Sunday, April 30, 2017

The Future of the Afrikanerverse

One upon a time, a young man (I'm assuming) on the Web's premiere alternate-history discussion forum whose handle was Reddie posted a challenge--write a scenario in which there's a cold war between the United States and "the apartheid juggernaut." Instead of S.M. Stirling's Draka, the Africa-centered white-supremacist regime would be of Afrikaner stock and instead of a Nietzsche-wannabe master-race ideology, their ideology would be Afrikaner Calvinism.

Well, I took that challenge. Instead of the Domination of the Draka facing off against the Alliance for Democracy, I created a world in which the traditionalist-reactionary Afrikaner Confederation and a motley crew of allies like the Sikh Empire in India, Tibet, and Thailand faced off against a League of Democracies encompassing the rest of the world. I wrote multiple versions of the timeline as I went along (here is the current version) and even sold some short fiction set in that world. My first story, "Coil Gun," I sold to Digital Fiction Publishing in 2011 for $0.05 a word, my first "pro" sale. The story appeared in their anthology Pressure Suite and in fact inspired the cover art. DFP eventually bought the reprint rights for another story set in that world, "Picking Up Plans in Palma." That one appeared in their collection Cosmic Hooey as well as the stand-alone.

(Both stories also feature in my independently-published short story collection Flashing Steel, Flashing Fire.)

I've been working on a lot of projects since then, including a military science fiction novella set in Lindsay Buroker's Fallen Empire universe, but my brain is an idea generating machine. I've pondered many possible ideas for stories to tell in this world in the future. Here are some of them:

*The "Armageddon Trilogy." The novelette (it's not long enough to be a novella) "Palma" is at its heart a family saga. Journalist Katje de Lange emigrates to the United States with the reluctant blessing of her father David, against the strong opposition of her Theonomic zealot brother Thomas, as a result of the Confederation growing more authoritarian and more hostile toward women having careers. In America, where she's actually rather conservative despite being a flaming liberal by Afrikaner standards, she ends up romantically involved with Irish Catholic intelligence analyst Connor Kelly. Kelly ends up being sent into the Confederation in a harebrained scheme to retrieve some vital data, which is the main plot of "Palma." The proposed trilogy of novels picks up a few years later as World War III looms and follows the extended Kelly-de Lange family through it.

(This is a long-shot project considering how the acceptance for publication of my teen horror novel The Thing in the Woods means my next finished novel will likely be its sequel and how, owing to Ms. Buroker's huge fan-base, writing Kindle Worlds stories for her will likely make me lots of short-term cash. However, it never hurts to have many irons in the fire.)

When combined with some other ideas for stories featuring various de Lange ancestors as the Confederation is built and Kelly's own forebears in different versions of the American Revolution, the Mexican War, and the Civil War, this could be something like James Michener's generations-long stories. Think Michener's Covenant (South Africa) or Poland (guess) or James Clavell's Tai-Pan and Noble House, which both center around wealthy European-descended trading families in the Far East. Considering how the Draka series is a family saga of the von Shrakenbergs (and a spinoff branch fathered by one raping an enslaved Frenchwoman, who gives birth to twins after escaping to America), that's appropriate.

*Screenplays for "Coil Gun" and "Palma." I've actually written 85 pages or so for a "Coil Gun" spec script. This isn't the 1980s anymore, so villainous South Africans aren't in, plus it offends the zeitgeist in other ways like depicting a nuclear war as survivable with sufficient anti-missile weapons and good civil defense. I'd pondered pitching it as an animated film to reduce production costs. "Palma" might be easier to handle, as it's basically a run-and-gun you could film in Florida or somewhere else similarly warm to mimic East Africa.

*Another short story entitled "Killing The Rijnsburg." I promise I came up with the title before Bill O'Reilly started writing his historical books. I started writing this long ago, but abandoned it after failing to find a first-rights buyer for "Palma." The Rijnsburg is the Afrikaners' major orbital battle-station and taking it out is a major part of the WWIII battles in space. This battle is mentioned in "Coil Gun" and the plans for it are the McGuffin in "Palma," so it's thematically appropriate the third story be about the battle-station's destruction. Maybe when Digital Science Fiction starts accepting new stories again...

*There are various other individual story ideas I haven't really developed. One follows the neglected son of "Palma" antagonist Eugene Visser (seriously, Visser never even mentions him in the story, although be fair he has no real reason to) as he tries to do his dead old man proud by committing terrorist attacks against American occupation fores after the Confederation falls. Another features a dug-in Afrikaner regiment dying to a man to the tune of "In Christ Alone" to allow some women and children to escape an oncoming army.

Per that last point, although the Afrikaner Confederation is objectively an authoritarian, semi-theocratic (especially later) racist evil empire, there is much to admire about their culture. Things like faith, duty, honor, and bravery, all of which are held in far less esteem these days. My Afrikaners are less blatantly gross than the Draka, so it's easier to write them as protagonists. Given how the Afrikaners' evil especially offends the zeitgeist (they're racists and religious bigots), I could imagine that would grind a few folks' gears, even if I make characters like David de Lange (and not his zealous son or the sadistic Visser) the protagonists.

No comments:

Post a Comment