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Old 12-18-2012, 04:18 AM   #7
Prince Charon
 
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Join Date: Dec 2012
Default Re: Five Earths, All in a Row

This Earth does not quite have the concept of the generalized personal computer; the nearest equivalents are the mechanical brains of the various unspecialized clanks that many people in the middle classes have as personal servants (human servants are more expensive, these days). Dedicated analytical engines, on the other hand, such as the Automated Ornatix which assists women in Society in choosing the right make-up and accessories, or the Artillerist's Field Tabulator that has made artillery fire more accurate than ever before, in nearly any weather, are very common. There is a primitive internet in use, connecting the great analytical engines of most colleges, academies, and universities via the wires first strung up for the telegraph, then expanded for the facsimile machines (invented as early as 1843 OTL, but didn't catch on for a while) that are found in so many homes, even among the upper end of the lower classes (telegraphy is mainly used for radio, these days, as transmitters and receivers fine enough for fax or vox are still experimental), and now used also by the new-fangled telephones that are all the rage among the better households. Few private homes are equipped to use the internet, and those mostly being the residences of Eminent Scientists. Shockingly, university students have sometimes been caught using the system to transfer pornography (gasp, horrors!), despite this being an offense worthy of expulsion (unless one's parents are rich enough to sweep it under the rug).

Aeronefs (aeroneves?), or powered heavier than air craft (in this case, the semi-powered gliders mentioned above), were developed partly as a side effect of research into rocketry, itself studied out of both military usefulness, and the desire to reach the Moon. The first important divergence for OTL in the history of rocketry on this Earth came in 1846, when inventor and rocket pioneer William Hale was sent a copy of Erasmus Darwin's gas-fueled rocket engine concept. This he found to be a very useful design, as it allowed the tiny Steering Engine (a quite small, dedicated analytical engine, with an inertial compass) of a rocket, such as the Royal Artillery's 'rocket-carried, map-following bomb' project, to throttle the engine, which is not something you can easily do with a solid-fuel rocket, without adding fairly expensive magic to it. Of course, gas by definition hasn't got a great fuel density, but it's rather easier to enchant a gas-fuel rocket for greater speed and range, than it is a solid-fuel rocket for throttling. A demilitarized version of this rocket was used by Thomas Mayfield in 1854, to allow his glider to stay aloft for longer period, by firing short bursts. This method, with some variation, has been used ever since.

The next great step towards placing an astronef (manned space vessel, not counting the boosters or any external tanks) into orbit was in 1854, when Ernst Kremholtz replaced the gas bottle with thermos bottles of liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen. This increase in fuel density allowed made reaching orbit a budgetable option, although it was some time before governments showed an interest. The orbiting of the first unmanned satellite (a large, rubber-and-tinfoil balloon named Marieanne) by the French in 1859, however, insured that the British had to develop an interest, for national pride was at stake! The invention of wireless telegraphy by James Clerk Maxwell in 1863 made it actually somewhat practical, as spacecraft could now send messages in real time on such things interesting things as weather and troop movements. The first permanent space station (a collection of reinforced balloons) was orbited by the Russian Empire starting in 1869, and is said to still be under construction. The fist station to have gravity was orbited by the British on Christmas day, 1869 (though the gravity modules - a pair of inflated, counter-rotating wheels - did not arrive until 1871) The first man to walk on the Moon was Sir Geoffery Thornbury-Wallace (later GCB), in 1875.

The rise to power of the Papal States in Italy came from many factors, but one that stands out was that Pope Alexander IX (who became Pope following the death of Pius IX in 1849) gathered the best Italian generals under his banner- including Giuseppe Garibaldi, who became the first Captain General of the Church in over a century - and managed to take the best advantage of the new methods of logistics allowed by steam power. It also helped that he was rather more popular with the Italian public than the OTL Popes of that era. The Kingdom of the Two Sicilies fell under Papal rule in 1858, and the Pope's control over northern Italy was consolidated by 1862. The Scandinavian Federation formed as a result of a gradual improvement of political and economic relations between Norway, Sweden, Daneland (known as Denmark until 1863), and Iceland starting in the 1830s, with the Articles of Federation being signed and ratified in 1866, and the Netherlands joining in 1873, after the Franco-Prussian War. That war began much as it did in OTL, but went off-course at the Battle of Strasbourg on August 3rd, 1870, when Napoleon III died. The Legitimist pretender Henri V managed to convince the recently-elevated Pope Clement XV, along with the Executive Council of the Scandinavian Federation, to intervene in the war. This lead to Prussia's surrender in 1872, the removal of it from 'Great Power' status, and the restoration, once again, of the Bourbons to the throne of France, under a new constitution. The latter was helped by the fact that Henri was married to Napoleon III's daughter, Marie, of course.

This Earth has far fewer fictional characters than Dieselpunk Earth, and all of the ones that we can be certain are or were real, were born after mid-May, 1823. In Japan, some version of Ruroni Kenshin is playing out. Monsieur Lecoq investigates various crimes in France, and Holmes and Watson are already at 221b Baker Street, London - interestingly, both Holmes and Watson, and many of their associates and cases, are about five years older than they should be in 1878, based on records from Dieselpunk Earth (Dp-Earth's H & W are pretty consistent with the Birlstone Railway's Timeline, at least for ACD's published works). Also, Dp-Earth Watson was wounded in the shoulder, while Stp-Earth Watson was wounded in the leg, at a different battle.

When Clement XV learns of the states of the other Papacies, he's going to claim dominance over the others, on the strength of having the greatest Papal States, and the largest military, as well as being the only one to put a man in space, much less a station. This is unlikely to go over well with them, nor with too many Catholics not from Stp-Earth.

It likely won't be long before there are websites translating the Morse code transmissions of this Earth, or displaying telescopic and satellite photos of it, though YouTube channels are less likely (then again, there should be quite a lot of video from the telescopes).

TL;DR: Steampunk Earth, 1878, with lunar and cislunar space travel, and strange magics.
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Five Earths, All in a Row. Updated 10/18/2017: The timeline entry for May, 2014 has finally been posted!
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