Point of Divergence
Fifteen Years in Sixty Issues and Sixty (plus Forty1) Random Quotes

Hold It, Evil Thought 01

My first colophon Well hello and hi there. My name is David Johnson, and here I am foolishly trying to get into another APA.

A bit of bio first: I’m 36...

Oh, you want more...

I’m a longtime SF Fan, also into comics, local history, hiking, and, these days, "surfing the net." Probably my favorite type of SF these days is Alternate History — thus my interest in this APA. I currently work at Rio Hondo College Library, where my job is, essentially, to be the library’s computer department.

Hold It, Evil Thought 02

John Smith doesn’t remember Norsemen? I would have thought that even as late as the 16th century, you could still sneak up behind an Englishman, say “Vikings”, and watch him jump about twelve feet.

Hold It, Evil Thought 03

Gads, the free/slave state fights over dividing up Mexico would have been something. How do you think that would end up? Would the Mexican states just be “transferred” over, reasonably intact? Would some or all of them be declared “territories”, as the areas we did get were – kinda tricky to pull off, when some of them have major cities in them. The South is certainly likely to argue that any new Mexican states are as “south” as you can get, but the North and the Mexican territories are unlikely to agree. You probably will the Civil War early.

Well, I have doubts about your use of the word ’Inevitable’...especially in an alternate-history zine...

Hold It, Evil Thought 04

“Life was simpler and easier” I’ve always doubted this description about any piece of the past. [begin diatribe] I suspect said viewpoint is created by a) the person not knowing enough/having forgotten much about the given period and, b) it looking easier because you (or someone else) have already worked-out the solutions to the problems you remember/have read about – while forgetting that with these problems out of the way, life will bring you a whole new set (life is funny that way). [end diatribe]

So, What If ’life on Mars’ was discovered in the early 70’s instead of now? At the time, NASA was winding down from Apollo and its budget was beginning the long slow decline. Viking’s lack of discovering evidence of life on Mars was kinda the final nail in space’s first era of exploration. Would the opposite — even coming from a rock in Antarctica rather than a multi-billion dollar space probe — have halted NASA’s financial decline? Or would it merely have changed the priorities of what money they did get? IOW, instead of Pioneer’s & Voyager’s to the outer planets, we get a whole flock of Mars landers?

Hold It, Evil Thought 05

I’ve got a webpage now (doesn’t everybody?), mostly composed of TrolleyWorld AH stuff at the moment. Several of the maps I’ve done here and a bunch of ’chimeras’ of TW are in the “Images” section, you might want to take a look. It’s at: www.geocities.com/SoHo/2019

I personally still can’t buy a Napoleon who would be keen on running American (nor an America keen on having him run it). It also seems unlikely that if the American Revolution failed, the French Revolution would have gone sufficiently the same way as to allow Nappy to take over in the first place.

Hold It, Evil Thought 06

Now I’ll be the first to admit that much of quantum theory gives me a major headache (which is why I suspect it’s a pretty good description of reality. Nothing like reality to give one a headache...)

To say there are “gaps” in how well the writers of Sliders think things through is to be excessively charitable. Every “alternate” world they go to seems to have only one thing changed – in spite of the fact that the changing of that one thing would lead to a myriad of other changes.

Hold It, Evil Thought 07

“‘The mid June sun was still overhead...The blinding spring sunshine...’ What sort of seasons to you have?” The kind where the author doesn’t always catch every time reference when he moves the story back about three months...

Hold It, Evil Thought 08

“In 1889, Los Angeles probably not have been one of the main targets of the British coming in to the west.” Hmmm, maybe, maybe not. In 1889, L.A. had already had its first land-boom (and nearly recovered from the collapse of same) and its population was around 100,000. San Francisco, at the same time, had about 300,000, which made it the largest city in California (probably the largest west of the Rockies), but L.A. was a strong number two (Sacramento and San Diego at the same time were only ~25,000 and ~17,000, respectively). L.A. also had the beginnings of a port, and two major transcontinental railroad lines to it (SoPac & Santa Fe). If I was a British commander, I think this would make it a pretty decent target.

