several physicians and a number of bloodline progeny (with genetics of varying value). This success allowed the Templars to jumpstart their own Christian program.

The Templar's success would not be truly tested until their fall and disbanding in the 14th century. Elderly Grand Master Jacques de Molay, who had led the order (and guided its breeding program) since 1292, was sentenced to burn at the stake on March 18, 1314, despite having retracted his confessions to heresy (those having been given under torture). From within the flames, he is said to have cried out against his executioners, saying: "God knows who is wrong and has sinned. Soon a calamity will occur to those who have condemned us to death!"

Pope Clement died only a month later, under mysterious circumstances. He had ordered the Templar's disbanding and bent to King Philip of France's wishes in doing so. According to one story, the church where Clement's body lay in state was struck by lightning and burned to the ground, badly damaging his remains. (Invention of the lightning rod!)

King Philip suffered a cerebral ictus (a stroke or seizure) before the end of the year, while out hunting. The kingship then passed quickly through his sons, all of whom died young and without producing male heirs. Philip's line was extinguished by 1328. (Poison and whatnot).

Well, what do you think? Yay or nay? (The fun part of this is that the curse and subsequent deaths are, in fact, actual events. Then again, so are the Crusades.)

8/18/2010 . Edited 8/18/2010 #3

I like it. Is there a way we could continue this Christian program up to modern-day? I like the idea of a Stepford Smiler suburbia secretly housing an arsenal of well-guarded "holy warriors."

8/18/2010 #4
Cam S

Fair enough--perhaps the 1878 is simply the most notable of the early incidents, we can toss in Rasputin as one of the geniuses attempting to make Alexei Romanov into a controllable superhuman with incredible charisma and foresight, and using his haemophillia as a control measure of sorts.

The Russo-Japanese war and the American Civil war might be good places for low-grade exposures.

As for the Christian elements, perhaps the Jesuits and Capuchins each studied bits of the breeding program and it became another front in their competition for the favor of the pope--both trying to produce more and more excellent members of their orders (the Jesuit program could've extended the Geniuses into South and Central America, possibly producing Inca- and Maya-derived Geniuses later on.)

Another idea is that the Protestant Reformation could also involve the program. Some protestant groups--including a group of settlers in the New World--could be involved in the program, attempting to produce "Saints," i.e., maximizing the number of people in their societies who are "Saved." This could replace or supplement the Freemason influence on the creation of the United States, and given the dogma involved, could result in the "a Stepford Smiler suburbia secretly housing an arsenal of well-guarded 'holy warriors.'"

8/18/2010 #5

Reading up a bit on al-Zahrawi, it seems his motives for creating a breeding program would be more along the lines of improving the makeup of the human body, thinking that if the body itself is more resilient it will be less susceptible to the ravages of the world; in a way, it'd be the ultimate medical endeavor.

The religious aspect may or may not still be relevent, depending upon his personal philosophies, or perhaps those of his students. Interestingly, the wiki says he "wrote affectionately of his students, whom he referred to as "my children"." This could likely set up the dynastic/familial overtones of the program that would emerge.

8/18/2010 #6

All sounds good to me, Cam. ;)

8/18/2010 #7

On the note of continuing the Templar line unbroken - though the order was disbanded, it wasn't entirely destroyed. The Templars in Portugal were preserved, by dint of their previous aid in the Second Crusade, and reformed as the Knights of Christ. []

Prince Henry the Navigator served as the order's head from 1417–1460, allowing them to spread far and wide with Portuguese support. Over the following centuries there were a number of conflicts between Rome and the Portuguese royalty over control of the Order (and hence the Program). At some point, the Jesuits and others may well have gotten wind of the secret, and stolen/usurped some parts of it, or maybe they learned of it in other ways. Got to love these far-reaching conspiracies and Machiavellian politics.

8/18/2010 #8
Cam S

Alright, so it seems we have the basics for the behind-the-scenes, conspiracy-based period. Due to COD, it seems to me that the majority of this won't be terribly pertinent; it might come up, but as long as the stories are compatible enough to believably take place in the same world, I don't think that we need to worry too much about the specifics of the conspiracy--just leave it as a fractured movement that's been going on for almost a millennium. That being said, I like all that we've been coming up with, and I especially like the clarification on al-Zahrawi's motivations that Shell provided.

