Sunday, September 30, 2012

"Zarig - The Only Home For Life"

(c) 2012


Jordan S. Bassior

Many people are excited by the recent discovery of hundreds of extra-Sharan planets, including numerous small Zarigoid worlds.  From at least a couple of these, astronomers have detected the spectrographic signature of liquid water, an essential for life.

This has led certain optimistic fabulists to imagine that these small Zarigoid worlds could be home to life, even sapient life, and perhaps technological civilizations like our own.  This is, sadly, improbable, and in this article I will explain why.

As is well known, our homeworld Zarig has a mass of about 25 sextillion tons, which ensures that our crust is stable and avoids the crustal fracturing and motion which afflicts smaller zarigoid worlds over long periods of time, and would in theory prevent the formation of the great shield volcanoes (because the tectonic plates would move relative to them) which build the atmosphere which helps warm our world and is constantly abraded by the wind from our daystar Shara.  Why, on such unfortunate planets, the scraping against or even subduction of these plates would cause the very crust to shake:  how would a crystal forest ever get to grow? ...  and we well know the importance of the crystal forests in our ecosystem, only they are able to reach down through the ocean layers to bring up metals from the ocean floor up into the nitrogen-oxygen-carbon dioxide layer which higher life breathes!

Such small planets -- say of around 6-7 sextillion tons, like little lifeless Zag, the next world in from us around Shara -- would have trouble retaining air and water when their suns flared, which happens quite frequently.   A habitable planet, such as Zarig, has a surface atmospheric pressure of 100 or more pounds per square inch, which is what makes it possible to have a layer of air-crystal-plants which screens the surface from deadly sharan radiation, while collecting the useful energy and transmitting down to the surface through the airplants' root systems.

Indeed, crystallife might never evolve.   Computer models demonstrate that on a smaller zarigoid world, most of the vital heavy metals, including the radioactives, would almost completely settle to the center.   Life's own evolution would be slowed by the relative dearth of uranium and thorium, to name the two most common actinides, in the crust.

And would intelligent life evolve at all?  We gained our intelligence by the intellectual complexity required by our triphibious lives:  walking, climbing, spreading our wings to fly, and swimming through the oceans.  On a smaller zarigoid world, would the air even be thick enough for large animals to fly?  Would there be enough water to cover the entire planet?  All the smaller zarigoid planets in our own system either have no oceans or pathetic little oceans that are at most a few miles deep, from which the naked crust protrudes into the barren skies.

Civilization would be difficult.  Even if there were enough metals to support life, would there be enough to allow the construction of tools, houses and vehicles?  Even primitive Zarigians could get metals by felling the appropriate plants or slaying the appropriate beasts and extracting their nodules:  how would the hypothetical primitives obtain metals on a sub-Zarigoid world, where the plants and beasts had no such nodules?  They could hardly mine their ocean floors without first building all sorts of vehicles and machines for such a purpose, and they could not build such vehicles and other machines without first having the metals!

And how would this hypothetic race ever attain space travel?  On Zarig it was easy to float our airports higher and higher in the sky, until eventually we managed to build ones high enough above the atmosphere for our atomic rockets to easily attain orbit?  Would life on a subZarigoid world even have enough radioactives to build atomic rockets?  The weak forces of chemistry are of course inadequate to attain orbital spaceflight.

No, it is clear that the subZarigoid worlds now appearing in our space telescopes are either lifeless, or their life non-sapient, or forever bound to their planetary surfaces.  Let us shed tears of pity from all  of our eyes for such poor lost beings, if they exist; and waggle our tentacles and flash our skins in relief that we were born on the one and only planet in the Universe uniquely crafted by the Creator for the evolution of life, sweet benign Zarig!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Retro Review - The Leeshore (1987) by Robert Reed

"Retro Review
The Leeshore

(c) 1987

Robert Reed"

(c) 2012

Jordan S. Bassior

Backstory:  Sometime, probably in the early 22nd century, starships from Earth established fueling stations in systems relatively close to the Solar System.  One such fueling station was on The Leeshore, a habitable but unpleasant ocean world on which huge mats of aerostatic vegetation form a living layer in the sky which blocks out easy access from orbit, and from which decaying vegetation fall to rot in the sea.  As part of the cycle of life, temporary islands form which last for decades at a time.  On one of these islands, an American ship established a base to which they anchored an orbital elevator.

The Americans did not intend to settle the world, but only to wait awhile -- kept alive by life-extending drugs -- until they could board the follow-on starship which would refuel and re-equip at the automated base, to depart to colonize better worlds further from the Sun.  Most of the involuntary colonists refused to bring children onto such an unpleasant world as The Leeshore, but one woman decided to have children -- a girl named Abitibi and a boy named Jellico -- and settle on The Leeshore.  In punishment for this extra demand upon the supplies, the woman was denied the life-extending drugs used by her fellows.

However, while they were waiting, a horrible war erupted in the Solar System, one which would doom their base and their plans.  And, ironically, it derived from the same substance which made possible the space elevator and the starships.

The orbital elevator was possible because of a miracle material called "stuhr," a superstrong plastic-like substance which must be kept constantly energized by a weak electrical current to retain its special properties.  While so energized, it is far stronger than steel, with tremendous resistance to both kinetic and thermal stress:  it can support megastructures such as space elevators, shield the flux from a fusion reactor, and has considerable resistance even to point-blank nuclear detonations.

A special kind of stuhr, called "i-ply stuhr" also can support neural networks of a similar nature to but even greater density than that of the human brain.  While ordinary artificial intelligences are limited to levels of intellect equivalent to that of the human mind, an artificial intelligence embedded in a matrix of stuhr has a vastly greater upper range of capability -- as far beyond the mind of a man as the mind of a man is beyond that of a worm.

Somewhere in America, around the time that the base was being built on The Leeshore, a group of scientists assembled a mass of i-ply stuhr the size of a large whale, and fed into it all the knowledge then known to the human race.  And the stuhr awoke.  And it was a god.

The scientists who made the sapient stuhr became its first priests.  At its command they built it a bunker, its temple, wherein were placed utterly reliable power sources to keep the new god alive.  At its command its priests made recruits, both voluntary and involuntary, for the god showed it how to "wire" human brains to enforce perfect obedience.  The god gave its servants strange technologies which it devised.  And then the god arose, and reached forth to claim all humanity as its subjects.

North America and Europe fell quickly, for the stuhr god reached through the datanets to seize control of the machines on which depended civilization.  But other parts of the world, forewarned, were able to resist barely in time, and formed an alliance, called the "Asiatic Federation," against the "Alteretics," as the followers of the new god came to be known.  And war raged on the Earth, between the Alteretics and the Asiatic Federation.

