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Fallen London and Alternate History Speculation Messages in this topic - RSS

Mitch Young
Mitch Young
Posts: 11

8 days ago
Hello, delicious friends!

One thing that's always intrigued me about Fallen London is how its world history diverges from our own. We know the fall of the first three cities doesn't affect known history much as far as we can tell (particularly since the identity of said cities is still debated). Thanks to The Silver Tree, we know history begins to noticeably diverge with the fall of the fourth (Karakorum), which predates its replacement from the Mongol empire's capital, in 1260, by approximately six years. It's possible that a certain Flemish monk managed to escape and relate the city's final hours to the outside world.

The biggest historical shakeup by far must be London's fall. In less than 24 hours, around February 14th, 1862, the British empire, the largest empire in the world, was figuratively beheaded. How do you all think the world changed? Presumably the Neath was discovered shortly before the fall, given that it was Dutch explorers who discovered and named the Unterzee first. What do you think became of the British empire? Was it broken apart by hungry rivals, did its colonial subjects manage to attain independence, or did the British empire left behind on the surface manage to regroup and recuperate in a major city like Dublin or Glasgow? What do you think happened to Canada, Australia, Singapore, Hong Kong, or India? What about the then-battered-and-broken China? The rapidly modernizing Japan?

We haven't even speculated about technology! What of Tower bridge? Was it ever built? What of the transatlantic telegraph cables that were laid by British companies in 1866 of our world? Did somebody else step up and finish the telegraph network, or was it forever incomplete? There are so many different ways the fall could have altered world history in so many domains of life, that I decided to make a thread where people could speculate on and discuss the divergences from our world.

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Siankan
Siankan
Posts: 735

7 days ago
Mitch Young wrote:
(particularly since the identity of said cities is still debated)

It's not. Well, the Third City is, to a minor extent, but the others are very well known.

Thanks to The Silver Tree, we know history begins to noticeably diverge with the fall of the fourth (Karakorum), which predates its replacement from the Mongol empire's capital, in 1260, by approximately six years.

I don't have the relevant conversation on hand (the are whole threads of this stuff elsewhere on the forum), but I believe the consensus is that Karakorum fell in 1388, and that Uskhal Khan was the one who sold it. Silver Tree is about Karakorum, but not its sale.

s it broken apart by hungry rivals, did its colonial subjects manage to attain independence, or did the British empire left behind on the surface manage to regroup and recuperate in a major city like Dublin or Glasgow?

We know little of Surface Britain, but I think it's safe to say that the current center of government is neither Dublin nor Glasgow. The new center of government would almost certainly be English (and if it were Scottish, it would be Edinburgh). York and Winchester have good historical claims, though I can see claims of different sorts advanced by Manchester, Lancaster, Bristol, and Reading. Expect a catfight once the provisional government shakes out.

What do you think happened to Canada, Australia, Singapore, Hong Kong, or India?

Even on our timeline, Canada's confederation occurred in 1867. No doubt the loss of London accelerated the process a bit, but wouldn't have made a big difference. Australia (which became independent in 1901) and New Zealand (1907) probably saw a greater acceleration. India's the real question, but we simply don't have information by which to speculate. The Empire depends on the Royal Navy, and the Navy would not (for the most part) have been caught in London's fall. Thus, Britain's main power remained intact. Whether its moral courage could rally enough to use it (and what position would be taken by, e.g. the Dominions and the United States) is entirely speculative.

What about the then-battered-and-broken China? The rapidly modernizing Japan?

The French and Germans probably stepped into Britain's shoes here. Perhaps the U.S. had an easier time enforcing its Open Door policy (by which it tried to prevent Europe from carving up China like they had Africa), but otherwise little would have changed in East Asia.

What of the transatlantic telegraph cables that were laid by British companies in 1866 of our world? Did somebody else step up and finish the telegraph network, or was it forever incomplete?

If the British couldn't finish the job, France and the United States would have. No question there, really. The cable was too important, and became even more so as American power continued to grow.

