Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Showcase: Napoleon’s World

Guest post by Tbguy1992.

Hello my fellow counterfactual historical thespians! Today I present to you a showcase of one web based source of Alternate History that has been overlooked here on Alternate History Weekly Update, the Alternate History Wikia. And those folks that have been to the Wikia know a bit about this one, Napoleon’s World created by KingSweden.
Napoleon's World in 2010.

Napoleonic Era Point of Divergences have a difficult time seeming plausible at the start, especially when a land power and a naval power go to war, in this case France and Britain. Since the only way for France to defeat England is to either beat them and their allies so much that they have no choice but to give up, or challenge them on the high seas, which is almost suicidal when you consider the state of the French Navy during the brilliant years of Bonaparte’s string of conquests in Europe. And Napoleon’s World is no exception. But this timeline almost seems to delight in the sheer implausibility that is this POD that you can’t help but enjoy it.

The POD takes place in 1813, when Napoleon emerges from his defeat in Russia the previous year and once again destroys everything in his path: starting with Russia, and invading Austria again, Northern Italy, and finishing off the last stragglers of the Peninsular Wars in Spain, and resulting in the death of the Duke of Wellington. By 1814, Napoleon is once again powerful enough to contemplate an invasion of England and defeating the “nation of shopkeepers” once and for all the next year. A string of victories in England climaxing in the second Battle of Hastings that makes Napoleon triumphant over all of Europe at last.

Almost the entire continent except a few small independent states like Spain, Denmark and East Prussia is consolidated in a massive empire that only rivals Rome and Hitler years later for sheer size. The United States goes into Imperialistic mode, and takes over a large chunk of Canada from the moribund United Kingdom. Russia and the Russian people are forced into Siberia, with many then fleeing to Alaska, in a pseudo-realistic view of what the Nazi’s would have done if they had taken over the USSR in the Second World War.

I could go on and on about how ridiculous this idea is, how implausible it is, and how loony it could be, but why bother? There are many other worse ones, and KingSweden himself did admit to me that it was maybe a bit whacky. But where this timeline really shines is the insane amount of detail that goes into the modern pop-culture, sporting events and politics and the major events, such as the WWII analogue “French Civil War” where Himmler is one of the good guys (gasp!). He has been very open about allowing others to contribute, especially with his Alternate Destinies page, where the famous and well known of our world are given new roles that are similar to their real life, or completely opposite of what they actually did (Dick Cheney as a football player? Francis Copula as the head of a Southern California organized crime syndicate? Barack Obama as one of the most popular actors in history?).

I do have a thing against really implausible timelines, and I never was a fan of the Alien Space Bats stories. However, Napoleon’s World works with that, and makes a story that is fun to read and entertaining and really spellbinding to look further into despite the weaker POD. Not a day goes by where a new article related to Napoleon’s World is added, further adding to the story in many colorful ways. I highly encourage you to read it, just make sure to leave your suspension of belief on while doing so.

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Tbguy1992 is a young Canadian student of history with interests in video games and reading. When not busy doing things that Canuck's should be doing, like igloo's, hockey and overusing the first vowel in the alphabet, he is often writing on Alternate History Wikia and other domains of the Internet under the same name, as well as other works that may or may not be published in the near future.

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