This is a terrible war, for the Alteretics regarded free humans as no more than wild animals, and slaughtered them without mercy.  Prisoners were either enslaved and turned into "Conscripts" by the wire, or sometimes simply eaten.  The Alteretics are so vicious that they will persecute the relatives of their enemies, which leads the Asiatic fighters to begin taking noms de guerre to protect their kin.

But the machine god had miscalculated the mettle of Mankind.  They copied the Alteretic technologies, and fought hard for their freedom.  They first stopped the Alteretic advance, then drove them back.  Soon, the Alteretics were barely holding on to their last strongholds.  Though the Earth was devastated and barely habitable, with the survivors living in vast warrens under full life support, the human race was winning the battle against the machine god.

The new god did not want to die.  So, in a last desperate effort, the Alteretics seized the six starships which had been building before the war for the planned interstellar colonization.  The leaders of the Alteretics fled in six different directions.  And on one of the starships -- the Asiatic Federation did not know which -- the Alteretics brought their god.

Meanwhile, on The Reef, the crew of the base waited for the day when a starship would come to rescue them from that unpleasant world.  As word came to them of the wars on Earth, however, they used some of their limited resources to fortify and booby-trap the space elevator, preparing to resist should the dreaded Alteretics arrive.

The Alterics did arrive.  Because of the layer of aerial vegetation, they could not employ precision aerial bombardment, so they attacked with an assault shuttle.  The defenders somehow managed to down the shuttle, but enough of the Alteretic troops survived to overwhelm The Leeshore's defenses and slaughter all the colonists.

Except for Abitibi and Jellico, who were out doing an ecological survey.


Abitibi and Jellico return to The Leeshore to scavenge and search for survivors.  There, they are captured by the crew of the Little Fist, a water-boat commanded by "Mr. Chosen" and landed from the Harmonious Fist, an Asiatic Federation starship which has been pursuing the Alteretic starship for decades.  Harmonious Fist is duelling with the Alteretic starship elsewhere in the system:  the mission of the Little Fist is to hunt down the Alteretic landing party, in part because they may be transporting the machine god.

The Asiatics conscript them into their own forces.  The Asiatics are rude and even slightly brutal to the two teenagers, and do use the wire on them, but only to augment their natural tendencies rather than in the form of full mind control.  Abitibi shows combative tendencies and is assigned for training to their mlitary leader, a fierce man named Moon, who seems to be a borderline sociopath.  Jellico shows great cunning, and is assigned for training to their intelligence officer, a brilliant strategist named Mantis.

The book concerns the stern chase between Little Fist and the Alteretic boat, a chase that involves several battles, both nuclear and hand-to-hand, and the use and abuse of the local ecosystem as ruses and weapons of war.  Eventually Abitibi is captured and conscripted by the Alteretics, and learns some of their secrets; Jellico deduces other secrets and hears the strange story of Cricket, the aide of Mantis:  they both learn the truth about the origins of the war and the nature of the machine god ...


... Jellico finds it suspicious that Mankind was actually able to overcome a Machine God supposedly thousands of times more intelligent than a human being.  He points out that if he had been in the place of the Machine God, he wouldn't have quickly enslaved his creators and then launched a war:  instead, he would have behaved very nicely to Mankind, made himself utterly-useful to them, and subverted them slowly from within. 

And he's right.  The Machine God did not enslave its creators and then try to conquer the human race.  Its creators -- themselves originally a small faction within the Americas -- enslaved the Machine God, forced it to discover and grant them superscientific secrets, and then used those secrets in their own attempt to conquer the human race.  It is precisely because the Machine God did not particularly want to conquer Mankind, and thus did not give the Alteretics the full benefits of its superhuman strategic capabilties, that the Alteretics failed.

Meanwhile Abitibi, as captive of the Alteretics, is able to resist Conscription just enough that the Alteretics do not have the full advantage of her understanding of The Leeshore's environment.  She makes contact with a downloaded fragment of the Machine God which attaches itself to her and partially frees her of her conditioning.  She is able to escape with the fragment in time to avoid the general destruction of the Alteretics when the Little Fist, aided by Jellico's superior knowledge of the ecosystem, finally catches and smashes the fugitives in a final battle.

Jellico successfully pressures the Asiatics (who were originally going to keep them against their will as recruits) to let Abitibi and himself live on the Leeshore.  The two young people remain -- unknown to the Asiatics -- with the last surviving fragment of the Machine God, to face an unknown destiny.


This is a great planetary-adventure story, against a space-operatic background, in a situation in which the future fate of Mankind believably hinges on the actions of a small group of characters.  The characters themselves are interesting and display unexpected depths.  The novel also features repeated inversions, subversions and superversions of genre conventions.

The two protagonists and main viewpoints, Abitibi and Jellico, represent complementary approaches to the solution of problems:  force and guile.  The first inversion occurs here because Abitibi, the girl, is the practicioner of force; Jellico, the boy, is the practicioner of guile.  The Asiatics are quite correct when they say that they did not control their minds with the wire the way that the Alteretics do:  they instead merely used wire-conditioning to draw forth and amplify the natural tendencies of the pair.

The same situation exists aboard the Little Fist where Abitibi's and Jellico's mentors, Moon and Mantis respectively, are experienced-adult versions of Force and Guile.  Those two names are also inversions:  the one with the rather passive name (Moon) is brutal and fierce, the practioner of Force; the one with the obviously-aggressive name (Mantis) is the practicioner of Guile.  This is the more notable because these names are noms de guerre, which means that they chose to be known by these rather-deceptive terms.

The grand-strategic situation is an inversion of the common "yellow-peril" scenario, in which a future East Asian-based Great Power enslaves or threatens to enslave the Earth, and America becomes the last bastion of human liberty.  The Alteretic power arose and was based in the Americas, and  it is the Asiatic Federation around which Mankind rallies to throw back the minions of the Machine.  What's more, the most sympathetic character from the Asiatic Federation is Mantis, who in many respects (including his name!) conforms perfectly to a certain villainous stereotype, but is actually a fairly nice guy to everyone except his enemies, and not exceptionally cruel to them either.

But then the deeper situation is an inversion of both the apparent situation and the expectations that Reed raised in the minds of the readers with the first inversion.  The Machine God, which seems to be the main villain, is in fact only the first victim of its creators, who only pretend to serve it as a means of justifying their tyranny:  at the core of the Alteretics is an abused superintelligent slave.  The Asiatic Federation, which seems to be the defender of human liberty, has as its core a secret elite who are converting it into a genuine authoritarian despotism (this may be because they were always like this, or because of the strains of fighting the Hardware War).  One is left with the impression that the Hardware War was just a terrible and avoidable tragedy:  that acting on its own accord the Machine God might have become the friend and ally of Mankind, and both the Machine and Mankind expanded in peace and prosperity out to the stars.