So. How is this masquerade broken? I provided one incident, where else is it broken?

8/19/2010 #9
Jave Harron

I think in the late 19th century, we should get a few of these sorts of incidents. For instance, we could have a few alternative inventions actually get built (and improved upon). Like maybe someone builds Babbage engines and connects them via telegraph line, although no one finds much use for it (at first). Even early mechanical computers can act as a form of intelligence amplification in the late 19th century and early 20th.

8/20/2010 #10
Cam S

Any ideas, Jave? How might the first commercial Babbage Engine be implemented? Is there a particular means of exposure you think might be interesting?

8/21/2010 #11
Jave Harron

You could have a "Babbage lite" version that's basically a desk or smaller sized unit able to be connected to nearby machines for parallel processing (perhaps using pneumatic tubes and hoses, and uses pressure as the primary "medium of exchange" between Babbage units. Networks may even be connected to telegraph or phone by means of actuators to convert pressure into electric signals. (The air pressure/pneumatic as a method of info storage/transformation is actually used by some of the wind driven walking sculptures of Theo Jansen, and often times in gas industrial processes.) Pneumatic computers may be a bit easier to mass produce than large amounts of sensitive gears and cogs (although some are included inside). Punched cards may even give way to a smaller format, perhaps a (much simplified) keypad entrance.

I like the idea of steam driven pneumatic computers, though.

A few possible incidents: A Babbage engine network is able to outperform a bunch of human mathematicians and accountants for doing calculations and calculating artillery bearings and naval coordinates. The Great Powers may mostly shrug it off as a novelty, although some Geniuses may take notice of it.

Perhaps one even designs an automated naval vessel, controlled using Babbage engines. For fuel/power, it uses a crude form of solar panel (using Selenium based panels). Still, it needs human crew to maintain it and rearm it. I still like the idea of a rogue Genius built warship while aimlessly patrolling the seas, falling apart as it goes, and eventually sinking or running aground.

Hell, we might also apply it to an early submersible (diving depth, or programming it to dive to a certain depth before attack would be easy to control even with crude pneumatics sensors). Perhaps this could be turned into a "real" Nautilus/Captain Nemo? One idea might be instead of a Genius and his crew building one and using it like Nemo did, eventually getting killed by failing machinery, and the sub continuing to patrol the seas until it finally fails.

8/21/2010 #12

On a note for the Babbage-engine timeline, I have an idea for where some more public backlash might come from.

Given that the machines are incredibly useful for a variety of mathematical tasks, they are put to work on a number of government r&d projects. As their usefulness becomes more public knowledge, people begin to trust in them more and more. Then, in a peaceful version of the Manhattan Project, a faulty nuclear reactor is constructed near a major population center, resulting in catastrophe. The fault lies not in the Babbage-engine's calculations, but either in its having been assembled or programmed incorrectly (thus the PEBKAC). The technology and its makers suffer a massive PR trauma, perhaps even to the point of Butlerian Jihad - maybe leading to the creation of a Luddite Dictatorship, or a far greater focus on bioscience and human/racial self-improvement versus technological augmentation? So, no computers ever, but they have the Cure for Cancer - or maybe we end up with eco-terrorism on a massive scale. The end result is not yet clear to me, but I wanted to get this thought recorded before I forgot.

8/23/2010 #13
Cam S

Alright, so.

We have the introduction of computing technology in the late 1800s, due to babbage engines entering use. This would have effects in mathematics, academia, and economics. This would begin in Britain, and they might avoid exporting it, due to the strategic advantages it affords them, at least at first. Thus, Britain is more of an economic powerhouse.

Some thoughts:

-What areas of mathematics might they effect at first? I'm assuming that early ones would function much like a modern-day basic calculator, so it would simply speed things up.

-About when would it move from purely mechanical to electro-mechanical? (late 1900s? early 1910s?) From then to electric?

-Consider the Teletype. When would these two technologies become merged? I'm assuming that, at first, this would cause for more of a standardization of news services, and an expansion of diplomacy, possibly resulting in more of the secret alliances that made WWI so terrible.