Given how very rare (and very expensive) A-Bombs were for the first few years, it seems unlikely that anyone would risk using something like an A-9 to deliver one. I’d be very surprised if it’s success rate exceeded 70% — meaning you’d have a nearly one in three chance of a nuclear-tipped missile blowing up on the pad. Messy...

Hold It, Evil Thought 09

I think that, in the long run, all empires just become too expensive to maintain. Kinda like buying on margin: One economic downturn and your finances fall apart.

Hold It, Evil Thought 10

My second colophon “...I’m just astonished that [Sliders] was picked up by the Sci-Fi Channel” Ummm, you are talking about the channel that runs Incredible Hulk marathons, you know...

Now, if you can successfully argue that on a world where the floods, droughts, and major storms all happen at different times from OTL will still end up with history running near enough the same as OTL as to have Mongols, or England, or any group/nation currently existing here, well, I’ll just have to give up and believe in predestination...

Hold It, Evil Thought 11

My, this was creatively collated. Kinkos?

I think the probability is high that the Benin will accept Iberian help, but I’m not sure that the European influence will necessarily be “fatal” – the situation might develop more like Ethiopia’s did (especially if France or England starts making moves in the area). As an aside, how is Iberia been financing these three centuries of warfare in Africa?

Hold It, Evil Thought 12

I try to create little “slices of life” from AH’s more than just histories, putting them in formats (like book excerpts) that make it seem like they are from that AH.

Oh, this is excellent! A nicely thought out little war between Germany & Italy. The motives are good (the reactions of Hitler are spot on — especially that “invading to put down civil unrest” bit) and the POD is highly believable.
Hold It, Evil Thought 13

Can you say “Last Minute?” I knew you could.

Well, it’s just two days until I have to mail this zine off and I’m just starting on it now. No real reason beyond pure procrastination – I could have done it anytime in the last six weeks (well, okay, not the week I was on my trip...). So if things seem a little rushed or ill-thought-out here it’s because this is the last moment – and it’s all my fault.

Hold It, Evil Thought 14

the next colophon “You’re offering to change history?” he said. “Is that it? Rewrite the...”

“Oh, my dear Vimes, history changes all the time. It is constantly being reexamined and reevaluated, otherwise how would we be able to keep historians occupied? We can’t possibly allow people with their sort of minds to walk around with time on their hands.”

Here’s an interesting little tidbit of connection. While researching Lowe for my “Lowe Planet Airship” AH, I discovered that, during the War of the Triple Alliance, Brazil bought both balloons and training for some of its officers from Lowe.

Hold It, Evil Thought 15

I think the world-wide social effects of a “No More England” scenario are going to be sufficiently severe enough to make any sort of predictions fuzzy at best. It doesn’t take a lot of imagination to go “hey, if England could go, we could be next!” and that’d lead to numerous (and well membered) doomsday cults, “do it before we vanish” nihilists, major religious upswings, all are in the cards. And all would be exacerbated by the world-wide depression taking out such a major economic player as England would cause.

I suspect that the spread of AIDS has much more to do with the last half-century’s increase in Africa in transit speed and population density than any success against “traditional” diseases – if for no other reason than those successes are hardly what you could call widespread in Africa (malaria alone is still killing, what, a million a year in Africa, and basically always has).

Hold It, Evil Thought 16

I find it interesting that you and Robert managed to have pretty much the same outcome for the war (over by New Years), yet you postulate a more gentle Reconstruction, and he seems to be setting up things where the South is a hotbed of guerrilla warfare for years.

Hold It, Evil Thought 17

Boy! I’m setting new records for “Last Minute” this time! In spite of my promises to myself to work on this over the Christmas break (not to mention, the ones about working on it in the weeks before) here it is, January 4th , 1999 and I’m still typing away (at least I’ve finished the comment/coments – now for the story comments).

“Meet your new President, a convicted pedophile-alcoholic-sociopath.”

[cynic mode on] Let’s: See, loves children, can emphasize with those with problems, and is willing to do whatever it takes to meet his goals for the country...

...Sounds like Presidential material to me. [cynic mode off]

Hold It, Evil Thought 18

the next colophon Hitler might use a missile for a nuke just because it was “cool” – but Goring almost certainly would have used a bomber (he also almost certainly would have moved more funds into bomber R&D and construction, too, so there’d be a bomber that could do it).

