What’s up with all this Birmoverse stuff?


Good question.

First up, is that John Birmingham has asked via Cheeseburger Gothic for thoughts on what a post-WW2 world might look like in the Axis of Time (AoT) universe, with especial interest in Great Britain. It is rare for an author to do this and I think that it provides JB an opportunity to add a real richness to his books in adopting this approach.

If you hadn’t figured it out already, I like his alt-history after buying World War 2.1 Weapons Of Choice while stuck in Changi Airport in 2005 on my way home from CLAW 1 – it was an act of desperation as it was the only book on the shelves that even remotely appealed. Over two years, I managed to seek and devour 2.2 and 2.3 and then was pleasantly surprised to find Without Warning in the Taupo  Whitcoulls mid-last year. I was less impressed to find on completing it that, it was Part One of another series – there was not a single clue on the cover to indicate this which really hacked me off. Normally I won’t buy a book in a series unless I know that the whole series is published AND available – a lesson learned from War Against the Chtorr and Janissaries.

In thinking about the questions posed and subsequent dialogue on Cheeseburger, I am finding that I am able to view our current environment through a slightly off-centre perspective. By considering those things that we might want to do in the AoT universe that we didn’t get right in the real world, it is possible to divine perhaps some relevance back this way. As an example, I proposed that, in dissolving the Empire, that Great Britain establish India as a strategically-influential region power from the beginning instead of letting it muddle its way there over the decades as has actually happened. My thought at the time, was that,by doing this, we might be able to head off much of the instability in the Pakistan/Afghan area for the AoT universe. Thinking about it later, this also ties in with my belief that we have the wrong force composition in Afghanistan and they what it really needs is for the regional powers, namely India and Iran (might as well accept it and stop the name-calling), to pick up the burden of maintaining regional stability. Some thoughts on greater Indian involvement here

It’s an example of one writer harnessing the horsepower of the Information Militia.

It’s fun thinking about what-if, whether at the geo-strategic or micro-tech cool toys level; even more fun when there is a possibility that some of those ideas might actually be taken up into the storyline for the next book or form the basis for perhaps some fan fiction in the AoT universe. Nothing wrong with a bit of fun…

In other news…

Airmen from the 105th Airlift Wing's Logistic Squadron load cargo aboard a C-17 bound for Haiti early Saturday morning. (Photo: Tech Sgt. Michael O'Halloran, 105th Airlift Wing)

It’s also been a bit slow in the real world this week. Yes, lots of angsting over Haiti in just about every blog site on the planet with some interesting points being raised:

  • Humanitarian issues aside, at what point do we decide that it is simply just not worth it to keep saving these failed ‘nations’ from themselves? Here’s a couple of interesting threads from the Coming Anarchy side of the house:  The Latest Battlefield of the Monroe Doctrine and A Bit Of Realism Please? Our constant reinforcement of Third World cargo cults comes at a price and, sooner or later, it is going to become untenable unless we start to address the root issues. Step 1 would be to rein all these meddling NGOs that address the symptoms but actually only foster more suffereing in the long run…
    • Have a plan and impose control.
    • Blindly sending in supplies, aid, etc is a waste of time if the resources don’t exist ont he other end to do anything with them. Ditto for all the well-meaning dogooders who just want to arrive in Port-au-Prince to ‘help’.
    • If you are a ‘once-were’ nation, like the UK and France, then get with the programme and be thankful that someone is getting out there and filling the vacuum (and fixing the messes) left when you dumped your colonies. If you don’t like the new rules, then YOU rock up with the necessary capabilities and force structures to do the business. Here’s a subjective but interesting item on what a real power can bring to the party Do Americans Care About British Soldiers?
  • It’s funny how the US gets caned for even thinking about interfering in these rock show wannabe countries but then gets caned when something like this happens for allowing the country in question to decline to such a state in the first place. Same thing happened in Myanmar – why won’t the US make the government open up to accept aid? You really have to wonder sometimes why the US doesn’t just pack it all up and go home…?

The current operation in Haiti is a classic example of humanitarian assistance, disaster relief, stability operations and countering irregular activities – the earthquake could not be predicted and it is unrealistic to expect Haiti to construct quake-proofed buildings, so many of the current problems are unavoidable. However it will be interesting to see what follow-on activities are conducted to maintain stability in Haiti and address the core problems within the country.

Travels with Shiloh is running a series on the implications of MAJGEN Flynn’s paper on what’s wrong with intel – of course the shorter option to write might have been ‘what’s right with the intel world’ – while I don’t agree with all the points made, I think it is important that someone is raising them to get the discussion going…

The Information Militia

I’m coming to the conclusion that Michael Yon is a well-meaning but meddling journo who probably does need to slow down and consider his place in the universe. I like his website and think it is some great material – please check it out – as photojourno, he is very good and sends some very strong and often poignant messages. His Facebook page on the other hand is an example of the down side of the Information Militia – he is a guy who has, just this week, publicly bypassed the US military chain of command by inciting his fans to pressure CENTCOM and the Pentagon to release a Haitian-born officer in the US Army, current posted to Afghanistan, for duties in Haiti. Yes, sure, members of this officer’s family have died so there IS a compassionate case to be made and his cultural and language skills would definitely be employable BUT…BUT…do you not think that perhaps the DoD has its own processes to this to occur and that there might also be broader implications in releasing him from his current theatre? Michael Yon also posted an item critical of Starbucks and its relationships with the US military which was subsequently proven to be both incorrect and old news as covered in this story from 2004 – as HoaxSlayer points out, even when a retraction is released, it never gets the same degree of airtime as the original accusation.

8 thoughts on “What’s up with all this Birmoverse stuff?

  1. Don’t agree with all my points? How dare you!

    Just kidding…I was actually talking to my boss the other day saying that I feel I’m falling into a bit of a rut as it comes to thinking about intel. Any assumption challenging arguments you might have would be very welcome.

    Thanks for this post, btw. I had no idea who Birmingham was before yesterday and now I’m putting his first book on my wishlist.

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    • Will have a think about the intel side of the house and probably come back to you offline in a couple of days – the domestic task list needs to be whittled down before Carmen comes home for the weekend otherwise I’ll be in trouble…+ I do some of my best cogitating when vacuuming…

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  2. Cool! Two converts!! The Axis of Time trilogy is a ripping good yarn that transplants some very cool 21C high tech back to WW2…where, unlike The Final Countdown, things don’t turn out to be as easy as you might think…

    The first book in JB’s new series is Without Warning and is the result of a comment some nutjob greenie pinko communist made to the effect that the world would be a whole lot better if America just blinked out of existence (it’s happened before but MAJ Nelson always made Jeanie out it back again). Set on the eve of OIF, it is more insightful but you will have to wait a while to find out what happens next as the next book in the series, After America, is still in the final draft stage.

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  3. Found a copy of the first book in Borders today, but at $32 for a paperback I decided not to buy it. Most other sci-fi is going for half that price. Let’s hope the Wellington library has it.

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