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Old 04-18-2015, 12:52 PM   #1011
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Not an Alternative world, but a reason to go out and research. While reading The Arabian Nights: A Companion I found out two things that would make good adventure hooks.

First, the French translation of the Arabian Nights, which was the first into any european language, was a translation of a manuscript in four volumes, one of which is missing! Just think of the crosstime adventures looking for that missing volume or the older text from which it was copyed. And the Arabian Nights is hardly the only such text to look for.

Second, the Arabian Nights wasn't originally written either in Classical or Modern Arabic. It's from Middle Arabic. There is no diffinitive dictionary of Middle Arabic! Compiling such a dictionary could lead the PCs through many alternative Arabias. some wilder than any in Scheherazade told of.
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Old 04-18-2015, 01:24 PM   #1012
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... the Arabian Nights is hardly the only such text to look for.
Any crosstime travel throws these things up. The first trip to ancient Rome the characters in my Infinite Cabal campaign took threw up so much literature that was extant in 258CE but lost by 1720 that they didn't attempt to list it, but just weighed it.
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Old 04-19-2015, 01:33 PM   #1013
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Try this idea, an English minister sails with the East Indian Company in 1670, in most worlds his mother was killed by an emotionally distrubed Royalist as a small child. In this world he's a gifted linguist who writes a dictionary of Sanskrit by 1693. One of his proteges starts a translation project and translates the Ocean of Stories several years before Galland translates the Arabian Nights. Galland drops translating the Arabian Nights to translate the Indian work.

The Arabic stories never make an impression in the West. India becomes the place were Eastern fantasies are set. Djinni are totally obscure in the West, but Indian folklore is well known and commonplace in Childrens books. When Edward Said comes around, all he can complain about is Weatern ignorence of and inattention to the Arabs. No one cares about his books. T.E. Lawrence is obscure as well. The Near East means nothing to the West. Oil was bought and sold, but that's it.
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Old 04-19-2015, 03:58 PM   #1014
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Yeah, in terms of missing books, I would imagine somebody would pay good money for a copy of Confucius' On Music. Although actually I think that would have been among the first things people went looking for, I could be wrong, or they could have been unlucky. Or it could lead to the question "why does a book ostensibly about music get so quickly and thoroughly lost in every known timeline?"

So in a timeline where the near east isn't exoticized by Europe, doesn't that actually mean it's more commonplace? Proximity and oil and the Suez canal make it impossible to ignore, unlike India, so instead the idea that "The Turks and Arabs, they're just like us" arises?
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Old 04-19-2015, 07:12 PM   #1015
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Try this idea, an English minister sails with the East Indian Company in 1670, in most worlds his mother was killed by an emotionally distrubed Royalist as a small child. In this world he's a gifted linguist who writes a dictionary of Sanskrit by 1693. One of his proteges starts a translation project and translates the Ocean of Stories several years before Galland translates the Arabian Nights. Galland drops translating the Arabian Nights to translate the Indian work.

The Arabic stories never make an impression in the West. India becomes the place were Eastern fantasies are set. Djinni are totally obscure in the West, but Indian folklore is well known and commonplace in Childrens books. When Edward Said comes around, all he can complain about is Weatern ignorence and inattention to the Arabs. No one cares about his books. T.E. Lawrence is obscure as well. The Near East means nothing to the West. Oil was bought and sold, but that's it.
Er wouldn't the Near East still hold significance due to both oil and it being the area and where the great Abrahamic religions came from?
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Old 04-20-2015, 11:00 AM   #1016
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Er wouldn't the Near East still hold significance due to both oil and it being the area and where the great Abrahamic religions came from?
To some degree, but Orientalism which is an idea used by Edward Said to demonise that West is based on the long term cultural influence of the Arabian Nights. Said and his followers pretty much work to outlaw the imagination. Edward Said was vital to the continuing influence of Cultural Studies, in many ways Said grabbed a free ride on the glamour and prestige of Scheherazade's tales. However, unlike Shahriyar, Said makes sure to kill the woman quickly and brutally.