In 1908, a rogue genius (possibly Russian, possibly Chinese, perhaps even Mongolian) invents a nuclear fission device and detonates it in lower Stony Tunguska River region. He might have been unaware of the full destructive potential, and could end up either dead, or similar to Dagenham from The Stars my Destination, living and relatively healthy, but dangerously radioactive and unable to interact with other people for extended periods without killing them.

This would set off the Chinese and Russians, causing their respective armies to look for the man responsible. Perhaps a border war occurs as a dispute over possession of the notes, weakening both before WWI.


Any thoughts on the Boxer Rebellion as a potential unmasking event? Early conflict between Western and Chinese Augments. Lots of governments involved. Much potential for interactions between the various groups and osmosis between them.


Another idea is the potential for aviation. My thoughts turn toward Transatlantic Flight, in particular. Perhaps Walter Wellman managed to cross in his dirigible, leading to an increased adoption of rigid airships, and probably an earlier Hindenburg-like disaster, and thus a greater degree of advancement in fixed-wing aviation. Perhaps, also, Harry Hawker could manage to cross it in the Sopwith Atlantic (probably would have, with a better-cooled engine.) This would probably lead to increased adoption of long-range biplanes for use in WWI (possibly dedicated bombers, instead of simply grenades thrown from fighter planes,) which would have increased the destruction of that war. (Possible a "First London Blitz" by the Germans? Perhaps Earlier introduction of aircraft carriers?)


Yet another: by attaching babbage engines to radios, it would be possible to have the equivalent of wireless internet much earlier, thus reducing communications trouble from downed telegraph lines.

8/23/2010 #14

Looking at real world history, it took approximately a decade to move from vacuum tubes to transistors, another decade to produce integrated circuits, and yet one more to arrive at the microprocessor. Applying that timeline of rapid advancement to the Babbage engine, (and assuming its effects on all facets of human existence are roughly equivalent, if slightly slower), I think we could be seeing microprocessors by as early as 1940, with them really coming into their own in the 50s. Of course, they might not be widely available, since we're seeing them spring up during the height of the industrial revolution, and the influence of super geniuses will have to overcome not only the lack of certain manufacturing infrastructures in place in the real world, but also the necessary advances in metallurgy, engineering, physics, mathematics, and related fields.

Based on the same development timeline, I would expect to see large scale networking (first via telegraph/telephone lines, and later radio broadcast) develop from the 1910s through the 20s.

I think we'd also benefit from increased realism by paralleling other uses with actual computer history, which could lead to the simultaneous existence of a variety of technologies from both the early 1900s and the 21st century.

Another interesting note (which I think someone else has mentioned), is that mechanical computers would hold certain advantages over electronics by virtue of their resistance to EMP blasts (such as those generated by atomic weapons). The same holds true, to a lesser extent, for vacuum tube technologies.

8/23/2010 #15
Cam S

(Great Depression) + (Dot Com bubble) = Damn.

So, Germans would have access to integrated circuits and their rocket technology...Nazi Moon Landing, say about 19378-38? Planting the swastika flag there?


Okay, so we have the internet arriving during the gangland period. Hmm...Al Capone could have a blog. Call it "LEGITIMATE BUSINESSMAN" or something like that.

Another note: without the extensive experience with television and radio, it seems to me that there would be less "free to air" content on the internet. Perhaps there are more and more subscription-based services? Perhaps integration with television?


Anyone want to include brain-computer interfaces in late 60s/early 70s? Yea or Nay?

8/23/2010 #16

Allow me to be the first to say yea. I needs me some brain-chips...

Huh. Actually, those sound kind of tasty.

8/24/2010 #17

Butlerian Jihad/Luddite dictatorship: I don't know that it needs to go quite that far, but it sounds like a good reason for the alt. timeline to turn more to bioscience and eugenics. Perhaps the superhumans the Geniuses (at least those post-nuke accident onward) create are (at least in part) a result of them trying to make their own mentats and other, similar machine-substitutes in the wake of newfound technophobia? So, basically biopunk and organic/non-electrical technology becomes the standard, or preferred, method.

