In a place that wasn’t a place…
In a time where no time passes…
Two figures stood together, watching the timeline flow by.
“Our agent has returned to our base,” the first figure said. “All proceeds as expected.”
The second figure snorted. “It has not,” she said. “We cannot predict basic human reactions. They have their peace again. They will soon return to their peaceful ways, changing nothing, challenging nothing. What will happen when the wave sweeps across this universe, bringing…death to all who cannot resist?”
The first figure smiled. “Their world will move onto the right path,” he said. “They do not need to waste resources on…uplifting parts of their world, do they? They have been reminded of their vulnerability – and some of them know that we exist.”
“There will be massive upheaval,” the second figure said. “There will be a hunt for our agents. The social-political indicators…”
“They will find none,” the first figure said. “We permitted them a glimpse of what’s at stake; an ongoing push to force them further forward. Such is permitted, is it not?” The second figure said nothing. “Of the leading newcomers, one is a ruler, one is in a position of considerable influence…and one is in a coma.” There was a flicker of humour. “You can’t win them all.”
“Free will,” the second figure said. She made the word a curse. “There must always be free will?”
The first figure gave a mental impression of a shrug. “We cannot force attempts too far, for that will set off quantum interference,” he said. “We gambled enough with the second intrusion. We could not direct; only one of our agents is in a position to direct anything. There must be free will.”
The mind-tone was mildly ironic. The second figure didn’t react. “This is a dangerous game,” she said. “This part of the cosmos has remained free of the War. Your actions will make it a warzone.”
“Perhaps,” the first figure said. They stood together, gazing down at the spinning paths of time. “Perhaps not, not until it’s too late.”
The second figure radiated alarm. “The Enemy might decide to attempt an ultimate sanction,” she said. Her gaze slipped down to the universe. “They might attempt to destroy it all!”
The first figure didn’t answer. What did such an entity see when it – he – contemplated the universe? All things would be revealed, in time.
The American Revolution was a comedy of errors from start to finish. From the mistakes that led up to Lexington, to the disastrous Battle of Saratoga, the unwillingness to use the best commanders on either side, to the failures of both sides to turn their advantages into war-winning successes…both sides blundered so badly that it is rather amazing that neither one sought to reach a sincere accommodation with their opponents and fellow countrymen.
Of all of the potential Points of Divergences within the war, none are as astonishing as the Battle of Long Island, sometimes referred to as the Revolution’s Dunkirk. It has to be visualised to be understood; the largest American army, under the command of George Washington, trapped by the British Army, under the command of General Howe. Howe was not known for hurrying, as many historians have noted, but in this case…why did he have to? He had Washington right where he wanted him.
A single determined attack could have broken the American Army. A single ship in the water could have prevented the daring night-time escape of the entire army. Washington, almost untested, rose to the occasion magnificently, arranging a very stealthy and silent evacuation of the entire American Army. When the sun rose the next day…the British found that the Americans had literally vanished under their noses.
But…what if…Howe had taken the army prisoner?
Washington’s army was the only major combat force on the American side. Without it, the British could have swept up to Philadelphia – the seat of the Congress – very quickly. Could whoever held Washington’s position after his capture – Arnold? Gates? – have rallied the Americans again? Would the individual colonies have been willing to continue to fight as part of a losing side? No one likes a loser, after all, and everyone wants to be on the winning side…
Carrier Wars grew out of that idea, the concept of a quick end to the American Revolution. The existence and success of the American Revolution literally changed its world; what would the effects have been if it had been avoided or if it ended quickly? Would the French Monarchy, which had spent so much money supporting the Americans in the original timeline, survive with that extra money? Might Napoleon, rather than joining the French Revolution, have joined Louis instead? Would he have risen to a position of power, perhaps enough to have reformed the empire, rather than it collapsing under the weight of its internal problems? Would the absence of those years of turmoil mean that France would dominate Europe? Without the Napoleonic Invasion of 1812, would the Russians ever seek to reform themselves?
That idea grew into the seeds of a world. Technology, of course, would develop slower with fewer parties in the game. The German Empire, of course, would not exist; France or Russia would have crushed Prussia in the wake of settling old scores. America pushed forward development…and without it, there would be little need for such development. Technology would advance, of course, but there would be more time to play with each new development – what would Africa look like if the early explorers needed to build railways, instead of aircraft coming along during the later parts of the Scramble for Africa?
Such a world would be profoundly conservative. Slavery would probably exist longer in the British Empire, as the south of American would have a voice in such affairs, but at the same time the basic solution could have been applied in America – purchasing slaves through public subscription. Would that, in the end, have been less painful than the American Civil War? Racism, too, would have to fade, if not vanish, because of India; the Indians have to have a stake in the Empire, or they might rebel.
In many ways, it’s a better world than ours…
The entire concept of the Multiverse Time War is something I came up with for Second Chance. I have occasionally been frustrated when a book – such as the Island in the Sea of Time, Dies the Fire books – puts forward an event without explaining why the event happened. I left the Britain ISOT unexplained; so it got worked into Carrier Wars. From the point of view of those who observe, the world of Carrier Wars – TimeLine B – needs a kick in the butt…which, of course, the mysterious Enemy cannot allow…
But that’s getting ahead of myself. I started to wonder about what could be done to alter the universe, and of course I decided that they needed an American carrier from our timeline – it was originally intended to be the Eisenhower, and then it occurred to me that there would be more tension with the Washington – and a French carrier; one that would balance affairs. I decided that the Russians wouldn’t want a carrier…so they got some troopships instead.
In our world, change affects everyone. What would happen if a society like the United Empire learnt about our world – and about some of the science there? I took that thought, and ran with it, and…well, that’s what you’re holding in your hand, or staring at on your computer screen, or whatever.
The universe of Carrier Wars will return…in some universe. Perhaps even this one.
Christopher G. Nuttall
Edinburgh - 23/04/06