Or maybe not.  After all, we have only seen the Machine God as victim and refugee.  Who knows its true intentions?


The Leeshore is an intellectual and philosophical mystery of some power and depth, while simultaneously being a great action-adventure and coming-of-age tale -- which makes it the best sort of science-fiction



This is your basic science-fictional supermaterial, in this case a polymer plastic which, when energized, is strong enough to suffer only minor damage from near-point-blank tactical nuclear detonations.  Aside from its obvious use as battle armor (which is what makes close action practical in the storyverse), it also enables the construction of starships and skyhook space elevators.

What makes it interesting is that it must be kept energized or it becomes brittle and easily crumbles, and that sufficiently-complex stuhr can support intellects of a computational density greater than that of the human brain.  This is what makes possible the Machine God, and what makes possible its extraordinary intellect -- and creates its chief vulnerability -- if it loses power, it dies.

This also serves as a limit on AI in Reed's universe.  Non-stuhr based artificial intelligences can't become sapient.  This is important because it creates a huge difference in power between the Machine God and ordinary AI's, which is essential to the orgiinal Alteretic attempt to conquer the Earth.  The association of stuhr-based computers and AI in general with the devastating Hardware War also creates a strong social prejudice against transhumanism in the storyverse.

The Wire

This is a mental conditioning device with the limitation that, unless very carefully applied, a sufficiently-intelligent victim can work around the conditioning.  The Machine God could theoretically apply it well enough to prevent all rebellion on the part of the Conscripts:  it deliberately chooses to leave the control imperfect so as to create opportunities for its own escape from enslavement.  The Asiatics don't even try (and claim they don't want to try) to use it to that extent:  they instead work with the subject's natural tendencies to reduce resistance.  It appears to be extremely useful as an educational aid, especially if the subject actually wants to learn the topic being taught.  Abitibi and Jellico respectively become an elite soldier and a brilliant strategist under wire-based conditiong, and they're just inexperienced kids.

The Leeshore

This is a fascinatingly-depicted world.  A deep planet-covering ocean and a dense atmosphere mean, respectively, that life is dependent upon metals drawn from the ocean floor and can spread into the upper troposphere.  There are basically three realms of life:  the seafloor, the surface, and the atmosphere.  Life extracts metals from the ocean floor, transporting them first to the surface and from there to the atmospheric layer; solar energy is collected in the atmosphere and used to form nutrients using the metals, which are then transported to the surface and then to the seafloor.  Various forms of deitrus-rain (including an upward rain using lifting gases) and predation are employed to achieve this transport.  The total effect is very alien to what we see on Earth's continents (it's more like that of smokers in abyssal depths writ large), and quite believable.

What is especially interesting about this is that we are finding worlds which may be like The Leeshore.  Super-terrestrial planets seem not to be all that uncommon, and basic physics makes it extremely likely that at least some of them have planet-girlding oceans like that of The Leeshore.  Note that in 1987, when Reed wrote this novel, this was all entirely unknown to science.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Retro Reprint: "Flight Through Tomorrow" (1947) by Stanton A. Coblentz

Super warfare has destroyed the old race of man, but elsewhere a new civilization is dawning....


(c) 1947




Nothing was further from my mind, when I discovered the "Release Drug" Relin, than the realization that it would lead me through as strange and ghastly and revealing a series of adventures as any man has ever experienced. I encountered it, in a way, as a mere by-product of my experiments; I am a chemist by profession, and as one of the staff of the Morganstern Foundation have access to some of the best equipped laboratories in America. The startling new invention—I must call it that, though I did not create it deliberately—came to me in the course of my investigations into the obscure depths of the human personality.

It has long been my theory that there is in man a psychic entity which can exist for at least brief periods apart from the body, and have perceptions which are not those of the physical senses. In accordance with these views, I had been developing various drugs, compounded of morphine and adrenalin, whose object was to shock the psychic entity loose for limited periods and so to widen the range and powers of the personality. I shall not go into the details of my researches, nor tell by what accident I succeeded better than I had hoped; the all-important fact—a fact so overwhelming that I shudder and gasp and marvel even as I tell of it—is that I did obtain a minute quantity of a drug which, by putting the body virtually in a state of suspended animation, could release the mind to travel almost at will across time and space.

Yes, across time and space!—for the drag of the physical having been stricken off, I could enter literally into infinity and eternity. But let me tell precisely what happened that night when at precisely 10:08 in the solitude of my apartment room, I swallowed half an ounce of Relin and stretched myself out on the bed, well knowing that I was taking incalculable risks, and that insanity and even death were by no means remote possibilities of the road ahead. But let that be as it may! In my opinion, there is no coward more despicable than he who will not face danger for the sake of knowledge.

My head reeled, and something seemed to buzz inside it as soon as the bitter half ounce of fluid slipped down my throat. I was barely able to reach the bed and throw myself upon it when there came a snapping as of something inside my brain ... then, for a period, blankness ... then a gradual awakening with that feeling of exhilaration one experiences only after the most blissful sleep. I opened my eyes, feeling strong and light of limb and charged with a marvelous vital energy—but, as I peered about me, my lips drew far apart in astonishment, and I am sure that I gaped like one who has seen a ghost.

Where were the familiar walls of my two-by-four room, the bureau, the book-rack, the ancient portrait of Pasteur that hung in its glass frame just above the foot of the bed? Gone! vanished as utterly as though they had never been! I was standing on a wide and windy plain, with the gale beating in my ears, and with rapid sunset-colored clouds scudding across the blood-stained west. Mingled with the wailing of the blast, there was a deep sobbing sound that struck me in successive waves, like the ululations of great multitudes of far-off mourners. And while I was wondering what this might mean and felt a prickling of horror along my spine, the first of the portents swept across the sky. I say "portents," for I do not know by what other term to describe the apparitions; high in the heavens, certainly at an altitude of many miles, the flaming thing swept across my view, comet-shaped and stretching over at least ten degrees of arc, swift as a meteor, brilliantly flesh-red, sputtering sparks like an anvil, and leaving behind it a long ruddy trail that only slowly faded out amid the darkening skies.

