Republic of Pontus map

Countries That Almost Existed

Charles-Maurice de Talleyrand proposed dividing up Belgium between France, Germany and the Netherlands. Heinrich Himmler fantasized about crowning himself regent of an independent Burgundy. The Allies in World War II had multiple plans for Balkan federation. Iraq and Libya both pushed plans for Arab unification.

The only things these schemes have in common is that nothing came of them. Belgium still exists. Burgundy doesn’t. The Balkans and the Arab world are even more divided.

What if history had taken a different turn? Here is a look at the countries that almost existed.

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The Great Gatsby show

Be Part of Gatsby’s Entourage for a Night

The Great Gatsby Belgium, an immersive play, has premièred at a secret location. Currently running in Dutch and French, soon the London cast will travel down to Brussels to perform the original English version here as well.

As we mentioned in our preview of the show, The Great Gatsby is nothing like you’re used to. People aren’t taking their seats in a theater and watching what happens on the stage. Here you are literally part of the play. Actors will interact with you, you might be asked to follow them into another room, alone or with a small group of people. You might become the focal point of a scene.

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The Umbrella Academy

The Umbrella Academy

Originally a comic by Gerard Way of My Chemical Romance fame, the books have been turned into the first season of a TV series, mostly covering the story arc known as The Apocalypse Suite.

Years ago, in 1989, all around the world, 43 women gave birth on the same day. This might not sound strange, were it not for the fact that none of them had been pregnant at the start of the day. Seven of these children are adopted by Reginald Hargreeves, only to be treated to a cold life where nothing matters but becoming superheroes destined to ward off the apocalypse. Needless to say, this has left a mark on the children, now adults, and each has their own personal issues to overcome.

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North America map

Hemisphere Defense or Sea Command: America’s Choice in 1940

On the eve of America’s entry into World War II, George Fielding Eliot reported for Life magazine that the country essentially had three ways to defend itself against an Axis invasion.

He rejected the first option, a purely defensive strategy, out of hand. Protecting just the United States, the Caribbean, the Panama Canal and Samoa, but not Canada, Greenland, Newfoundland and South America, would allow Germany and Japan to gain footholds in the Americas.

The whole of military history rises up to warn us that this is the inevitable prelude to defeat.

The choice, he argued, was between hemisphere defense and sea command.

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The Great Gatsby cast

Get Immersed in Gatsby’s Big Night

After more than three years of overwhelming success, The Great Gatsby, the immersive musical theater, is coming from London’s West End (where it is still running in the London Bridge area) to Belgium.

Starting this March, and running into May, shows will be held in Dutch, French and English in a secret location in the heart of Brussels.

Never Was was lucky enough to attend the press conference introducing the principal Dutch- and French-speaking cast. Because the Jazz Age is bread and butter to many dieselpunks, this piece will tell you more about this unique show.

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Japanese Empire map

The Rise and Fall of Japan’s Empire in Maps

It is debatable when the history of the Japanese Empire began. One can go back to the Meiji Restoration of 1868, but wasn’t the 1894-95 Sino-Japanese War, fought over influence in Korea, really the starting point of Japanese imperialism?

Or the 1904-05 Russo-Japanese War? Fought for influence in Korea as well as Manchuria.

Or 1910, when Japan annexed Korea?

A watershed moment came in 1931, when Japan occupied Manchuria. There was no doubt at that point the island nation had become a colonial and an expansionist power.

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Ghosts of Empire

Ghosts of Empire

The long-awaited sequel to Ghosts of Karnak (reviewed here), book four in George Mann’s Ghost series, is a disappointing read. I’ll just come out and say it from the start.

I’ve been a fan of his works so far, even though I will admit I have not read all of them, and I have especially enjoyed his Newbury and Hobbs series.

Whereas I previously didn’t feel I was missing out from not having read the first two installments in the series, I felt like I was missing big chunks by only having read Ghosts of Karnak with this latest book. Luckily I did read that one or I would have been clueless and enjoyed it even less.

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Filthy ’47 Dieselpunk Audio Drama

Filthy 47

Filthy ’47, by Danvers Nettlefold, is an upcoming dieselpunk audio drama in four parts, two excerpts of which have been published on the narrator’s YouTube channel.

After watching and listening to the excerpts, I am rather intrigued concerning the whole story and I hope the final product will be significantly longer than the excerpts times four. But since the fist excerpt is labeled Episode 2, scene 15, there is a lot of goodness to come.

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