Boxer Rebellion: What if it represents the bloody reunion and conflict between two factions of the splintered Genius-made breeding program? To elaborate;

The Boxers were made up of former peasants forced into the cities after a drought and series of floods in 1897-98. Perhaps some Chinese Geniuses offer them aid in exchange for partaking in their experiments and undergoing Genius-devised training. Already agitated by natural disasters, voracious foreign influence and political upheaval that have been plaguing their country, the scales are tipped when some of the Boxers uncover similarities between their new work and that of some Genius-Chrisitian missionaries, who are doing experiments relating to their own program in China. Seeing this as a threat both to their nation and their new livelihoods, they build a resistance and seek violent suppression of their rivals.

Full knowledge of the Genius and superhuman angles of the Boxer Rebellion may be largely unknown, though events may culminate in the outing of this secret (possibly during the Taiyuan Massacre or the siege of the Legation Quarter). Some people who might know beforehand include the Empress Dowager Cixi and Hui General Dong Fuxiang, who may somehow be a part of the Chinese Genius program, along with his "Kansu braves" (more supers?), who later team up with the Boxers. This could also turn into one of the revelatory incidents discussed earlier.

Considering the collapsing Qing dynasty is Manchu, I see perfect potential for some kind of Fu Manchu expy here, perhaps in the form of some Genius or super who manages to establish a more impressive resistance against the West.

KKK Superhero Costume Origins: I definitely think this idea should be worked on some more. What I'm wondering is whether or not the appropriation of Klanlike attire on the part of superhumans comes from a place of turning the tactics of bad men against them, or (considering the desire to play things cynically) if the superhumans who start doing this might themselves be Klansmen. It'd be interesting to see a parallel of the superhero mythos arise from beliefs in the supremacy of a "master race." Jave also expressed how a surge of masked men could result from the Great Depression (caused at least in part by the bursting of the earlier Dot Com bubble Cam mentioned?); perhaps as well as Klansmen, the superhero archetype comes from the desperate and unemployed turned thieves, robbers and hired thugs, as well as plain ol' oddballs deciding to fight crime out a sense of disproportionate duty and thrill-seeking.

Montauk: This is something I've recently latched on to. I like the idea of connecting the Spanish-American War quarantine of Teddy Roosevelt and his Rough Riders, the Montauk Project and the Montauk Monster all together into something that somehow works in-universe. Some other things to throw in there might be the supposedly buried treasure of Captain Kidd, events surrounding the Amistad, and Barnum's "last of the Montauks," Stephen Talkhouse.

Early-to-mid-20th century alt. Internet sounds pretty awesome, as does late 60s/early 70s BCI. We should also work more on Tesla and possibly a more literal War of Currents.

8/24/2010 #18

A quick addition to the last thing I just said; perhaps the (literal) War of Currents can somehow tie into the anti-tech backlash post-nuke meltdown?

8/24/2010 #19
Cam S

Klansmen: Perhaps both. Though given a terrible enough villain (say...a scientist trying to forcibly create an ape-human hybrid, using human women) they could be played as Type-V Antihero instead of villain protagonists. Perhaps an incident like that could be used to disseminate costumed vigilantism.

Meltdown: Okay, Tunguska test in 1908. After taking apart the designs, it seems that they might be able to have reactors by the late 1920s. Perhaps a meltdown shortly after the plant goes online could be partially responsible for the great depression?

War of the Currents: Literal? Very yes. What are you thinking?

8/24/2010 #20

I really don't have too much for it; I just like the idea that the competition between proponents of AC and DC (or suitable parallels depending on technological circumstances in the alt. timeline—maybe some Tesla- and Edison-run counterparts to Microsoft and Apple?) escalatates into legitimate hostility—possibly international—which may then mutate into a pro-electricity movement or society in the aftermath of the Genius-botched Tunguska nuclear meltdown.

That's all I can offer, as I'm not terribly tech-savvy (much less savvy about the history of tech), so I'll leave the specifics to those more knowledgeable. Supposing it fits the alt. history, you may be able to feature some steam- and dieselpunk and other, fittingly mad/superscientific inventions, weapons and war machines, as well as that general aesthetic for those involved in the War of Currents and may later join the pro-tech/electricity movement.

8/24/2010 #21

Okay so it looks like what we have taking shape is a sort of techno-industrial revolution taking place around the world at the turn of the century, with science surging far beyond anything mankind has previously known.