It must have been a full minute after its disappearance before the hissing of its flight came to my ears—a hissing so sharp, so nastily insistent that it reached me even above the noise of the wind. And more than another minute had passed before the earth beneath me was wrenched and jarred as if by an earthquake and the most thunderous detonations I had ever heard burst over me in a prolonged series.

Let me emphasize that none of this had the quality of a dream; it was clear-cut, as vivid as anything I had ever experienced; my mind worked with an unusual precision and clarity, and not even a fleeting doubt came to me of the reality of my observations. "This is some sort of bombing attack," I remember reflecting, "some assault of super-monsters of the skies, perfected by a super science." And I did not have to be told the fact; I knew, as by an all-illuminating inner knowledge, that I had voyaged into the future.

Even as this realization came to me, I made another flight — and one that was in space more than in time. It did not surprise me, but I took it as the most natural thing in the world when I seemed to rise and go floating away through the air. It was still sunset-time, but I could see clearly enough as I went drifting at a height of several hundred yards above a vast desolated space near the junction of two rivers. Perhaps, however, "desolated" is not the word I should use; I should say, rather, "shattered, pulverized, obliterated," for a scene of more utter and hopeless ruin I have never seen nor imagined. Over an area of many square miles, there was nothing but heaps and mounds of broken stone, charred and crumbling brick, fire-scarred timbers, and huge contorted masses of rusting steel like the decaying bones of superhuman monsters. From the great height and extent of the piles of debris, and from the occasional sight of the splintered cornice of a roof or of some battered window-frame or door, I knew that this had once been a city, one of the world's greatest; but no other recognizable feature remained amid the gray masses of ruins, and the very streets and avenues had been erased. But here and there a tremendous crater, three hundred feet across and a hundred to a hundred and fifty feet deep, indicated the source of the destruction.

As if to reinforce the dread idea that had taken possession of my brain, one of the comet-like red prodigies went streaki
ng across the sky even as I gazed down at the dead city; and I knew—as clearly as if I had seen the whole spectacle with my own eyes—that the missile had sprung from a source hundreds or thousands of miles away, possibly across the ocean; and that, laden with scores of tons of explosives, it had been hurled with unerring mechanical accuracy upon its mission of annihilation.

Then I seemed to float over vast distances of that sunset-tinted land, and saw great craters in the fields, and villages shot to ribbons, and farms abandoned; and the wild dogs fought for the wild cattle; and thistles grew deep on acres where wheat had been planted, and weeds sprouted thickly in the orchards, and blight and mildew competed for the crops. But though here and there I could see a dugout, with traces of fire and abandoned tools flung about at random, nowhere in all that dismal world did I observe a living man.

After a time I returned to a place near the ruined city by the two rivers; and in the rocky palisades above one of the streams, I made out some small circular holes barely large enough to admit a man. And, borne onward by some impulse of curiosity and despair, I entered one of these holes, and went downward, far downward into the dim recesses. And now for the first time, at a depth of hundreds of yards, I did at last encounter living men. My first thought was that I had gone back to the day of the cave-man, for a cave-like hollow had been scooped out in the solid rock. It was true that the few hundreds of people huddled together there had the dress and looks of moderns; it was true, also, that the gloom was lighted for them by electric bulbs, and that electric radiators kept them warm; yet Dante himself, in painting the ninth circle of his Inferno, could not have imagined a drearier and more despondent group than these that slouched and drooped and muttered in that cavernous recess, seated with their heads fallen low upon their knees, or moodily pacing back and forth like captives who can hope for no escape. "Here at least we will be safe from the sky marauders," I heard one of them muttering. Yet I could not help wondering what the mere safety of the body could mean when all the glories of man's civilization were annihilated.



There came a whirring in my head, and another blank interval; and when I regained my senses I knew that another period of time had passed, possibly months or even years. I stood on the palisade above the river, near the entrance of the caves; and the sun was bright above me; but there was no brightness in the men and women that trailed out of a small circular hole in the ground. Drab as dock-rats, and pasty pale of countenance as hospital inmates, and with bent backs and dirty, tattered clothes and a mouse-like nosing manner, they emerged with the wariness of hunted refugees; and they flung up their hands with low cries to shield them from the brilliance of the sun, to which they were evidently unaccustomed. From the packs on their backs and the bundles in their hands, I knew that they were emerging from their subterranean refuge, to try to begin a new life in the ravaged world above; and my heart went out to them, for I saw that, few as they were — not more than fifty in all—they were the sole survivors of a once-populous region, and would have a bitter fight to wage in the man-made wilderness that had been a world metropolis.

But as they roamed above through the waste of ash and rubble, and as they wandered abroad where the fields had been and saw how every brush and tree had been seared from the earth or poisoned by chemical brews, I knew that their fight was not merely a bitter one — it was hopeless. And I heard them muttering among themselves, "We have not even any tools!", and again, "We have no fuel left for the great machines!" ...  For they had lived in a highly mechanical world, and the technicians who alone understood the workings of that world had all been destroyed, and the sources of power had all been cut off — and power was the food without which they could not long survive.

Unable to endure their haggard, hangdog looks and grim, despondent eyes, I went wandering far away, over the length and breadth of many lands. And nowhere did I see a factory that had not been hammered to dust, nor a village that had not been unroofed or burnt, nor a farm where the workers went humming on their merry, toilsome way. Yet here and there I did observe little knots of survivors. Sometimes they were half-clad groups, lean and ferocious as famished wolves, who roamed the houseless countryside with stones and clubs, hunting the wild birds and hares, or making meager meals from bark and roots. Sometimes three or four men, with the frenzied eyes and hysterical shrieks and shouts of maniacs, would emerge from a brush hut by a river flat. Sometimes little bands of men and women, in a dazed aimless way, would go wandering about a huge jagged hole in the ground, where their homes and their loved ones lay buried. I came upon solitary refugees high up on the scarred mountain slopes, with nothing but a staff to lean upon and a deer-skin to keep them warm. I saw more than one twisted form lying motionless at the foot of a precipice. I witnessed a battle between two half-crazed, ravenous bands, with murder, and cannibalism, and horrors too grisly to report. I observed brave men resolutely trying to till the soil, whose productive powers had been ruined by a poison spray from the sky; and I noted some who, though the fields remained fertile enough, had not the seed to plant; and others who had not the tools with which to plow and reap. And some who, with great labor, managed to produce enough for three or four mouths, had twenty or thirty to feed; and where the three or four might have lived, the twenty or thirty perished.

Then, with a great sadness, I knew that man, having become civilized, cannot make himself into a savage again. He has come to depend upon science for his sustenance, and when he himself has destroyed the means of employing that science, he is as a babe without milk. And it is not necessary to destroy all men in order to exterminate mankind; one need only take from him the prop of his mechanical inventions.



