Thursday, May 31, 2012

FAN #57C: "Accident" by Johnny Pez

Now up at the Sobel Wiki is my own For All Nails vignette #57C: "Accident", in which Serbian nationalist Gavril Ducevic meets his destiny.

"Accident" was first posted to the soc.history.what-if newsgroup on 8 April 2002.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

FAN #57B: "A Serb Bullet" by Johnny Pez

Up today at the Sobel Wiki are a couple of For All Nails vignettes.  I've posted my own #57B: "A Serb Bullet", continuing the story of Serbian nationalist Gavril Ducevic in June 1974.  Meanwhile, my colleague David Mix Barrington has posted his own #87: "Springtime for Ferdi and Elbittar", following events in the South American nation of New Granada.

"A Serb Bullet" was first posted to the soc.history.what-if newsgroup on 16 February 2002, and "Springtime for Ferdi and Elbittar" on 27 June 2002.

BTW, the title "A Serb Bullet" comes from a particularly odious remark made by one of the more odious regulars at shw-i.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

FAN #57A: "The Next Stage" by Johnny Pez

At this point, you may be saying to yourself, "You know, Johnny, for someone who claims to be a participant in the For All Nails project, you don't seem to have written many vignettes back in the day."  It's true that none of the links I've posted to the Sobel Wiki this past month have been to my own work, but today, that changes.  Today's vignette is my own #57A: "The Next Stage", in which a Serbian nationalist decides to take direct action against the German Empire in June 1974.

"The Next Stage" was first posted to the soc.history.what-if newsgroup on 16 February 2002.

Monday, May 28, 2012

FAN #309: "Remembrance Day" by Johnny Pez and David Mix Barrington

For All Nails #309: Remembrance Day [FN1]

By Johnny Pez and David Mix Barrington

Williams Pass, California, USM
6 August 1973

Not for the first time, Foreign Minister Ezra Bakersfield found himself wondering whether this had been a good idea.

Bakersfield stood on a reviewing stand under the hot California sun while Governor-General Carter Monaghan gave a speech. Apart from the location, it was very much like all the previous Remembrance Days Bakersfield had spent as a member of Monaghan’s Cabinet. Up until now, the ceremony had always taken place at the Mount Scott National Cemetery in Burgoyne. [FN2] This year, though, President Moctezuma had decided to highlight the growing entente between his country and the CNA by inviting the Governor-General to join him at the USM’s own Remembrance Day ceremony here in California. The invitation, of course, had been privately accepted in Burgoyne before being publicly offered in Mexico City. Bakersfield himself had been in favor of accepting it, but he was well aware that any gesture of friendship toward the Mexicans carried political risks here at home.

Mind you, the same thing was true from the Mexican perspective. This was as risky for Moctezuma as it was for Monaghan. They might both end up regretting this day.

“ . . . appropriate that our two nations should come together in peace here in Williams Pass,” Monaghan was saying. “For it was here that they came together in war over a century ago . . . “

. . .

Brooklyn City, New York, N.C., CNA
6 August 1973

“A war that we started,” muttered Joan Kahn to herself as she watched the speech on vitavision.

Steven Taylor shook his head in bemusement. “I’ve never seen anyone who could get so worked up over something that happened so long ago. You must be the only Peejer [FN3] I know who gets angrier about the Rocky Mountain War than about the Mocazo.”  [FN4] Taylor was between boyfriends at the moment, and had elected to spend Remembrance Day with his friend (and top-selling author).

“And why not?” Kahn insisted. “As bad as it was, the Mocazo was just one day. The war lasted for eight years. And at least everyone admits that we were to blame for the Mocazo.”

Taylor could tell that Kahn was getting ready to start up on the subject of Henry Gilpin; he recognized the signs. What was needed here, he thought, was a distraction, and whoever was editing the camera feed from the ceremony in Williams Pass helpfully provided him with one by briefly cutting away from the Governor-General to President Moctezuma.

“Who’s that woman standing next to el Popo?” he asked guilelessly.

It worked. “Oh, that’s his new Secretary of State, Maria del Rey,” Kahn answered.

“You don’t see a lot of diplomats with those kinds of curves,” he remarked.

Kahn snorted. “Since when did you start noticing those kinds of curves?”

“I’ll have you know,” Taylor said loftily, “that I am well aware of feminine standards of beauty, even if it is purely from an esthetic standpoint. And she is clearly, as the Mexicans like to say, a hot tamale.”

“She used to be a vita star, back in the fifties and sixties,” said Kahn. “That’s why the Mapmaker picked her for the Senate back in ’65, as a way to drum up interest.”

“Makes sense, I suppose,” said Taylor.

“Well, that and the fact that she was his mistress at the time.”

“That definitely makes sense,” Taylor chuckled. “So how did she become the Secretary of State? Has she become el Popo’s mistress?”

“I doubt it. From what I’ve heard, el Popo hasn’t even touched a woman since Señora Moctezuma passed away. I think it’s strictly political between them.”

“ . . . honor the sacrifice these men made,” Monaghan was saying on the vita. “Regardless of which uniform they wore, all the men who gave their lives here . . . “

. . .

Las Cruces, Mexico del Norte, USM
6 August 1973

“Shut up!” snarled Carmen Valenzuela.