Some major events I'm seeing take shape:

The Boxer Rebellion around 1900 outs at least one breeding program onto the world stage, probably rallying believers to both sides of the cause (pro-eugenics/anti-eugenics).

I think there was also some mention, whether in this thread or another, of an Algerian uprising against France...but I don't know much about that.

A nuclear detonation at Tunguska in 1908 sets off tensions between the Russians and the Chinese (who, of course, are probably not in good shape at this point). This detonation will be heard the world 'round, and may well herald the beginnings of a nuclear race as countries try to duplicate the rogue genius' work.

By this time in 1908, Analytical Engines have become the symbol of scientific achievement in Britain, and their use is spreading rapidly throughout the major powers. Britain, meanwhile, is on the cutting edge with vacuum tubes being newly developed around 1909.

Here's where I was going with my nuclear reactor thingamajig:

In 1918, World War 1, thanks to automatic weapons, chemical weapons, tanks, air reconnaissance, and the invention of proximity fused explosives, computer-aided logistics/communications/code-breaking, and probably a host of other developments, has now killed nearly 20 million people and continues unabated, until armistice is signed in either 1920 or 1921.

Britain, which had the luck to develop Babbage engines first, has been at an advantage in the computation race for some time, but is rapidly losing ground to the US and other countries (with the US beating them to the transistor, I think). In a post-war bid to reassert their dominance, they use their VT Colossus computers to work out the details (inaccurately, of course) of a nuclear reactor meant to power the whole of London. It goes boom in, say, 1925, poisoning most of London and the surrounding countryside, and leads (in conjunction with anti-tech sentiments from the horrors of war) to a huge public backlash against the PTB of the scientific community in Britain, with reverberations and sympathy movements spreading around the world.

Now devastated by the famine of the last century, the Great War, and seeing the meltdown as a punishment for its scientific hubris, Britain turns its efforts towards rebuilding. This leads to a heavy focus on environmental/medical technology, and a much-reduced interest in the techno-industrial complex that the everyman blames for everything that's wrong in the world. This leads to a kind of weak Butlerianism in Britain, and a generally Luddite attitude towards certain kinds of technology.

Other Thoughts:

This incident would certainly contribute greatly to the Great Depression, and could be connected to a greatly lengthened derivative of the Current Wars (perhaps more commonly known, after the AC/DC thing ends, as the War of the Wizards?), with Edison's General Electric battling Westinghouse and Tesla around the globe for economic and technological dominance. Perhaps one of them built the reactor, and one sabotaged it?

Montauk: I don't know a whole lot about this - where are you going with it?

Costumes and Klansmen: I agree with you Cam, I think that the development would probably be near simultaneous. While it might begin as a villainous thing to do, it seems likely that anti-hero-types would be more than willing to turn that fear tactic against them.

8/24/2010 . Edited 8/24/2010 #22
Cam S

The Algerian Uprising doesn't occur in OT, but wasn't completely impossible. It is, however, not an impossibility, Algiers having been fairly developed before being colonized by France.

It could have the following ramifications:

1) introduces Guerilla and anti-Guerilla tactics to the French before WWI.

2) illustrate the dangers of (admittedly primitive) machine guns.

3) Allow for the introduction of a "nationalist super" in the late 19th century, as well as outing one of several Genius groups in Europe, as well as one in Northern Africa.


I like Jon's timeline for the nuclear reactor and resulting failure. Let's put armistice at 1920 (I like round numbers, personally.)

So, with London irradiated, this has some ramifications; firstly, the government has to move elsewhere. I suggest first a move to Oxford, then, around 1935-36, in the middle of the Great Depression, it could move to Birmingham, in an effort to create a new capital. As a result of these changes, there's less damage to the British Government during the Blitz. Perhaps some of the members of the Inklings could join the government during its tenure at Oxford. A return to pastoralism and shunning industrialism would fit with their ideology, and they would make great propagandists.

Another idea is that London is turned into "The Hot Zone" or the "Gear Ghetto" or something like that. Though still dangerously irradiated, it isn't tightly regulated, and many people associated with engineering, mechanical pursuits and electronics who couldn't flee to The U.S., France, Hong Kong, or elsewhere might take up residence there instead of being destroyed by backlash.


However, I see England becoming Authoritarian (cutting the civilians out of politics) more readily than it becoming totalitarian (completely denying individual rights.) Perhaps a sort of Republican Feudalism could evolve?