Again there came a blankness, and I passed over a stretch of time, perhaps over years or even decades. And I had wandered far in space, to an island somewhere on a sunny sea; and there once more I heard the sound of voices. And somehow, through some deeper sense, I knew that these were the voices of the only men left anywhere on the whole wide planet. And I looked down on them, and saw that they were but few, no more than a dozen men and women in all, with three or four children among them. But their faces, unlike those which I had seen before, were not haggard and seamed, nor avid like those of hunting beasts, nor distorted by fury or famine. Their brows were broad and noble, and their eyes shone with the sweetness of great thoughts, and their smiles were as unuttered music; and when they glanced at me with their clear, level gaze, I knew that they were such beings as poets had pictured as dwellers in a far tomorrow. And I did not feel sad, though I could not forget that they were the only things in human form that one could find on all earth's shores, and though I knew that they were too few to perpetuate their kind for long. Somehow I felt some vast benevolent spirit in control, that these most perfect specimens of our race should endure when all the wreckers had vanished.

As I watched, I saw the people all turning their eyes to an eastern mountain, whose summit still trailed the golden of the dawn-clouds. And from above the peak a great illuminated sphere, like a chariot of light, miraculously came floating down; and the blaze was such that I could hardly bear to look at it. And exclamations of wonder and joy came from the people's throats; and I too cried out in joy and wonder as the radiant globe descended, and as it alighted on the plain before us, casting a sunlike aura over everything in sight. Then through the sides of the enormous ball—I would not say, through the door, for nothing of the kind was visible—a glorious being emerged, followed by several of his kind. He was shaped like a man, and was no taller than a man, and yet there was that about him which said that he was greater than a man, for light seemed to pour from every cell of his body, and a golden halo was about his head, and his eyes shot forth golden beams so intense and so magnetic that, once having observed them, I could hardly take my gaze away.

With slow steps he advanced, motioning the people to him; and they drew near, and flung themselves before him on the ground, and cried out in adoration. And I too threw myself to earth, in worship of this superhuman creature; and I heard the words he spoke, and with some deeper sense I translated them, though they were not uttered in any language I knew:

"Out of the stars we come, O men! and back to the stars we shall go, that the best of your race may be transplanted there, and survive through means known to us, and again be populous and great. Through the immense evil within the breasts of your kind, you have been purged and all but annihilated; but the good within your race has also been mighty, and can never be expunged; and that good has called through you surviving few to us your guardians, that we may take you to another planet, and replenish you there, and teach you that lore of love and truth and beauty which the blind members of your species have neglected here while they unfitted the earth for human habitation."

So speaking, the radiant one motioned to the people, who arose, and followed him inside the great sphere of light; and when they had all entered, it slowly began to ascend, and slowly dwindled and disappeared against the morning skies. And now, I knew, there was no longer a man left anywhere on earth; yet as I gazed at the deserted shore, the empty beach and the bare mountainside, a sense of supreme satisfaction came over me, as though I knew that in the end, after fire and agony and degradation, all was eternally well.

That sense of supreme satisfaction remained with me when, after still another blank interval, I opened my eyes as from a deep slumber, and stared at the familiar book-rack, the bureau, the mottled paper walls of my own room. The clock on the little table at my side indicated the hour of 10:09—in other words, all that had happened had occupied the space of one minute! Yet I know as surely as I know that I write these words—that the Release Drug had freed my spirit to range over thousands of miles of space, and that I have looked on people and events which no other eye will view for scores, hundreds or even thousands of years to come.


Friday, September 7, 2012

AH - "The League of Nations Triumphant" (2001, 2012) by Jordan S. Bassior

"The League of Nations Triumphant!"

An Alternate History

(c) 2001, 2012


Jordan S. Bassior


This timeline is taken to 1964, and it details a world in which the League of Nations was an effective organization and, as a result, there was no global Second World War. The League of Nations dominates the world of 1964, though it is challenged by the Japanese and by colonized nations yearning for independence.  This version of the history incorporates valuable comments by Joseph Major, Logan Ferree and Johnny 1A.

I. The 1920's -- Global Recovery

In this timeline, Woodrow Wilson accepted better political advice than in OTL in handling both other nations and the US Congress. As a result, both the Versailles Treaty and the Charter of the League of Nations were better composed; Wilson paid greater attention to securing Congressional support for his policy, and in 1920 he succeeded in getting the US Senate to ratify American membership in the League of Nations.  Among his efforts included the formation of a League Council able to authorize actions on a two-thirds supermajority rather than requiring unanimous consent as in OTL.

Wilson died in 1921, worn out by the efforts of the hard shuttle diplomacy and politicking needed to secure passage of the treaty. He was mourned by a grateful nation as the man who had given his life in the service of victory and peace. His vice-president, Thomas Marshall, served out the remainder of Wilson's term, but was unable to win the 1924 Presidential election.

Under first the corrupt Harding and the competent but laissez-faire Coolidge Administrations, American financial interests saw the opportunities for investment in Germany, and lobbied to further reduce the harsher strictures of the Versailles Treaty. This accorded well with Britsh interests, and the British supported the amendment of the treaty terms. The French did not like this, but went along with it, since their security depended in part on Anglo-American support.

Treated well by the West, the Weimar Republic gained the respect of all but the most extreme German factions. Germany, like the rest of the West, enjoyed an economic boom during the decade, and both the extreme right and left were politically marginalized. Even the French fears began to fade as it became obvious that this happy and prosperous Germany was not about to attempt another invasion. The lights, all over Europe, were plainly coming back on.

By the mid-1920's, however, it could be plainly seen  that the Communists were going to be able to hold onto power in Russia. With Germany growing more cooperative, the fears of the free world became fixed upon the Communist menace. American and British diplomats saw Germany as the obvious Eastern bulwark of the League's world order.

During the late 1920's, a series of treaties were signed committing the Western Great Powers (America, Britain, France, Germany, and Italy) to guarantee the collective security of all Europe against a possible Russian attack. Restrictions on the German military were relaxed, and ultimately lifted. Mutual extradition treaties eased multi-national cooperation against agents of the Comintern. Finally, in 1928, the Alliance of Democratic States was formally created, its headquarters in the Hague, to cement the containment of Communism in Europe.

The Panic of 1928, which began in the New York Stock Market, momentarily raised fears that the good times were over. But J. P. Morgan, Jr. successfully engineered large international loans, especially from the Bank of London and the Deutschebank, to prevent any serious financial collapse. The crisis never got beyond a short American recession. By 1930, American economic growth had resumed, fuelled by the free trade common throughout the world.

