Christopher G. Nuttall
Blurb: Captain Cozort had been honoured to have been chosen as the commander of the third American starship to have been built, in a world where America is the dominant power, the ruler of the world. Planting an American colony at Tau Ceti should have been easy, right?
What he never expected was for his entire starship to have been blown across the dimensions to an alternate history, where America struggles with terrorists and suffers for a dependence on oil, where there has never been a serious space program – and where the USS Enterprise is a treasure beyond price…
In an unfamiliar world, Captain Cozort must save his ship, and his nation, even in spite of its own government…
For everyone who knows a writer, never underestimate the power of your encouragement. A kind word can bring inspiration; a harsh word can bring improvements. No comments can ruin a writer’s ego, as in nothing being said at all – and cause the book to expire stillborn. S M Stirling and Travis Taylor provided much-needed encouragement. Razwhana, who was accidentally responsible for the conception, deserves a round of thanks.
Numerous Baen Barflies were very helpful; including, but not limited to…
Mickey zvi Maor
Antonio Vicente O. Carlos
If I’ve forgotten anyone, I can only extend my apologies and confirm that you were helpful.
Every event in history presents a question...
What if things had turned out differently?
Roughly seven years ago, I was introduced to alternate history though reading – accidentally – ‘Tilting the Balance’ by Harry Turtledove. Once I read, I was hooked; I devoured the remainder of the series and moved on through the rest of Harry’s works until I’d read them all. He is a master of alternate history; his flaws do not diminish his work. Other alternative history followed, both written and Internet, until I did the only thing I could. I started an online alternate history group.
There is a particular kind of alternate history that is referred to in the community as the ‘Alien Space Bats’. In ASB, it represents the use of unusual events; time travel, magic and changes to the solar system, as plot devices. In 2002, for example, I watched the film of The Final Countdown, where the USS Enterprise was sent back to Pearl Harbour in 1941 – just before the Japanese bombed it. When it came to writing my first real Alternate History novel, I decided that time travel would play some part in it.
But then what? Another idea came to me, from the Salaam universe I’d been working on, on and off, for the last few months (Baen barflies will know what I mean). Part of the history of Salaam included a starship from Salaam’s era being sent back to the war with Thule (a joke based on S M Stirling’s ‘Draka’) and averting the genocide that began the war. For several reasons, I put that on one side while writing Empire, and then I had the idea of tossing a starship back to the present day. To make matters more interesting, I wanted a starship from an alternative timeline.
So I had the bare bones of an idea. What next? Designing the alternative timeline, of course. Nazi timelines have been done to death, but what about a different America? Scott Palter had written two (Dark America and Paney War – Google them) and I asked him if I could borrow the basic idea. There are some changes – see if you can spot them. One major change is in the attitude the two timelines take to foreign affairs.
The US, to quote Scott (again), is not the political and ideological virgin it likes to think of itself as. However, it has, for the last twenty years, fought battles that were badly planned and won victories that have never been acknowledged by the opponents. From 1949 until recently, the US never tried to overthrow a hostile government by direct force – something that has gained it a reputation for weakness. Osama Bin Laden reportedly joked that all the US would do in response to 9/11 was file a lawsuit.
And yet people complain. It was ludicrous to believe that Iraq would be peaceful and flourishing the minute Saddam was removed, but some people seem to have thought just that. When a minor incident of abusing prisoners occurred, people claimed that the US was evil, even though Saddam had looted, raped and tortured an entire people. Due to a skilful propaganda campaign, the US is increasingly seen as the villain – the global bully.
Needless to say, I do not agree with that assessment. In United States Starship, I try to show what a semi-fascist US might be like, and how it might treat its enemies…
Christopher G. Nuttall
From: American Contradictions. Horner, Jack. University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, 2004.
The disparity in power between the United States of America and the rest of the world is quite literally staggering, even when one considers the many practical difficulties that face American leaders in bringing that might to bear. America possesses the world’s largest navy, most advanced airforce, most capable army and an economic base that dwarfs any other nation on Earth.
Further, America possesses many other advantages that are not immediately apparent. To the north, Canada sits, a friendly ally and one whose military is mainly under American influence, if not outright control. To the south, Mexico, which poses no threat beyond illegal immigration and border raids. In the Caribbean, small dictatorships that have no ability to resist American might, should the sleeping giant chose to deploy it.
Against the rest of the world, the US brings a massive navy with the world’s only global transport net. Supercarriers, each more powerful than most nations’ entire air forces, dominate the waves. That superiority, like the British Empire of days gone by, allows them to transport their armies to wherever their might be needed, while a skilled marine force allows them to land wherever and whenever they want. The superiority of the United States Navy prevents any hostile landing on the Continental United States – indeed the last time that border was successfully challenged was 1812.
Finally, the US dominates space, with the ability to collect intelligence from the entire globe. Despite the inherent limitations of orbital surveillance, it is extremely difficult to hide from the unblinking eyes of spy satellites, providing US commanders with detailed intelligence that eliminated the fog of war. The handful of casualties suffered in the recent war [Iraq 2003/2nd Gulf War/War on Saddam – ed] was a direct result of this intelligence and its use by commanders.
Therefore, it is clear that the US dominates the world in practice, but recent events have shown that such dominance is hardly recognised by far too many people. We must ask, therefore, why this is so.
The answer appears to lie in the American psyche. The Americans are not hostile towards the world, nor are they blessed with the determination – President Bush’s rhetoric aside – to spread democracy around the planet. The American attitude, in the words of Scott Palter, “is best summed up by Will Smith’s character in ID4 (Independence Day – The Movie). He is beating the alien senseless after out-cheating it in a dogfight. What patriotic words is he screaming? “You ruined my weekend. I could have been at a barbeque!!!” Our national totem should be the grizzly bear. If left alone, we are quite capable of ignoring the rest of the planet most of the time. When annoyed we can reach as far as Afghanistan to make our annoyance felt.”
It is clear that America does not have to tolerate the existence of regimes that are openly hostile (North Korea, China), covertly hostile (Saudi Arabia, Iran) or overtly nationalistic (France, Japan, Russia). American superiority means, to paraphrase Winston Churchill, that the ‘Americans face the Saudis, the Chinese, the Russians and the Rest – the Americans can beat the lot.’ America vs. the world would be brutal and harsh, but it would have only one outcome. Careful preparation could neutralise any threat posed by nuclear weapons – the one sure deterrent to the casualty-scared American government.
It remains – thankfully – a matter of speculation of what could have happened if the Americans had been inclined to use their tremendous power and position of superiority to remake the world in their image right from the moment that they knew that they possessed such power…