It is a truism of alternate history that no good deed ever goes unpunished. Whenever someone attempts to change the world for the better, the intervention all too often allows some greater calamity to transpire. Kill Hitler and the Soviet Union will conquer Europe. Start an industrial revolution in Renaissance Europe and nuclear war will break out by the end of the sixteenth century. Give the prehistoric peoples of the Americas seed grain and livestock and their conquest by Sung-dynasty China is assured.
The Company of the Dead, the first novel by Australian author David Kowalski, shares this basic conceit, describing a world not entirely unlike our own doomed to destruction by the actions of a single honest man.
Continue reading “The Company of the Dead”
The First World War was one of the great catastrophes of human history. In four years of fighting, almost ten million soldiers were killed and wounded, with great swathes of the European continent laid to waste.
By the end of the war, the political landscape of Europe had changed irrevocably, with the German, Austrian, Russian and Ottoman Empires crumbling into a rabble of new nation-states straddling Central Europe and the Middle East.
Continue reading “A War Without Alternative: The First World War in Alternate History”
I’ll slip in a current-affairs reference into this article for, let’s face it, recession’s not exactly painting the landscape in bright, Wizard of Oz Technicolor shades of glorified self-smugness. It is grey and gloomy; distinct features of the misery of dreary, dire dystopia.
But I will not go so far as to say that society at the moment is sliding deeper into Orwellian doom, because that would be a rather grim view and detract from the fact that this is meant to segue into a positive review about a jolly good film.
Continue reading “Brazil”
Historically, Friedrich III was already terminally ill with cancer when he ascended the throne in 1888 and died 99 days thereafter.
He was married to Princess Victoria, eldest child of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, and held Great Britain in high regard (half of his personal medical staff was British).
Friedrich was on excellent terms with his parents-in-law; took rather liberal views and there are indications that he wished to turn the German Empire into a constitutional monarchy modeled after the British. Continue reading “What If Friedrich III Had Lived?”
From a narrow slit in the thick steel hide of the British tank a light burst out. The blinding 13-million candlepower light pierced the darkness when a moment later the solid beam of light changed on the command of “Scatter!”
Reaching into the inky night the shaft of light began to strobe. It dazzled and disoriented the enemy who unwisely tried to take aim at its brilliant flicking beam. With the adversary illuminated and confused, the tank rolled through the countryside ready to finish off their foe. Continue reading “Scatter! Britain’s Secret Tank Weapon”
This shows Hollywood stars Clark Gable and Joan Crawford indulging in a cigarette in the 1934 film Chained.
Despite the many health risks associated with smoking tobacco, in the Golden Era, cigarette smoking was a fashion statement that showed the smoker to be a classy person. Indeed, many a student bedroom is adorned with the iconic photograph of Audrey Hepburn with cigarette holder clinched betwixted gloved fingers.
Continue reading “Tobacco’s Golden Era”
Art Fitzpatrick is one of those forgotten heroes of the Golden Era whose romantic advertisements for period automakers as Lincoln, Pontiac and Studebaker continue to enchant up to this very day.
Continue reading “The Art of Art Fitzpatrick”
This old photograph of the Viceregal Lodge in Simla, India comes from the 1909 book Trans-Himalaya: Discoveries and Adventurers in Tibet by the Swedish explorer and topographer Sven Hedin, which can be read in full at Project Gutenberg. Continue reading “Viceregal Lodge, Simla”
Whenever a new technology is introduced, whether on the battlefield or at home, there is always a brief period when inventors, unfamiliar with the new concepts, begin experimenting with designs and plans, trying to push innovation to the limit. While these experiments occasionally produce useful results, the great majority end up on the scrap heap of history.
One such forgotten experiment was the A7V Sturmpanzerwagen, an early German attempt at creating a battle-ready tank. Continue reading “A7V Sturmpanzerwagen”
With a collection of historical photographs of the city of Palm Springs, Architectural Digest celebrates “the innovative style and legacy of legendary architects and designers who left their mark on this California desert oasis.”
Continue reading “Desert Modernism in Palm Springs”