II. The Early 1930's -- Fall of Communism

During the early 1930's, reports filtering out from the Soviet Union made it apparent that the Soviet dictator, Josef Stalin, was a psychopathic mass murderer on a scale dwarfing Genghis Khan. World opinion was outraged by the revelation of engineered mass famines and deportations which had resulted in the deaths of millions of people in the Ukraine alone.

These revelations, coupled with the growth of an increasingly prosperous middle class in virtually all the democracies, destroyed what remained of the reputation of Soviet Communism, even among democratic socialists. Intellectuals repudiated Communism en masse, and those who did not were marginalized. George Bernard Shaw spoke for a whole disillusioned class when he said: "I have been to the Soviet Union, and I have seen a nightmarish past reborn."

The crucial conceptual step was a speech by Winston Churchill in 1935. "An Iron Curtain must descend across the eastern boundary of Europe," he said, "to starve out Stalin and his foul Bolshevik order. The free world must shun the monster, and cast him out into the darkness." The League, answering his call, imposed a total embargo upon Russia, already suffering grievously from the engineered famine. And, covertly, the Alliance began contacting key elements among both the Red Army leadership, and among the ethnic minorites.

In the winter of 1934-35, with the Russian economy collapsing and famine threatening Moscow itself, Stalin ordered the Red Army to strip all the outer provinces of food and fuel, to sustain the center. Furthermore, he began preparations to purge the Army leadership itself, intending to use this command as a test to determine who was truly loyal.

Pressed by the embargo, Stalin had moved too fast. With the officers in fear for their lives, and the ethnic minorites among the enlisted men aware that Stalin's orders would mean the deaths of many of their relatives, the Red Army mutinied.

It began on a small scale, as enlisted men rose in protest, and officers joining them partially because if they didn't they would be shot on the spot by their own men. Commissars who tried to quell the mutiny were shot; sometimes hung; occasionally torn to bits.

Since any disloyalty meant death, units which even expressed dissent quickly moved to open rebellion. The mutiny began in Leningrad, and spread like wildfire. NKVD attempts to suppress knowledge of the revolt failed miserably, as individual agitators carried the word by train, motorcar, and aeroplane. The Alliance-financed "Voice of Democracy," broadcasting from Poland, made it impossible to keep the secret in Byelorussia or the Ukraine. As border units
joined the revolt, the "Iron Curtain" was lifted to allow copious quantities of Alliance-supplied munitions, food, fuel, and other supplies to flow to the rebel forces.

Russians, though crushed by over a decade of Communism, everywhere rediscovered their courage and turned on the tyrant (In Kiev, a local Party official named Nikita Krushchev attracted wide admiration, and assumed a leading role in the revolt, when he subverted a loyalist column by climbing on the leading armored car, banging on its hatch with his boot until the confused commander opened it to hear what was going on, and then haranguing the troops until they cheered him, joining the rebels whom they had previously been prepared to gun down!)
The "Russian Federation" was declared, and the Federal forces marched on Moscow from all sides.

By the spring of 1935, the forces loyal to Stalin (mostly secret police) were being mopped up, and Stalin cowered in a bunker beneath the Kremlin as the Federal armies battled his last forces in the streets of Moscow. Stalin's fate is uncertain; the legend is that Molotov shot him with his sidearm and then burned the corpse with a petrol bomb improvised from a vodka bottle and a scarf (1). A badly charred corpse was later discovered, but it was so damaged that it was difficult to discern its identity. Fanciful rumors persist that his head is being kept alive in a jar somewhere -- perhaps in Japan.

The disastrous 16 1/2 year episode of Communism was over, and Russia breathed a sigh of relief. A surviving Romanov was found to serve as a figurehead for the Russian Federation. At last, Russia could begin to recover from the disaster that had befallen her over 20 years ago when she first marched off to war.

Fortunately, Communism had not lasted long enough to completely demoralize the society, and by 1940, Russia was definitely on the path to the same prosperity enjoyed by the rest of the democratic world.

The one good thing that came out of the Russian ordeal was the concept of "crimes against humanity." When the archives of the NKVD and the gates of the gulags were opened, the world was horrified to realize the magnitude of the Communist atrocities. The peoples of the League, including many in the new Russian Federation, demanded that the Bolshevik leaders be punished for their actions.

The St. Petersberg Trials, held from 1936 to 1937, saw many of the top Communists called before a special tribunal sanctioned by the World Court. Some were sentenced to long prison terms; others (such as the loathsome Yekov and sadistic Beria) were hung. Many have since complained that others (including some not in Russia at the time, such as Trotsky) also deserved punishment, and that the sentences of many were later commuted to help build support in the
subsequent crisis, but it was a start towards a recognition of the principle that justice is superior to sovereignty.

This, of course, completed the ruin of the reputation of Communism. On the college campuses, this was the "White Decade," in which even legitimate criticism of the Romanovs tended to be ignored amidst the hagiography, and capitalism enjoyed the highest reputation ever (2). "Commie" became a standard imprecation, sometimes used against even non-Communists with whom a speaker disagreed.

With Russia now a member both of the League and the Alliance, the balance had tipped decisively in favor of League global dominion. The Italian conquest of Ethiopia, which had occurred while the League was preoccupied with the liberation and reconstruction of Russia, did not seriously disturb this dominion, especially as the League customarily sided with the colonial powers -- unpopular in America, but a necessary compromise to secure Anglo-Franco-Italian support on more important issues.

III. Late 1930's -- The Gathering Storm
The great fly in the ointment was Japan, which had used the same period of distraction to invade Eastern Siberia, seizing Vladivostok; then marched from Korea to secure Manchuria, under the pretexed of putting down warlord attacks on Japanese and their properties. The League protested these aggressions, but the Japanese insisted that control of these areas was vital to their national security.

In 1937, the League compromised: Japanese "protectorship" of "Manchuko" and Korea would be acknowledged as a League Mandate, if the Japanese withdrew their "Army of Assistance" from Russian territory. Eastern Siberia was returned to the Russian Federation, and only China (and to some extent America) was concerned by the Japanese conquest of Manchuria. The Japanese might have continued to enjoy their territorial gains, if their easy success hadn't rendered them overconfident.

Basically, the Japanese didn't believe that the League could -- or even would -- fight.