IAE, this is one of the more realistic “Germany Wins” scenarios I’ve seen since it does address all the problems Germany would have winning (gives them a single front war, gives them a good oil supply, keeps the U.S. out and keeps Hitler’s more erratic ideas from fouling things up – though to be honest, a Goring/Hess co-rule might come up with some pretty stupid decisions of its own).

Hold It, Evil Thought 19

Hmmm, a “Civil War” fought in Congress and the courts – what a cool idea! The South will still lose, of course, but it could take decades.

While it would take two-thirds of the states for a Constitutional amendment, would one really be necessary to eliminate slavery? After all, I see nothing in the Constitution requiring slavery to be allowed (as opposed to the CSA constitution). So perhaps all the legal fun could start with Congress passing (narrowly) an anti-slavery bill (say something mild, like a future cut-off date after which you would be born free) and the southern states challenging it. (the South’s arguments as to why “State’s Rights” can be abrogated by the Dred Scott decision, but not the “Free-Birth bill of 1862” ought to be amusingly baroque).

“Can you scan it and send me a copy?” Okay, I’ll rummage around and see if I can find it (it’s somewhere in my dresser – which isn’t narrowing it down as much as it sounds).

Hold It, Evil Thought 20

While I suspect that the “Butterfly Effect” can “easily change history,” I too dislike works that show no real research. Even if the pattern of the buckshot makes is effectively random, you gotta at least know which way the shotgun’s pointed.

Hold It, Evil Thought 21

“...a State Department or CIA report...when another crisis brought up the possibility of dissolution.” Any idea where I could get that report (he said, hoping for a nice simple website to go to)?

An alternate colophon There’s a bit of distance between realizing that the paint is highly flammable, and realizing it would make a good solid propellant. More importantly, did Germany have enough aluminium for such a fuel? I’m pretty sure they didn’t think they had enough to (literally) burn...

Hold It, Evil Thought 22

Last disty’s “trip report” was “written” by a David Johnson that “lives” on TrolleyWorld. It was/would have been meant for that world’s equivalent of Point Of Divergence called “Paths of Decision.” Basically, it would be an APA on TrolleyWorld dedicated to AH, much as P.O.D. is on this world.

Hold It, Evil Thought 23

Basically, these people are not your average Joes (and I’ve tried to indicate this in the story) and are even somewhat pre-adapted to believe they’re on an alternate timeline.

Actually, IMHO, Marx was more influenced by Christianity than by Darwin. Communism after all pretty much is a religion.

Hold It, Evil Thought 24

Continues to be interesting, but it still seems to lack the urgency it needs. Sharon’s up against a, what, four day deadline where she must have her daughter by then if she wants to get her out of this world. She’s bouncing between really desperate prison escapees, religious loonies, and a vindictive ex. Everyone’s lying to her, time’s running out, and in a situation even half so desperate as this I’d be in Extreme Panic Mode, even if I was trying to cover it.

I tend to think of “Political Correctness” as man’s latest fling with sympathetic magic – if you call it something else it will become something else. This never really works.

Hold It, Evil Thought 25

Here it is, just a week before I need to print this thing off and mail it and – I’ve just discovered – here it is, just a week before I need to print this thing off and mail it.

Hold It, Evil Thought 26

What I find interesting about the history of evolution is that for centuries one of the main “biological” concepts was “The Great Chain of Being” – the idea that there was a contiguous range of species from “lowest” to “highest.” This extended even to the search for species to “fill in the gaps” between other species – the origin of the idea of “missing links.” Yet no one seemed to take it to the next step.

In a way, though, it “pre-adapted” the biological sciences to evolution.

Not a clue when people start[ed going on about Atlantis as though it was a real place, though I suspect it was right from the beginning. But it’s a pretty good bet that somewhere in the Middle Ages it became Officially Accepted as that’s about the time the whole “Greek Philosophers Could Do No Wrong” mindset got started up.

Hold It, Evil Thought 27

the next colophon One of the more interesting ones (to me, anyway) would be the possibility that the Scottish “Darien” colony in Panama actually became, if not a success, at least sustainable for a few decades. This could have side-effects from the English/Scottish “Act of Union” not occurring (and thus, probably never occurring), to a nice little war between England, Scotland, and Spain – with the sides in this war up for grabs.

