The world of the 'Flying Cloud', our world, and worlds that might have been.


Postby Pastor_Mac » Sat Nov 17, 2018 11:55 pm

Who really are the bad guys (gender neutral) here? If the Great War stopped before The Central Powers we’re totally ruined, we should define what a nationalist truly is. Is Germany still a monarchy? Ditto the Habsburg Empire? For that matter are the Russians had a revolution yet? I’m not certain Europe went republican. So let’s define what the British Union in this story truly is and it’s political goals. When we read “fascist” are we projecting this world’s experience into a scenario that isn’t really correct?

Let’s talk Michaelson again. He’s been missing but will invariably appear at the last minute. Is he truly a friend of The Crown? If he, through Everett, finds the plans to the Device, does he allow those plans to be exclusively in the hands of the Crown? Or, as I suspect, he’s in a fellowship of gentlemen from both sides of the war committed to preventing any power from gaining destructive power over another. The chase for the tubes is a sideshow. The plans are the real key.
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Re: Questions?

Postby Kona » Mon Nov 19, 2018 6:48 pm

Excellent questions, worthy of considerable thought and discussion.

First, I think it’s instructive to view history objectively as an ongoing struggle between opposing ideologies, nationalisms, etc., rather than subjectively as being between Good and Evil. No one thinks they themselves are evil, only seeking justice, self-determination, living space, etc. There’s a good primer on this philosophy at, I think it’s safe to say that nobody is the “bad guys”, just a lot of competing self-interests colliding and creating the tension for a good alternate-history yarn.

As for the current in-story conditions of European governments and political factions, I believe there was considerable discussion of it, as well as Paul’s own rundown, in a previous very long thread, and frankly I’m not personally that concerned about the details. My study of actual events leads me to the conclusion that the Muse of History is maddeningly capricious and bafflingly unpredictable, and in light of our actual current national and world situation, we might well quote Fabian in Twelfth Night; “If this were played upon a stage now, I could condemn it as an improbable fiction.”

Are we “projecting this world’s experience into a scenario that isn’t really correct?” Indubitably, and unavoidably, I’m afraid. We are all fated to read history through the lens of our current knowledge, culture and personal background. Even if we lived through those times, we all sensed them differently, and the older we get, the more we become aware of how unreliable our memory is.

Meanwhile, terms like “fascist” are slippery at best and most often downright disingenuous. Whether used in a title or as an epithet, it rarely matches the defined political philosophy, any more than the common treatment of “socialist”, “communist”, “fundamentalist”, “liberal”, etc. For instance, in a cynical move to make Nazism more palatable and competitive with the communists (the equally deviously-named “Social Democrats”), Hitler’s people renamed their “German Worker’s Party” the “National Socialists”. I have the sense that “Fascism” was not the pejorative that it became with Hitler and Mussolini, and was used more in the sense of “anti-communism”.

So, labels aside, I can easily buy Paul’s premise that a lot of people were unhappy with the outcome of the War, as they were in our timeline but without the experience of the horror of the last two years to inform their reactions and decisions. There certainly could have been widespread support for nationalistic political parties in many countries, seeking to redress their perceived shortcomings of the Treaty.

Michaelson is a mystery, and no mistake. He’s obviously a force to be reckoned with; devious, inscrutable and unpredictable; and his motives are always hidden. However, in his position of command, Everett et al. must comply with his orders, in letter if not in spirit. We know that in the military, the higher up the food chain, the more political one’s career becomes, and Michaelson must balance doing his job against keeping his job. Everett, in the meantime, must balance following his orders to Michaelson’s satisfaction against the larger picture that he sees on the moral canvas. A dicey situation at best.

I agree, the vacuum tubes are a rather weak McGuffin. Any country capable of developing a nuclear bomb, even from a full set of plans, instructions and YouTube videos, would be able to make their own vacuum tubes. What is rarely spelled out in these dramas is the enormous industrial capacity required to refine sufficient quantities of raw Uranium into the critical mass for a nuclear chain reaction. It’s like winding a spring the size of Wyoming down to the size of a football. But hey, it’s just a story, and a very good one at that. Enjoying it muchly!
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