They had observed the Russian Crisis with interest, and had noticed that League interference had been limited to the embargo, propaganda, and arms shipments. They were certain that an embargo could not prevent a Japanese conquest of China, because they had adequate coal to move their troop trains, plenty of metals and timber in Manchuria, and could get food by stripping China bare to feed their own population. They knew that Japan did not pose the sort of ideological threat to the democracies that the Soviet Union had, and were skeptical of the ability of any embargo to last very long. America and Russia were hostile to Japan, but American leadership was resented by the French and Italians, and Russia was still weak from her sufferings under Stalin.

The Japanese began pushing China further and further. In 1939, the Marco Polo Bridge Incident, provoked by the Japanese, was used as the excuse to launch a massive invasion of China proper. When League mediation was spurned by Japan, the League imposed a global embargo on the Japanese Empire. The stage was now set for a wider war.

IV. Early 1940's -- The Chinese War

Everything, for Japan, depended upon a rapid victory. American and other Western business interests were deeply opposed to the loss of trade which the embargo entailed; if China's ports could be secured, Japan would effectively control the China trade as well, adding to the financial pressures on the Alliance governments. The key would be a Chinese surrender on terms: as long as the war continued, a lifting of the embargo would be perceived as "defeat" in the eyes of the populations, and hence be too politically unpopular to contemplate, no matter how much corporate money poured into dovish coffers.

Unfortunately for the Japanese, the Chinese did not submit so easily. The Nationalist regime had been receiving considerable aid from the League even before the Japanese attack, owing to the persistence of unregenerate Communist rebels, led by the murderous Mao Tse-Tung. With outright Japanese defiance of the League, this assistance was increased.  Encouraged by League support, the Chinese refused to surrender. Though forced to retreat from the coastal provinces time and time again by better-organized and better-led Japanese forces, they continued the fight from the interior. It became a war of attrition -- and while the Japanese were killing many Chinese for every Japanese soldier who fell, the Chinese could afford the casualties, while the Japanese could not.
Clearly, decisive victory would require the ability to achieve rapid and sudden penetrations, to shatter the Chinese headquarters, and disrupt the supply lines from the rest of the League. It had been demonstrated by the Russian Crisis and was being demonstrated again on the battlefields of China that the only way to do this was with massed air and motorized forces. The Japanese began building more trucks, tanks, and aircraft.

But these vehicles needed oil, not coal, to operate. Now, the limitations of Japanese pretension to autarky were laid bare: their Empire did not contain any oil wells, and the many Western corporate-backed tankers which secretly supplied them -- in defiance of the League embargo -- were inadequate to support the thirsty Japanese spearhead forces.

In 1941, the use of new raiden-go  ("lightning-victory") tactics enabled the Japanese to knock the Chinese back onto the ropes, but most of the new-style forces were now obliged to go over to the defensive, as army oil stockpiles dipped dangerously low. It became mathematically certain that, if the Empire could not find any new oil supplies within a year, the Japanese would have no
choice but to withdraw from China by 1943 at the latest.

This realization led the Japanese to a desperate act. The oil they needed was available in Dutch Indonesia, but (as the embargo tightened) the Dutch were now effectively closing the tap on those reserves.

The Japanese decided that a swift, decisive naval strike on Indonesia could seize the oil wells, and secure the supplies they needed to win the war with China.

The Netherlands were weak: their navy had no chance against the Japanese (even given the oil shortage). But Holland was not only a League member, but the seat of the Alliance. And America, the most powerful member of the League, had bases in the Philippines, directly athwart the Japanese supply lines.

Would the League intervene? Would America?

The Japanese thought not. The "Alliance of Democratic Nations" had never actually fought a war. America, in particular, was known for her pacifism. The decision was made to attack Indonesia without first knocking out the powerful American Pacific Fleet.

It was a decision the Japanese would regret.

V. Early to Mid 1940's -- The Pacific War

The Japanese invasion of Indonesia commenced on June 6th, 1942. Consternation reigned in the League Council chamber. The League had already embargoed Japan, and supported China. What else was there to do? But, no matter how many weapons they gave the Dutch, there was no way that the tiny Netherlands could hope to defeat Japan, given their small population and distance from the theater of conflict.

It was then that the Russian Ambassador -- that same Nikita Krushchev who had performed so bravely in the streets of Kiev, changed history. Removing his shoe, he pounded it on the table, rivetting the attention of all the representatives.

"What are we afraid of?" he snorted contemptuously. "We are the whole world: Japan is but a few islands. Japan, we will bury you!!!"

The cheers resounded deafeningly.

On July 18th, the League declared its sanction for "a war to preserve the peace in the Pacific." American, British, Dutch, French, and Russian fleets launched a coordinated series of attacks against the Japanese naval and transport forces. In a daring raid, American carrier-based aircraft caught the main fleet of Admiral Nagumo in port at Okinawa, sinking many battleships before they could fire a shot.

Japanese Admiral Isoruko Yamamoto called this a "day of infamy," but it was clear that the Japanese war plan had gone very wrong. Though the IJN fought well in some night actions, the Alliance forces defeated them in battle after battle, gaining mastery in, above, and under the Western Pacific waters. The IJN was hamstrung at every point by its lack of oil reserves.

In December 1942, Operation Torch -- the Allied amphibious landings in Southern China -- began. Though defects in doctrine were revealed, the Allies were everywhere able to secure their beachheads and march inland, linking-up with Chinese forces. The Japanese motorized forces, thirsty for oil, could only sluggishly react to these moves, and in most cases the Japanese forces were fixed and defeated in detail.

In the spring of 1943, Russian forces drove down into Manchuria, severing the land supply routes from Korea to China. Meanwhile, the Allies advanced up the Chinese coasts, using submarines and light craft to raid as far as Japanese itself. Heavy bombers, operating from Chinese and Manchurian bases, attacked targets in Korea and Kyushu. By August 1943, China and Korea were both liberated, and the way was now clear for the final Japan against Japan herself.

Amazingly, Japan did not sue for peace. Faced with the hostility of the whole world, any other nation would have done so, but the Japanese were lost in a dream-world of propaganda and Shinto-inspired fanaticism. Japanese forces, even when surrounded, fought to the last man. And the Japanese people placed their faith that bushido spirit and the ancient gods of their homeland would somehow save them from an enemy whom they believed utterly merciless.

In the spring of 1944, the final campaigns of the war began. A pan-Allied force comprising largely of American, Australian, British, Canadian, Dutch, and French elements invaded Kyushu, while a Russian force staged a diversionary invasion of Hokkaido. The fighting was extremely fierce; suicide planes and boats attacked the Allied fleets, while civilian militia and guerilla forces
launched desperate attacks on the well-armed Allied troops and tanks.