Wow! You managed to turn a minor “what-if” centered in Italy into another “Nine Nations of North America” timeline!

Hold It, Evil Thought 28

“It sounds like that Island is just determined to stop any long term animal colonization.” Nah, that just how 95% of all “Sim Life” games end up...

Actually, the Theosophical Society (and I am so amazed my spellchecker didn’t quack at that!) has its main headquarters/library right near me in Altadena.

Hold It, Evil Thought 29

Still, the main sticking point of this What-If is getting a POD that makes for an Austria/Hungarian government that reacts swiftly and decisively – and compared to that, fielding a good army is a snap!

Hold It, Evil Thought 30

Certainly, I can see the Soviets supporting Israel on the grounds that a) its got a lot of former Soviet citizens and b) they think it’s a bad idea to spread the concept of revolutions and guerilla warfare amongst the Arabs, what with their own vast Islamic-majority territories (“b,” of course, is the only important point). And, of course, if the Soviets supported Israel (first, that is), the U.S. would just have to support the Arabs (though the fights in Congress about this would be...fun).

Hold It, Evil Thought 31

I love the sinified Latin/Mediterranean names. It’s also interesting that Rome (for a while) losing the east apparently results in a Rome that doesn’t fall – ever.

Hold It, Evil Thought 32

Anywho, it’s now nearing the end of the first month of the third year of the Zeroies and – in spite of getting a good start on comments back at the beginning of December – I’m just finishing up now, right at the deadline. ‘Course, it’s looking as if the deadline might get moved forwards a bit to miss Capricon, but I’m going to try and get this off on time anyway – just for practice.

“Here we see Jim as he sneaks up behind the Wicked Witch in order to tag her. By tagging Wicked Witches, zoologists can track their movements and habits.

Oh, oh. The Wicked Witch has spotted Jim and turned him into a frog. This may be a problem for him.

And, much as Jim can suddenly become an amphibian, so too can fire suddenly strike your house. That is why you need a homeowners policy from
‘Mutual of Omaha...’

Hold It, Evil Thought 33

Now, if you’re talking critical success, or success at fulfilling some personal standards (“I want to write the most historically accurate Alternate History ever!” the young author said...), well that’s something different. Still, I suspect you could come up with scenarios where that ruins a good author too.

“...after the twenty-second year of researching 14th century land use in Moldavia, it became apparent that Timmy Scriber was never going to finish revising his book on how the history of Europe would have been different if Moldavia was spelled with an extra ’L’”

Hold It, Evil Thought 34

The more I think about it, though, the cooler a scenario where, fer instance, Britannia (say a Anglo-French core with smaller nations like the Netherlands and Ireland as the periphery) begins to fall apart in the late 19th century under an ur-Victoria, following a disastrous war with the Hapsburg-German Empire. Heck, it could disassemble so much even its England and France proper might split into smaller components. La République de Bourgogne, anyone?

Hold It, Evil Thought 35

Okay, first off, before anything else, the lack of spacing between paragraphs – especially full justified paragraphs – makes this incredibly difficult to read.

If Brazil ever does reconquer (old) Portugal a few decades later, I think that Portugal will be in for somewhat of a shock to discover they’re now the junior partner...

Hold It, Evil Thought 36

Wow! This is the “All Docimo” issue of POD, isn’t it?

Hold It, Evil Thought 37

On the whole, I can’t see Nazi Germany lasting beyond 1955 or so – and I think it’s unlikely that it’ll get the bomb before the U.S. and Britain – with a good chance that the Soviets beat it too (then nuke it till it glows).

Of course, I have a cat who likes mandarin orange juice and pineapple, so I may not be the best judge of such things...

Hold It, Evil Thought 38

Excellent story! It’s especially refreshing to see an AH with a surviving Angevin dynasty that doesn’t have an empire covering half of Western Europe.

Hold It, Evil Thought 39

A twenty-eight year old John Barrymore was there too – thirty years before his son, the father of Drew Barrymore was born. So, something kills him (a fairly easy divergence, actually, as after the quake, he went back up to his hotel room in spite of the fact that the front of the hotel was split in two, then slept there until smoke from the fire awoke him. He dressed and left just as the hotel burst into flames. Then he nearly got shot as a looter...). Well, for one thing there’s going to be no Charlie’s Angels films – but ghod knows what other changes could happen.