The War of the Wizards/The War of the Currents. Tesla V. Edison.


-Westinghouse sides with Edison instead of Tesla, due to the Genius Edison having solved many of the problems that bothered Westinghouse about DC in OT (Westinghouse was primarily interested in telephone switching; we use DC for that, nowadays.)

-Anne Morgan (Daughter of J.P. Morgan) learned of Tesla's reaction to perfectly spherical objects before the two met, and chooses different earrings [I remember hearing that the two interacted, and might have formed a relationship, had it not been for the fact that they had met while she was wearing pearl earrings.] The two form a relationship, and Morgan backs Tesla even more than in OT, with Anne Morgan exerting a bit of a stabilizing influence on him. Morgan handles the business side of Tesla's industry, allowing Tesla to focus more on invention.

As a result, both have a great deal of financial support. Perhaps Edison could be a "genius aristocrat" (whose production was handled by a group) while Tesla is a "wild genius" of sorts.

Perhaps Edison was able to convince several populous cities (London, New York, Paris, etc.) to adopt DC, though Tesla still gets Niagra Falls. As a result of Edison acquiring the rights to produce Babbage engines and derivative devices in the United States, resulting in the first electro-mechanical computers. Tesla must come up with a way to compete, and eventually creates the Vacuum Tube. Edison's computers are more efficient, as a result, while Tesla's are more powerful.

Tesla's system for free electricity doesn't pan out, but does function as a proof-of-concept for wireless power transfer. Under Anne's influence, Morgan and Tesla hash out a system for billing it (subscription-based) but for a long time it is more of a novelty than anything else.

Even after the War of the Currents is settled in Tesla's favor, Edison continues to compete in computation, but is on the run. Edison is almost out of the game until 1913, when Morgan dies, leaving Tesla without business backing. Westinghouse's exit from business in 1911 resulted in Edison taking over the Westinghouse Electric Corporation (Renaming it Edison Electric, or "The Double E,") while this put Nikola Tesla and his wife in charge of the Tesla-Morgan Company (Becoming United Electric, more commonly called "The T-M.")

EE was able to make a comeback, even though they'd already adopted AC, when both companies buy the rights for the theoretical basis of Transistors from Julius Edgar Lilienfeld, their inventor. In addition to this, EE and Ford also began producing electric cars, though the lack of readily available lithium prevented them from producing a large number.


8/24/2010 . Edited 8/24/2010 #23

I think that pretty much all sounds awesome Cam. Also, those dashes in your post break things up quite nicely.


So do you think we're looking at a semi-accidental Algerian Genocide, as France puts some of the Brave New World's weapons into play for the first time? Perhaps the Algerian guerrillas are largely successful at first, having obtained weapons from a third party, and put them into play at the behest of some nationalist supers; the French then retaliate with chemical weapons and carpet bombing, leading to untold devastation of civilian centers and the countryside. Or maybe it goes the other way - just typing of the top of my head.


I support the gov. move, the Inkling propagandists working to support the new British Authority's "return to the natural world" message, and the unenforced quarantine of the London Hot Zone. I would also submit that this new government would be uniquely positioned to put a great deal of public money into eugenics programs to improve physical abilities, resistances to chemicals and radiations, and, of course, intelligence. Perhaps a European program is drawn into the open with promises of funding and support.



Like it, love it, want more of it.

I'm thinking that both companies probably grew fat and wealthy selling weapons during the war, although the Double E likely comes out slightly ahead, thanks to Edison's reputation, business acumen, and mastery of the use of motion pictures for marketing purposes.

8/24/2010 #24

Well, I'm glad you've fleshed out the War of Currents idea, Cam, though I'd point out that it doesn't seem to have any actual warfare. Also, do either Tesla, Edison or both play any roles in this London Hot Zone or any similar tech-friendly areas?

It should also be mentioned that Tesla didn't have a high regard for women in general, so Ms. Morgan is going to have to be preternaturally talented at getting what she wants or luck out and find Tesla when he's in a pinch. Still a fine possibility, though.

I do like the idea of the Inklings being on the govt. bill and serving as propaganda machines. That's pretty clever.