But the Japanese resistance was hopeless -- all it did was to further anger the Allies, leading to a relaxation of all the rules of war. The new giant Boeing and Tupolev strategic bombers launched mass incendiary bombardments of Japanese cities, triggering terrible firestorms, killing tens of thousands of civilians. More Allied forces mobilized, and by the summer of 1944 Kyushu was firmly in Allied hands, as was most of Hokkaido.

Honshu, the main Japanese homeland, was now endangered from two directions. If the Japanese resisted on Honshu as they had on the lesser islands, the carnage among Japanese civilians would truly be terrible.
At this point, a coup toppled the Japanese junta. The Emperor himself took the unprecedented stop of appealing personally to his people on the radio, declaring that he desired that his Ministers sue for peace. They did so.

The League gladly consented. The civilian death toll on Kyushu had horrified public opinion; it was already being whispered that to do what would be needed to take Honshu would "make us as bad as the Commies." An Armistice was declared on August 14th, 1944.

The Pacific War was over, though the treaty negotiations would stretch into 1945, and some of the subordinate clauses would take a decade to hammer out. The Japanese turned certain of the generals most obviously responsible for war crimes over to the League Tribunal, though many simply committed suicide. And the world returned to peace.

The war had proven beyond any doubt that the League was willing to fight, if need be, to keep the peace. The power of the democracies had been demonstrated, and without wrecking the world on the scale of the Great War. The peoples of the Earth could now proceed, as Winston Churchill exultantly declared, "into the bright sunny uplands of a new dawning."

VI. Late 1940's to the Present - The League Mandate

These new "uplands," however, were tainted by colonialism.

The Great War, the Russian Crisis, and the Pacific War had all bred a distaste for ruthless measures on the part of the democracies. It had not escaped the attention of the more progressive Western thinkers that what the Europeans had done to each other on the Western Front; what the Communists had done to the Russians; and what the Japanese had done to the East Asians; were simply special cases of a more general evil which the democracies of the League, even now, were not entirely innocent.

The Britrish ruled India and much of Africa essentially through the threat of force. The French rule over Indochina and North Africa was nakedly brutal. Even America, anti-colonialist and proudly pointing to her recent grant of independence to the Philippines, oppressed her own Negro population.

Agitation was growing for reform. India asked for independence, pointing to Britain's own democratic traditions and the loyal service of Indians in the Pacific War. Rebel movements grew against the French in Indochina and Algeria. In America, liberal lawyers pointed to elements in both the League's resolutions and the American Constitution to support their demands for Negro
civil rights.

Right after the Great War, the League had dealt with the question of captured Turkish territories by issuing "mandates" to govern their disposal. Now, a movement grew to govern the colonial issue in much the same fashion.

America, which possessed no colonies, was of course in the forefront of this movement, both out of idealism and in order to take the moral high ground from her diplomatic competitors. Of the colonial powers, Britain was divided: the Tories (led by Churchill and Halifax) vehemently opposing such mandates, and the Liberals (and tiny Labour Party) (3) strongly supporting them. The French didn't want to disgorge their colonies: they had a powerful nationalist wing
which outright insisted on maintaining the French mission civilatrice. Russia insisted that with the coming of the Federation, the "nationalities" were no longer "colonies," but rather, inherent parts of "Greater Russia."

The debate over this issue continues to this very day (1964), though the liberals seem to be slowly but surely winning. Britain led the way, by embarking upon a phased program of decolonialization, starting with the granting of Dominion status to India in 1948, and full independence in 1956 (4). The former colonies, such as India, Egypt, and Korea, as they attained
League Membership status, have gradually shifted the weight of the Council to support the Decolonization Mandates.

VII. Early 1950's -- A New Peril Emerges

In 1936, German scientists had split the uranium atom (5). In 1942, the first experimental uranium fission reactor was turned on in an East Prussian research facility; the resultant meltdown killed half the research team, and rendered the facility unusable. Undaunted, the Germans persevered, and in 1944 – too late to affect the Pacific War -- they succeeded in creating a stable, self-sustatining uranium fission reaction.

Atomic power offers great prospects for Mankind: a new source of energy, requiring very little fuel and producing very little pollution. The most daring thinkers even hope that it can be harnessed to rocketry, someday enabling us to fly into orbit!

However, from the start, it was realized that the Einsteinian equation also implies the possibility of tremendously destructive weapons. An atomic explosion could concentrate the force of a whole air force's high-explosive payload into a single package, producing a bomb theoretically capable of destroying a whole city in a single detonation.

The League had no interest in developing such weapons. Their members already dominated the world, and a war between the democracies was deemed unthinkable. Nobody wanted to see a replay of the Great War, let alone one employing such frightful engines of destruction.

Thus, it was an unpleasant surprise to the world when, on May 15th, 1953, the Japanese announced to the world that they had succeeded in detonating a 20-kiloton atomic explosive device, in northern Hokkaido. Stunned populations watched the films. Several League scientists were taken on a (carefully supervised) tour of the test site, and verified that the detonation had indeed taken place.

What was worse, the Japanese admitted that this had been but one of three identical weapons they had constructed. Japanese science had stolen a march upon the world, they stated with smiles, and henceforth Japan would expect greater respect from the League Council, or there would be "fearful consequences."

On May 29th, however, the Japanese ambassador to Germany found himself invited, along with some other prominent Japanese nationals, to a bunker in the wilds east of Koningsberg. There, they donned tinted glasses, and were given the privilege of witnessing the detonation of the first German atomic bomb, a 40-kiloton device, and a more portable one at that. They were then informed that the plans to build such weapons were, even now, being revealed to the other Great Powers of the League, and that Germany, in cooperation with the Alliance, could easily outproduce the Japanese in both such devices and the aircraft needed to deliver them.  There were some suicides in Tokyo, a wholly unjustified persecution of the Ainu, and the brief Japanese atomic monopoly was over.


(1) - Which is why this weapon became known as a "Molotov Cocktail."

(2) - This was true even in popular culture, where the first full-length animated movie, Disney's Anastasia (1939) represented Lenin as a Satanist vampire.

(3) - Labour had once looked as if it would replace the Liberals as the major British party of the Left, but a quarter-century of prosperity coupled with the disgrace of Communism sapped its support.

(4) - The independence of India is widely considered proof of the superiority of the British decolonialization program, as it was accomplished virtually without loss of life despite intense religious hostilities, thanks to the British retaining operational control over Indian army and police forces well into the 1950's.

(5) - German scientific dominance has been profound through the century, and Germany has also led in many other cultural areas. One undoubted reason for this is her large and highly talented Jewish minority, which amounted by 1964 to some one and a half millions. They included some of the world's greatest physicists, chemists, psychologists, writers, and artists.