You may be one of the few people on Earth who uses “Time Tunnel” and “Murray Leinster” in the same sentence. Everyone else has “Time Tunnel” = “Irwin Allen...”

Hold It, Evil Thought 40

another colophon Somehow, I can’t see Wilson proposing this – and I certainly can’t see it getting passed through Congress if he did. America is about to start a two-decade reign of pretending anything east of Maine doesn’t exist. And they’re not going to go and spoil that illusion by promising something that will probably get them involved in yet another pointless (to their minds) European war

Hold It, Evil Thought 41

It just doesn’t look like Spain really cared much at all about its Californian “possessions” beyond writing “Spanish Territory” on their maps.

The New Madrid quake hitting in 1861 could have some very interesting, umm, consequences. Right off the top of my head, it’s bound to have some non-constructive effects on any and all defensive works along the Mississippi.

Hold It, Evil Thought 42

Quite a long break between disties this time. So, just to try something completely different, I thought I’d use some of it to actually write for the next one, rather than wait for that last moment like I usually do. Which means I’m already up to six pages of drek stuff and I haven’t even got POD 41 yet.

Heck, I might even write some actual AH!

Hmmm, interesting timeline. Seemed to be quite a bit nicer than ours too – right up to that whole nuclear war thingy...

Hold It, Evil Thought 43

How about a ‘toon match-up: Disney versus Warner Bros? I think Warner Bros would kick butt. Oh, definitely. Bugs alone could probably take-out Disney’s stable of characters (up to and including the dragon from Sleeping Beauty...). Mind, the average school girl from a Japanese anime could take both groups out – but then, the average school girl in Japanese anime has a rapid-fire-rocket-launcher in her book bag (and a really big hammer from...somewhere...), so that probably isn’t entirely fair...

Hold It, Evil Thought 44

Almost two years to write it, with three different versions – and it’s still got typos, grammatical amusements, and unclear bits. Typical...

The whole origin of this story was me noticing one day that every time (in a story) someone invents (or stumbles on) a “crosstime” device, it always deposits them in a world with a history at least different enough to be visible – if only after a while.

I realized this was incredibly geocentric of us, with – basically – the whole of the universe being driven by how well Napoleon does or if the South wins or if Rome falls or not.

Hold It, Evil Thought 45

another colophon There’s currently a big argument (again) on SHWI on Germany’s chances of building an atomic bomb. Basic thought is that they could do it if they don’t mind cutting out some other little things – like their army, air force, navy, etc...

Oh, and their economy collapses before they finish.

Japan’s chances of building an a-bomb during WWII (without a much, earlier POD – say in the 19th century or so) are considerably less than Germany’s.

Hold It, Evil Thought 46

“But this is pretty much how it was picked up in real life. All we basically did was pull the dates back 5-10 years.” And all you had to do to do it was eliminate WWII...;)

Question, though: If exploring other timelines has such risk to those lines, why is it allowed? Or, more correctly, why is it done by someone who obviously cares that a timeline is being wiped out?

Hold It, Evil Thought 47

Having tasted dried dog food as a youth (okay, I was nine – and it was mostly Milkbones...), I can safely say it’s not the worst thing I’ve ever tasted (not even the worst food), but it would certainly get a bit...boring pretty quickly (even if it makes its own gravy).

It’s interesting, though, that giving less men/materials to the Philippines might end up with them hurting the Japanese more.

Hold It, Evil Thought 48

I suspect that getting a lunar base – I mean, one that isn’t abandoned five or six years later – requires some sort of tech breakthrough that reduces launch costs at least ten-fold. It would help if it increases launch amounts ten-fold too. At that point, some sort of permanent base can be slipped inside NASA’s budget without completely changing the whole history of the United States legislative and executive branches for the last forty years...

Imagine the planning of a “blitzkrieg” where the first shot is a fusillade of ten or twelve kiloton “shells” hitting the enemy’s defenses...then following up with aircraft to hit the shocked survivors and tanks to roll through and take the territory. Oh sure, we know there’d be...negative effects from running your troops through the nicely radioactive debris...but that wouldn’t even occur to 1930’s military planners (or 1940’s or early-50’s, for that matter).