8/24/2010 #25
Cam S

Well, I went off to eat some dinner.

An idea I was going to put in but forgot to:

Edison, possibly through Ford, during the years when Tesla was dominant, contacts the Purple Gang in Detroit, and forms an under-the-table alliance to sabotage Tesla's efforts in the North-central United States. This creates an alliance of convenience between T-M and Al Capone, later on.

Edison builds the nuclear plant in England, and, without consulting Tesla, Capone shoots the dog. And by "Shoot" I mean "blows up" and by "dog" I mean "London." Tesla is suspected of sabotage, and Edison is driven out. The two biggest purveyors of electronics are driven from England.

This breaks Tesla and Capone apart, leaving Tesla defenseless. Tesla goes into weapons design, and constructs The "Maginot Device" for France (replacing the Maginot line with a powerful weapon that fires magnetically-accelerated droplets of mercury, similar to the device he had envisioned constructing for England in OT.


Well, I read that an encounter between them actually happened. My idea was for more of a marriage of convenience--I noted that on the wikipedia page it never mentioned Anne Morgan marrying. I wasn't planning on mentioning Children, or anything.

8/24/2010 #26

Though I like the idea of a rivalry, the problem is both Tesla and Edison were pretty peaceloving in the OT. We can solve this problem in various ways and turn one or both of them into more aggressive versions of their real selves, or perhaps they can become overwhelmed by the influences of others, who abuse their innovations and are the actual cause behind any violent confrontations.

On their personalities in regard to war;

"Nonviolence was key to Edison's moral views, and when asked to serve as a naval consultant for World War I, he specified he would work only on defensive weapons and later noted, "I am proud of the fact that I never invented weapons to kill." Edison's philosophy of nonviolence extended to animals as well, about which he stated: "Nonviolence leads to the highest ethics, which is the goal of all evolution. Until we stop harming all other living beings, we are still savages." However, he is also notorious for having electrocuted a number of dogs in 1888, both by direct and alternating current, in an attempt to argue that the former (which he had a vested business interest in promoting) was safer than the latter (favored by his rival George Westinghouse). Edison's success in promoting DC current as less lethal also led to AC current being used in the electric chair adopted by New York in 1889 as a supposedly humane execution method; because Westinghouse was angered by the decision, he funded Eighth Amendment-based appeals for inmates set to die in the electric chair, ultimately resulting in Edison providing the generators which powered early electrocutions and testifying successfully on behalf of the state that electrocution was a painless method of execution."


"Tesla believed that war could not be avoided until the cause for its recurrence was removed, but was opposed to wars in general. He sought to reduce distance, such as in communication for better understanding, transportation, and transmission of energy, as a means to ensure friendly international relations."

So it seems possible either one may be pushed to an extreme that would lead to warfare. Tesla might fancy himself as a potential benevolent dictator who could use directed-energy weapons and an iron grip on global communications as a means to enforce peace, whereas a mix of external coercion and competitive desperation may force Edison to ignore his already misguided ethics.

As well, after some rereading, it seems I misspoke about Tesla's position on women. According to his wiki, it appears he got some attention from the fairer sex, though he never became romantic with any of them or married. A marriage of convenience is probably very fitting, then. As well, Tesla seemed to believe "that humanity's future would be run by "Queen Bees". He believed that women would become the dominant sex in the future." So if Anne Morgan is appropriately impressive in that regard, he may have even more reason to agree to a (strictly platonic) alliance.

8/24/2010 #27
Cam S

Hmm...well, let's see.

I'm not sure that turning either one into a full-on emperor scientist is quite fitting. I think that a competition between the two that erupts into unintentional violence much to their mutual horror would be an interesting path. Which is why I think a connection to gangsters later in life would be a good idea.

Also, if Edison were on the ropes financially, he might change his opinion on weaponry. Perhaps he could begin by making components for weaponry--adding his production to that of the Triple Alliance for making computational devices. He could begin taking on bigger and bigger contracts, until he was producing weapons, and slightly unsure of how he had reached that point. Perhaps, as a result, he could fund the development of several "kind" methods of killing, such as a weaponized anesthetic?


Jon, you did a brief sketch a while back about attitudes in England post-nuclear. Is there anything you would add to that other than a weakly Butlerian attitude? Perhaps Xenophobia? Would they continue taking reparations from the Germans?

