Welcome Lords, Ladies and Gentlemen.
Welcome Lords, Ladies and Gentlefolk.
This blog will be devoted to my literary and cosplay interests and stories set in my own alternative historical steampunk background. I hope people enjoy the stories, as much as I enjoy devising and writing them and that it stimulates their own artistic interests, entertains them or if nothing else fires their own imaginations.
A special note to new readers of this blog, the entries "Nation States" are gazetteers of the nations as they exist in the An Age of Steam, Steel and Iron background, each with a few remarks/observations about each nation as they exist within. Any post headed by the title containing the words "Story Snippet" or "Fragments" is a stand alone, snapshot of the background, they will be developed into fuller stories in future, but at present they serve to give the viewer/reader a measure of what this world is like, what is going on in it and who some of the players are. Full stories, will be headed by their title and a roman number, as they will generally be in several parts.
Comments, suggestions or remarks by readers are welcomed.
I would like to thank the following people:
Yaya Han, for getting me seriously interested in cosplay at a time when things were looking very glum for me back in 2006 with several extended stays in hospital due to illness, and motivating me to get actively involved.
Ashley Du aka UndeadDu, for her unfailing friendship and cheerful support since we first met in 2014 at the Hamilton Comic Con, and for being my Cosplay mentor and advisor.
Sara Marly, for her interest in and support for my writings, since we first met in 2016 at the Hamilton Comic Con and incidently helping me make up my mind to finally do this.
Stephen Thomson, my friend, for his advise and assistance with creating and setting up this blog.
Daniel Cote, my friend and co-worker for his advise and friendship over the years.
The People of the The Aegy's Gathering (particularly Jonathan Cresswell-Jones, Scott Washburn and Jenny Dolfen, all of whom I have kept in contact with over the years), who were brought together in friendship by a certain randomness of chance and a common interest in the Honor Harrington books and stayed together despite distance and the strains of life.
The People of the Wesworld Alternative History website, who gave me the opportunity to sharpen my writing and story telling skills while directing the affairs of Lithuania and briefly France during their 1930s timelines.
My parents Mary Ellen and Logan, my siblings Adam and Danika and various friends both online and at work and play for putting up with me, encouraging and supporting me both in the very good times and the very bad times.
I remain as always yours very sincerely, your obedient servant, Matthew Baird aka Sir Leopold Stanley Worthing-Topper
Thursday, October 6, 2016
The Nation States in An Age of Steam, Steel and Iron: Part Two
Japan, ruled by the Emperor Meiji, is rapidly becoming the premier power in Asia both economically and militarily, although not politically much to Japanese chagrin. Composed of the fabled islands of Nippon: Kyushu, Shikoku, Honshu and Hokkaido, and it's tributary islands: the Kurile, Ryukyu and Bonin islands. The Empire also includes the territories of the islands of Formosa, the Pescadores and Sakhalin as well as Korea, Manchuria and the mysterious and ancient islands of Lemuria and Mu. This situation is a development definitely not welcomed by Great Britain, France, Russia, Germany, the USA, the ISA or Imperial China, all nations with significant holdings or stakes in Asia. Japan, is for the most part content with the situation as it stands for the present but carefully eyes it's neighbours for further opportunities, particularly China.
China, ruled by the Manchu Emperors, once the greatest of all empires of continental Asia has been slowly faltering towards oblivion and dismemberment for the last four centuries. Continued and largely unsuccessful military conflicts with the Great Powers of Europe has cost the Chinese much in political and economic concessions, prestige (both at home and abroad) and equally lost territory: Great Britain has stolen Kowloon/Hong Kong; France, Tonkin, Annam, Cochinchina and Cambodia; Russia, the distant tributary provinces of the Amur; while that upstart, Japan, has seized Formosa, Korea and Manchuria (the later the homeland of the Jurchen, the Manchu!). These difficulties have forced the enactment of long considered but long delayed political, economic and military reforms, which are beginning to take positive effect so that China's future prospects seem brighter then in the past.
Mongolia, or properly the semi-independent province of Outer Mongolia (the other part of Mongolia, Inner Mongolia is a province of Imperial China), is left much to it's own devices after the fall of the Golden Horde and it's successors, the tribal horse lords and khans of the Mongol tribes have reverted to the pastoral and steppes conflicts of their ancestors. The Great Khanate is unfilled and no one has the prestige or strength to take it and reunite the Great Hordes of the ancient past. For the present Mongolia is the next best thing to a geographical expression, wedged between the lands of Imperial China to the south, Imperial Russia to the north and Imperial Japan in the east. For all three nations Mongolia is a useful buffer state, if a troublesome and often lawless seeming one, all three quietly recruit the hardy Mongol horsemen skilled with both traditional bows and modern breech loading carbines as mounted mercenaries to protect caravan, railway and postal routes through their more distant districts.