Hold It, Evil Thought 49

Your best bet might be to get a theocratic colony set up on the West Coast, north of San Francisco Bay, before either the Russians or Spanish or British start moving people in. Maybe someone looks at Drake’s Nova Albion on the map in the early 17th century and decides that there they shall build The New Jerusalem...

The Japanese do not attack Pearl Harbor...instead, they blockade Hawaii...” Japan trying to blockade Hawaii is just a really good way for Japan to lose its fleet as fast as possible – with the added benefit of keeping most of it from doing any thing else any where else until it sinks.

Hold It, Evil Thought 50

“On ‘professional historians’ reluctance to engage in what-if speculations; Why do they frown upon it?” If I had to guess, I think most of the time, the reason would be simpler than your suggested ‘philosophical’ objections. I would suspect that they put so much time and effort into discovering what really happened, that folks creating “what might have happeneds” seems, well, counterproductive...and maybe a bit insulting to their work. That’s not entirely rational...but then, historians are people, after all...

Hold It, Evil Thought 51

“Once the Spaniards knew of San Francisco Bay, it’d be natural for them to found a port to break up the Manila Galleons long return voyage.” While it may be a “natural” idea, given that the Spanish – while ignorant of San Francisco Bay – knew of several spots along the coast that would make good stopping points, yet never did anything about them, it starts to look like the only real “natural” thing for the Spanish to do is to not colonize California...<g>

Hold It, Evil Thought 52

Life After People just waves its hands and beams everyone off the planet one day, Mary Celeste like. And that’s not realistic. Which means its “after” is, as I said, basically fantasy.

Hold It, Evil Thought 53

Mystery Science Theater 3000 – SEASON ONE 1989-1990


Hold It, Evil Thought 54

The monorail in Vegas – as built – is simply not a viable mass transit system, for all the reasons I outlined. After half a century of monorail operations around the world, those sorts of problems simply should not exist. It’s basically like finding your municipal bus system is composed of wooden-bodied buses powered by straight-six gas engines and totally lacking in air-conditioning.

I think this scenario ends up setting up things for a U.S/Mexican conflict in the second half of the 19th century, probably by the 1870s at the latest.

Hold It, Evil Thought 55

At some point, the specter of an all-online (or at least, all digital) version of POD is going to have to raise it’s head again. It’s simply the only way that apa’s in general and POD in specific are going to maintain large enough member bases to actually survive. A lot of people who, when POD started, would have been interested in joining are pretty much getting their AH fix at sites like AlternateHistory.com

Karl Marx as a fantasy writer...now that might make for an interesting POD. I mean, the “Hitler becomes a writer/artist/actor” idea’s been done to death. But this one has the possibility of not only changing a lot of political history (to say nothing of a couple of wars), but to quite possibly shove fantasy literature into a whole new direction.

Hold It, Evil Thought 56

Darn it all, time snuck up on me again and here it is, less than five days before I have to print this, that I’m starting this. With luck, I’ll finish commenting to everyone anyway – and with even more luck, there won’t be any more typos/grammatical stupidities than usual...

Mind, I seriously doubt you can hide a growing population of thylacines for very long (more than a year or so) – to say nothing of an alien – in the age of the internet. No matter how careful and determined to not let the secret out, eventually someone will innocently upload a picture of him and his hunting dog “Ol’ Stripy” to Facebook or something...and before you know, it goes viral and I’m commenting on it on Digg.com.

Hold It, Evil Thought 57

That may just be me...but then again, it’s just me doing these comments.

“I don’t know a good word for ’wait until the last minute, let it pass, and still don’t produce anything until there’s but 2 days until collation...” Hmmm, Apa-member?...;)

Hold It, Evil Thought 58

Yep. Google is your friend (or at least, a really good acquaintance...).

Or, IOW, the “best you can do” in any WWII scenario is to not be allied with Germany...

Hold It, Evil Thought 59

Welcome one and all – we have left the Zeroies...

Abrams now, I suspect taking out Vulcan was just his way of saying “this will not be your Father’s Star Trek...”

Hold It, Evil Thought 60

Still, any rewrite that makes Galactica, 1980 actually interesting, is definitely worth seeing. ;)

Hold It, Evil Thought – A Zine by David Johnson