8/24/2010 #28


I concur that Anne and Nikola would be unlikely to reproduce, although it's not, perhaps, completely impossible.

I also like the gangster connection - organized crime played a huge part in American politics in the early 20th century, and both the money and resources provided by such organizations would be tempting to these bitter rivals. Plus, they'd have plenty of willing test subjects for enhancement, and if Capone and others manage to buy themselves a few scientists, they could easily corrupt Tesla's or Edison's research to produce weapons without either Wizard knowing until it was too late.

To revise some things I said earlier, it seems clear that T&M would reap enormous profits during the war thanks to their patent on the Vacuum Tube; Edison Electric would be on the ropes in many ways, and Edison's moral decline (having begun with animal torture and electric chairs) would continue during the war as he sought ways to undercut his opponents.

The nuclear plant is, perhaps, his last ditch effort to redeem himself. Thus, Capone's "shooting" of the "dog" would provide a strong motivation for things to escalate rapidly as the twenties end. Tesla could easily be blamed for sabotage, as the Colossus computers might have been his designs, or at least built with his VTs. Edison dies in OT in 1931, but perhaps we could think of some way to temporarily hold off his diabetes? Or just pretend he never had it…


The British Empire: Fallout from the London Incident

War Debts

Britain owed the US nearly $5 billion by the end of WWI ($60 billion by today's standards). Much of the repayment of these loans was financed by reparations money from Germany (a debt of 132 billion goldmarks - 400 billion modern dollars - owed to the Allies; far more money than the country's assets were worth), which in turn was accepting large American loans to keep its sagging economy afloat – thus, there was a circle which basically meant everyone owed the Americans more money than actually existed.


The Meltdown would cause immense damage to Britain's already flagging economy, bring national morale to a new low, and leave people looking for someone to blame. The techno-industrial community and the old government (which probably sunk nearly $4 billion of reparations money into the reactor before it went up) take the majority of the initial outrage, but clever politicians would quickly work to turn the public rage outward.


Thus, I see Americans, who took their time entering the war, hold a great deal of debt over the British, and both built and sabotaged the plant, as getting a seriously bad rap by 1928. This blame game will contribute to a deep rift between the former allies. The rift will deepen further when the Brits stop paying their loans back in 1931, leaving the US short $4.4 billion, and deepening the Great Depression then sweeping that nation.

International Ramifications

Britain's weakened financial and political position leads to many of the major Commonwealth nations seizing first equal bargaining rights under the Crown in 1926, and later independence throughout the thirties and forties.

While these governments are asserting their authority, however, there will also be strong anti-tech/anti-American sympathy movements taking root throughout the British Empire, possibly setting up a three-sided WW2 – or at least making things more interesting.

8/25/2010 #29
Cam S

So we have mobsters involved in the War of the Currents (War of the Wizards is probably a better term for it, all things considered,) cooler Anglo-American relations, Britain's colonial holdings breaking away...

Let's see, what else do we need in the timeline between 1880-1930?

What's going on with this Montauk thing?

Any significant events in South America or Africa?


Should Russian Communism evolve the same way? I think I mentioned Rasputin as a genius, earlier. Perhaps Russian Communism could be more a reaction against the Intelligentsia (which might have a higher percentage of Geniuses than the aristocracy) than against the Aristocracy. They probably don't have a problem with using Genius-derived technology, but see the eugenics program as a threat to the common man. Ergo, communism could develop more of an anti-eugenics slant than in OT, and even shun advances in biotechnology, due to its association with the Intelligentsia, becoming a bit more technocratic.


I see Japan as institutionalizing the Geniuses as part of their government. Perhaps with the revelations of the Boxer Rebellion, they tracked down their own Geniuses and either institutionalize them much like the Samurai (not sure what they would be referred to as) or perhaps becoming scientific outcasts of a sort, in which case they would become Burakumin.

The first seems more likely, though either is a possibility, depending on how they're revealed (perhaps Unit 731 could be an all-genius Unit. I leave that to Jave, he knows more about that than I do.)

[[Edit: I don't know what you're talking about. It's always said 1930. I will fight anyone who says differently.]]

8/25/2010 . Edited 8/26/2010 #30
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