Basically, since Said wraped his whinny book in the wonder of the Arabian Nights all sorts of people, even me, read all or part of his tract. If Said had no pop culture connections to the Near East, except a few Victorian Novels set durring the Crusades, no one would have read his book. Heck without the Painting on the cover of the book Said wouldn't have sold copy one. Culture Studies would have faded away like the 1960's occult boom, sure some cranks would still embrace it, but some folks use too much patchouli.

A little Patchouli is nice, but no amount replaces bathing.
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Old 04-20-2015, 03:52 PM   #1017
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I suspect you'd simply get a different book, written by someone "more Indian"
(just for fun, I'd pick a very alternate Farrokh Bulsara, even if he's about ten years younger
than Said).
Said wouldn't have much reason to write the book and I'm not sure I see the reason that
he instead would write one complaining about the lack of attention.

On the other hand, the issues don't go away just because the focus lies elsewhere.
(I also can't help noticing that the painting you linked to portrays something
more stereotyped as Indian than Middle Eastern.)

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Old 04-21-2015, 10:31 AM   #1018
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I suspect you'd simply get a different book, written by someone "more Indian"
(just for fun, I'd pick a very alternate Farrokh Bulsara, even if he's about ten years younger
than Said).
Said wouldn't have much reason to write the book and I'm not sure I see the reason that
he instead would write one complaining about the lack of attention.

On the other hand, the issues don't go away just because the focus lies elsewhere.
(I also can't help noticing that the painting you linked to portrays something
more stereotyped as Indian than Middle Eastern.)
You'd turn Freddie Mercury into Edward Said. Wow you're mean!

As for the painting. Those who can read Arabic (unlike the painter) can read the writing on the wall behind the audience. The painter was interested in showing Europeans and Americans the human reality of Near Eastern peoples. Edward Said never had any use for anyone else's human reality.
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Old 04-22-2015, 08:18 AM   #1019
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Try this, Andronikos III was a singularly destructive and self-destructive Byzantine Emperor. Have him die as a child, a illness or and accident, whatever, you'd get several more years of his more stable grandfather and probably a few years of his father as well. Byzantium would still be doomed, but the collapse could be delayed for a generation or two.

If the mobile-type printing got to Byzantium before the fall of Constantinople, then a larger potion of Classical Greek, Byzantine Greek, and Latin texts might survive and be transmited to the West and the modern world. You can go many places from there.

In fact, for a dangerous adventure in a glamourous local, manipulating who gets the Byzantine throne is hard to beat.

If you want a chance for Byzantium to continue into the present, find a way to eliminate or divert Enrico Dandolo who hi-jacked the Fourth Crusade and gutted the Byzantine state.
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Old 04-23-2015, 04:40 PM   #1020
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If you want a chance for Byzantium to continue into the present, find a way to eliminate or divert Enrico Dandolo who hi-jacked the Fourth Crusade and gutted the Byzantine state.
Well, he was both blind and around ninety years old at the time, so it's not like it would be implausible for him to die before that point.

Let's see. The Fourth Crusade started in 1202, instigated by Pope Innocent III. At the time, Dandolo was the 42nd Doge of Venice, having taken office in 1192. Suppose he becomes ill during one of the intervening winters (anyone know where we can find records of how severe the winters, or weather in general, were during specific years in 1190s Venice?), and dies. In OTL, he was succeeded by Pietro Ziani, but that was after Ziani participated in the Fourth Crusade, and so he might not win an earlier election.

Meanwhile, the knights of the Fourth Crusade would probably still end up stranded in Venice, unable to pay for the ships they commissioned. A different Doge might not be so eager to 'take the cross', nor so interested in Zadar. Depending on who becomes Doge, the Fourth Crusade might well be stillborn, or be dependent on another patron, with another direction in mind (perhaps even the one the Crusade was intended for in the first place).
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