Siam, if Japan is the raising first power of Asia, then the ancient kingdom of Siam has a fair claim to be it's second. Ruled by King Chulalongkorn the Great, has seen the Thai people raised to perhaps their zenith in terms of internal unity, industrial and administrative modernization, economic prosperity and military strength. Following Burma's gradual annexation by Great Britain in the Burma Wars, Siam managed to wrestle away the Burmese districts on the eastern bank of the Salween river, along it's entire length, securing Siam's long western border against further British encroachment. Against the French, the Siamese have been less successful, watching with alarm as France gobbled up their eastern neighbours Tonkin, Annam, Cochinchina and Cambodia through wars and diplomatic manovers. Only Laos remains independent, after Siam twice threatened to go to war with France, and the French were forced to back down by events elsewhere in the world.
Laos, wedged between Siam and France's Indochina possession, Laos is not in a comfortable position. The French press continuously for Laos to accept a protectorate, that France will be the protector of Laos interests and territorial soveriegnty in return for certain considerations both economic and political. Siam meanwhile, quietly fortifies it's borders, and readies it's land armies and air squadrons for the day everyone knows may be soon be coming, a showdown with France, with Laos caught in between.
Tonga, An island nation in the Pacific, ruled by King George Tupou I, quietly prosperous and zealous about guarding it's sovereignty, the kingdom comprises an archipelago of some 169 islands scattered across a considerable area of the South Pacific Ocean. The Tongans maintain friendly diplomatic relations with many nations, although they are careful to avoid an entanglements that would compromise their own sovereignty, and the islands are a favoured vacation spot for the wealthy of many European countries.
Hawaii, An island nation in the Pacific, ruled by King Kalākaua, like it's distant neighbor Tonga, quietly prosperous and just as fervently zealous about remaining an independent nation free of foreign occupation. The kingdom is composed of the islands of Hawaii proper and the distant tributary islands of Midway Atoll, Johnston Atoll, Kingman Reef, Wake Atoll and Palmyra. Hawaii is currently being courted by many nations, particularly the British, Japanese, Russians and Germans for basing rights for their military and mercantile fleets, so far the Hawaiians have viewed their overtures with some skepticism. The Hawaiians much to anger of many foreign merchants have also refused to grant sweeping economic concessions to any outside powers or their representatives amid the growing plantation owner class.
Brunei, a small petroleum rich nation in the East Indies, ruled by Sultan Hashim Jalilul Alam Aqamaddin, Brunei while obtaining great wealth from it's petroleum resources is under the shadow of Great Britain, a situation the Sultan has vigorously but not altogether successfully been able to avoid, given the borders he shares with British Sarawak, Austrian-Hungarian North Borneo and German Borneo. While the Austrians maintain generally friendly relations and fair trade policies, as do the Germans, the British are aggressively pushing a policy of complete dominance in all Brunei trade and internal affairs. So far, the German and Austrian governments have lent quiet support to fore stall these developments, but this covert aid may eventually not be enough to stop British plans for Brunei.
Nepal, A mountainous Hindu kingdom between India and Tibet, ruled by the King Prithvi Bir Bikram Shah, famous for it's Gurkha regiments, Nepal has so far avoided being swallowed up by either the Tibetians, Chinese, Indian states, or for that matter the British Empire.
Bhutan, a mountainous kingdom locked within the Himalayas, ruled by King Sangye Dorji, friendly to Great Britain and Tibet. like Nepal it's neighbor, it has stubbornly maintained it's own sovereignty for many generations and will likely remain so for many yet to come.
Tibet, an ancient theocracy, ruled by the Dalai Lamas, that has fiercely guarded it's sovereignty for centuries against both Mongol, Indian, and Chinese attempts to become it's masters. More recently Great Britain has tried to encroach upon it's territories, without much success and at bitter cost it has to be said. Safe behind it's mountain walls, Tibet is not either a land easy to know or get to as many have learned to their cost, although it is rumored to be a land of fabulous wealth, ancient culture and mystic knowledge.
Samoa, The island kingdom of Samoa, is still dealing with the aftermath of the ongoing civil war which started in 1886 because of conflicts between the crown and several of the competiting paramount chieftains for control of all sixteen of the islands or atolls that make up the Samoan Archipeligo. Several major powers had previously interested themselves in supporting one faction or another, in the hopes of having a say in the eventual outcome and possible annexation or at least territorial division of the islands. Those powers being Great Britain, France, Germany, Japan and Hawai'i. The King Susuga Malietoa Laupepa's fraction is currently in the acendent position within the islands, due to the vigorous support of the Japanese and Hawaiian monarchies. For the moment this has caused Germany, France and Great Britain, to reconsider their current support of the rival factions within the kingdom, and for the present they have adopted a wait and see attitude. Samoa's strategically important position in the geographical center of the Pacific Ocean, however means this ambivalent and indecisive attitude will not likely persist for long. The Japanese and Hawaiians in conjunction with the Royal Samoan government are taking steps to shore up Samoan Crown's political, economic and military position to bring the civil war to a successful conclusion, in the King's favour.