There are so many different ways the fall could have altered world history in so many domains of life, that I decided to make a thread where people could speculate on and discuss the divergences from our world.

It has plenty of cousins, but then, so do the Snuffers. One more won't hurt.

--
Prof. Sian Kan, at your service.
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Jolanda Swan
Jolanda Swan
Posts: 1144

1 days ago
I imagine chaos.
Not only because the dominant power was beheaded, but because the horror of such a thing happening was very likely to cause an surge of dread. Old certainties would fall; monarchies would crumble. The texture of the world changed after the two world wars in part because of the horror unleashed. This would have been no war, but a sanity-rattling occurence nonetheless. So I imagine many revolutions, revived faith in the occult and the supernatural, and technology taking a very different direction.

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Lover of all things beautiful, secret admirer of ugly truths, fond of the Parabola Sun... and always delighted to role play.
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Siankan
Siankan
Posts: 735

1 days ago
Jolanda Swan wrote:
I imagine chaos.
Not only because the dominant power was beheaded, but because the horror of such a thing happening was very likely to cause an surge of dread. Old certainties would fall; monarchies would crumble. The texture of the world changed after the two world wars in part because of the horror unleashed. This would have been no war, but a sanity-rattling occurence nonetheless. So I imagine many revolutions, revived faith in the occult and the supernatural, and technology taking a very different direction.

I grant that there will be, no doubt, some shaking of "old certainties." That the Fall of London would produce worldwide chaos, I find hard to imagine. What about the fall of London would have caused Prussia to lose its king, much less distant China and Japan? The likeliest shaking is in British morale, but I suspect the other Great Powers (though the term doesn't fit yet when London falls, it's relevant nonetheless) are more than ready to step in and fill the void. Germany and Italy will take a larger slice of Africa, Russia will be largely unopposed in Asia, France might regain its lost ground in India. I don't see anybody panicking in those streets just because Victoria sells London.

For another, what little we know about the Surface does not imply widespread chaos. We know from the Empress's Shadow that Germany's still more-or-less on the same track we are familiar with. Vienna still seems peaceful (which is better than we could say for the Vienna of 1848). What hints we get from Cheesemonger missions does not bespeak revolution in the world order. Most particularly, the French clearly do not see the Fall of London as a source of panic; it's not difficult for those on a certain Ambition to start French ministers talking about selling Paris. You couldn't imagine such a thing happening if the Fall of London had truly shaken up the world.


So in short, I suspect we'll see a jostling of the Great Powers, a reordering of relative power, as Great Britain drops in standing and possibly (but in my mind unlikely) entirely off the list. The other major world events--the continuing rise of the United States, the restoration of the Mexican Republic, the Scramble for Africa, the collapse of China, the Meiji Restoration in Japan, and the powder-keg that is the Balkans--probably continue apace. Maybe some trick will stop the assassin's bomb in St. Petersburg, and Russia will be in a much better place. There's no real reason to expect it, however, nor to expect that the European realignment will avoid that crystallization that led to World War I. Much is possible, but little indeed is demonstrable.

--
Prof. Sian Kan, at your service.
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Mitch Young
Mitch Young
Posts: 11

9 hours ago
Jolanda Swan wrote:
I imagine chaos.
Not only because the dominant power was beheaded, but because the horror of such a thing happening was very likely to cause an surge of dread. Old certainties would fall; monarchies would crumble. The texture of the world changed after the two world wars in part because of the horror unleashed. This would have been no war, but a sanity-rattling occurence nonetheless. So I imagine many revolutions, revived faith in the occult and the supernatural, and technology taking a very different direction.

I would agree with Siankan. While the Fall would certainly shake up the world, humans are adaptable creatures and would no doubt come to terms with the event. While I don't think entire governments would fall, I think there is a nugget of truth to what you have speculated. In Sunless Sea, when you visit Vienna you find that the Liberation of Night has spread its influence to the surface and would no doubt have bolstered the real-life anarchist movements of the late 19th century.

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