Paul von Hindenburg Oskar of Prussia

What If Germany Had Won the First World War?

Many a what-if has been written about a German victory in World War II. Alternate histories of a German victory in World War I are less popular, but they exist. Indeed, people started thinking about the consequences of a German victory during the war itself and feared it might give way to a German empire spanning nearly the whole of Europe.

Here is a look at some of the maps that were produced to show a German victory in what was at the time called simply “the Great War”. Continue reading “What If Germany Had Won the First World War?”

Low Countries map

What If Belgium and the Netherlands Had Remained One Country?

450 years ago this year, the Dutch Revolt against the Catholic king of Spain started. For eighty years, the largely Protestant provinces of the Netherlands fought for their independence. They got it in 1648, when the Peace of Münster (part of the Peace of Westphalia) recognized the Northern Netherlands as an independent republic.

But the largely Catholic South remained Spanish until 1714, when it became Austrian. It was briefly joined with the Netherlands after the defeat of Napoleon, but by then the two had grown apart culturally, economically and linguistically. Belgium seceded from the Kingdom of the Netherlands in 1830.

This separation was not preordained. In 1581, Brabant (which is now split between Belgium and the Netherlands), Flanders as well as Mechelen had joined the Northern provinces in their declaration of independence, the Act of Abjuration. But they were quickly reconquered by Spanish forces. Antwerp and Brussels had been the centers of economic and political life in the Low Countries. They too fell under Spanish rule. The North continued as a republic, centered on Amsterdam.

What if the rebels had succeeded in holding the South? What could a United Netherlands have looked like? Continue reading “What If Belgium and the Netherlands Had Remained One Country?”

The Curious Creations of Christine McConnell

The Curious Creations of Christine McConnell
The Curious Creations of Christine McConnell

Christine is a beautiful retro-style gal, living all alone in a house that wouldn’t look amiss in the latest incarnation of the horror classic The House on Haunted Hill.

She doesn’t live alone, however, sharing her home with a variety of monsters (literally) ranging from Rankle, the mummified cat; Rose, who is assumed to be mostly a raccoon; and Edgar, who looks like he could be a retro-style werewolf.

Top that off with ghostly roommate Vivienne, played by none other than Dita von Teese and several other wacky characters. Continue reading “The Curious Creations of Christine McConnell”

Infernal Devices

Infernal Devices
Infernal Devices

K.W. Jeter’s Infernal Devices is a classic steampunk novel worth reading. Having been published in the early 1980s, it is was on of the earliest works of steampunk and has a lot of the themes that would connect steampunk works.

The author, Jeter, is considered a founding father of steampunk. He is famously credited with coining the term steampunk in an interview. Almost as an afterthought he said you might call the new movement something like “steampunk”. The term ended up sticking even if Infernal Devices faded into relative obscurity. Continue reading “Infernal Devices”

A Very British Coup

A Very British Coup
A Very British Coup

In 1988, Channel 4 adapted Chris Mullin’s 1982 novel A Very British Coup for television. Although the country was well in the middle of the Thatcher boom at the time, the three-part miniseries harkened back to the 1970s and early 80s and its post-industrial gloom.

Under the last Labour government before Margaret Thatcher came to power, Britain had been plagued by strikes and energy blackouts, culminating in the humiliation of the world’s former superpower requiring a bailout from the IMF.

In Mullin’s story, it wasn’t Thatcher who won the election but the socialist Harry Perkins. The character is loosely based on Tony Benn, the real-world leader of the Labour left.

Perkins (played in the miniseries by Ray McAnally) is determined to make good on his election promises: (re)nationalizing industries, breaking up big media, withdrawing from NATO and scrapping Britain’s nuclear deterrent. His program spooks the British establishment. Spymasters, business tycoons and career civil servants conspire to bring Perkins down. Continue reading “A Very British Coup”

Marek Hlavaty artwork

The Art of Marek Hlavaty

Marek Hlavaty is an artist from Slovakia. Some of his artworks are set in a dieselpunk world where the Nazis have defeated Great Britain and the Soviet Union and continue to fight against the United States with their ally, Japan.

In one picture, we see a German interceptor preparing to take off from an airbase in Iceland. In another, Nazis land in the jungle of Amazonia and are mistaken for gods by the natives. Continue reading “The Art of Marek Hlavaty”

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The Skyborne Corsairs

The Skyborne Corsairs
The Skyborne Corsairs

The Skyborne Corsairs is a short steampunk novel written by Alexander Rooksmoor which I had the pleasure to read and review for you. My interest for the novel derived from the title: I like everything airship-connected. And everything steampunk too, so I considered this a must-read.

Anthony Cavendish is travelling in the Mediterranean Sea toward Algeria, where he is going to take his next command. The ship is attacked by sky pirates, who fly a type of aircraft never seen before. The pirates take everything valuable, kill whoever tries to oppose them and kidnap as many woman as possible, including Henrietta, Anthony’s wife.

Anthony is quite resigned never to see Henrietta again, but two other passengers, an Italian revolutionary and a Canadian author, convince him not to surrender and together they decide to hunt the pirates and free the women. Continue reading “The Skyborne Corsairs”

The Day of the Jackal

The Day of the Jackal
The Day of the Jackal

When French president Charles de Gaulle agreed to Algerian self-determination in 1961, his right-wing supporters were outraged. They had returned the general to power only three years earlier so he could put down the bloody uprising in France’s most prized colony. Some of the pieds-noirs, the Algerian French, and their sympathizers in the army banded together in the paramilitary Organisation de l’armée secrète (OAS) to stop the independence process with assassinations and bombings.

The Day of the Jackal, based on Frederick Forsyth’s novel of the same name, fictionalizes the group’s plots against De Gaulle. Continue reading “The Day of the Jackal”