West African Socialist Federation? President H.P. Lovecraft? More Fun Alternate Timelines
The good old alternate history forum serves as another place where I can find content to blog about, even though I'm no longer a member. Here are a couple interesting ones I found over the last couple weeks.
African Yugoslavia: A West African Story-In this one, a mutiny by French African soldiers who haven't been paid for their World War II service kicks off a war of national independence in what's now Mali beginning in 1944. The French's heavy-handed response (in real life this resulted in a massacre) turns more and more of their African subjects--and in particular their African soldiers--against the government. Various rebel groups unite under a clique of intellectuals advocating "African socialism" who in real life became the leaders of independent Senegal, Mali, etc. Faced with a prolonged war in the interior of French West Africa when they've been bled white by World War II and fighting against rebels in Southeast Asia as well, the French ultimately cut their losses and concede independence. What results is an authoritarian left-leaning African federation that refuses to cooperate with the Soviet Union--as the title suggests, basically Yugoslavia in Africa. The author appears to be from West Africa himself and has very detailed knowledge of the history, cultures, and personalities involved, so it's a pretty interesting read.
The King In Yellow: The Presidency of H.P. Lovecraft-In real life, author H.P. Lovecraft was a socially-inept recluse and starving artist, but this is one of many things that change as a result of the dying Dowager Empress failing to poison her imprisoned reformist nephew, the legitimate Qing Emperor. He regains the throne and purges Manchu reactionaries, provoking a three-sided Chinese civil war and ultimately the partition of China. Ripples from these changes include a healthier and more prosperous family life for the young Lovecraft, who serves in this timeline's version of World War I, begins publishing his own political magazine, and ultimately runs for office.
Although it would be easy to portray Lovecraft as essentially an American Hitler (after all, they were both starving artists in their younger days and extremely, extremely racist), Lovecraft's real-life views were a lot more complex, especially as he grew older. What happens is interesting--he governs as functionally a New Dealer, with a secret society/government agency whose member use his real-life fictional creations as titles (in deliberate mockery of the Ku Klux Klan) that serves as his muscle. There are a lot of in-jokes pertaining to Lovecraft's real-life fictional writing, although in this timeline that exists only as poetry books he writes to deal with wartime PTSD. The wider geopolitical situation is complex...in addition to a divided China, Mussolini stays a socialist and becomes dictator of Italy after WWI as part of a wider Communist bloc that includes the Soviet Union and a Communist Germany where historical Communist leader Rosa Luxembourg (who tried to overthrow the nascent Weimar Republic and ended up getting shot and thrown into a river) is ultimately succeeded by none other than real-life Nazi Joseph Goebbels. This is less bizarre than it sounds--earlier in his Nazi career, Goebbels was part of a more left-wing faction (which emphasized the "socialist" part of National Socialist) before throwing in with Hitler and his more right-wing clique that was supported by the military and the industrialists.
Oh, and Nikola Tesla is heavily involved in this world's Manhattan Project. :)