Her kid brother Fernando looked at her in astonishment. “What’s wrong with you?”

“Look,” she said, “if you don’t want to listen to the speech, fine, go out and hit a cricket ball around or something. But if you’re going to stay here, close your mouth.”

“Hey, I was only saying that the Tory looks like –“

“I heard what you said he looks like, you don’t have to say it again!” Carmen glared at her brother.

Fernando grinned a stupid grin. “I see. Sounds like someone’s coming down with a bad case of jungle fever!”

No, Carmen thought, someone’s come down with a bad case of guilt. [FN5] Telling Fernando about it would be worse than useless, though. The only way to get him to stop talking, she knew, would be to hit him, and she didn’t want her visit home to end in a fight. Instead, she got up and walked away.

One month, she thought as she walked out the front door of her family’s house, one month and I’ll be in Montreal. And I don’t care if I never come back here again.

Through the screen door, as she walked away, she could faintly hear the sound of the vita. “ . . . hope that the President’s generous invitation to address this . . . “

. . .

Williams Pass, California, USM
6 August 1973

“ . . . gathering is a sign of future friendship and cooperation between our two nations. Thank you all, and may God bless the Confederation of North America and the United States of Mexico.”

Chief of Staff Chewy Enciso clapped along with everyone else on the reviewing stand as Monaghan stepped away from the podium. God, the man was a dull speaker! It was a wonder the Tories hadn’t all voted for Skinner out of sheer boredom. Y that speech! It had probably been re-written half a dozen times by half a dozen speechwriters to make sure it didn’t say anything at all.

Just for a moment, as Enciso glanced around at the assembled dignitaries, he found his gaze locked together with that of Vincent Mercator. The Secretary of War held him for a moment with his eyes, then turned his head to watch the President.

What is that man thinking? Enciso wondered. He had a feeling that whatever it was, it had nothing to do with Chewy Enciso, and he felt an obscure sense of relief at the thought.

Letting the unsettling thought drop, Enciso returned his attention to President Moctezuma as he lumbered past on his way to the podium. As dull as Monaghan had been, he knew, el Popo wouldn’t be much better. Put him in front of a crowd, y his boss could give a speech that would bring the casa down. But a setup like this, with just a vita camera pointing at him? Stiff as an ironing board.

Oh, well, here goes nada . . .

The President, being a head taller than Monaghan, had to pause for a moment to adjust the microphone. Then he cleared his throat, a sound like a lococicleta starting up, before saying, “I’d like to thank the Governor-General for his inspiring words, and for graciously agreeing to . . . “

. . .

McDowell Air Force Base
Fort Webster, Southern Vandalia, CNA
6 August 1973

“ . . . join us here today. We come here today to remember . . . “

The vita receiver in the enlisted men’s mess looked as though it had been sitting on its shelf since before the Global War, and for all Corporal Terry Henning could tell, maybe it had been.

He and Serjeant Blaylock were sitting at a table, a half-full pitcher of Willkie pilsner between them, while the snow-flecked black-and-white image of Immanuel Moctezuma added slightly to the already-high ambient noise level. Ordinarily, they wouldn’t be off duty at this time of day, but it was Remembrance Day, and they could sit back, relax, and enjoy a few mugs of Southern Vandalia’s Finest before returning to duty tomorrow.

Henning could just about make out Moctezuma’s speech, but it meant that he missed something Blaylock said to him.

“Sorry, Sarge, what was that?”

Shaking his head, Blaylock repeated, “I said, have you had a look at our new pilot?”

“No. Why, does he have two heads or something?”

“Not he, Corp, she. Cornet Alexandra Stapleton, fresh out of Marlborough City.”

“What, for real?” Henning asked. He had heard that the Air Force Academy had started accepting women cadets, and the first set had graduated the year before. [FN6] But he couldn’t imagine what one of them would be doing in a nowhere unit like the ten-twelve. “What did she do to wind up here, slug the Commandant?”

“Nothing that simple,” Blaylock said. “Word is that her father showed up one day and shot up the place.” [FN7]

Henning swore in astonishment. Then, after a pause, “What’s she like?”

Blaylock shrugged. “Like a Cornet, fresh out of M.C. You know the type.”

“No, I mean, what’s she like?”

Blaylock shrugged again. “Not too bad. She’s no Tania Monroy, but I wouldn’t kick her out of my bed.”

“Hmm,” Henning hmmed. “Think she’d like her portrait done?”

“Your scribbles aren’t exactly Rembrandt, Corp.”

“Can’t blame a bloke for trying, Sarge.”

Blaylock laughed. “Corp, you’re the only bloke I know who would ask a woman up to see his etchings, and then show her a bunch of etchings.”

Henning joined in Blaylock’s laughter, then drained his mug. Among the chatter in the mess, he could just make out Moctezuma’s voice.

“ . . . that terrible winter, when four armies found themselves . . . “

. . .

University of Mexico City
Mexico City, C.D., USM
6 August 1973

“ . . . struggling to survive, the larger war forgotten as they . . . “

Professor Frank Dana had been hoping to catch the cricket match between Mexico City and Henrytown in the faculty lounge, but all the networks were carrying the Remembrance Day ceremony at Williams Pass. With a shrug, he had sat down and watched. It wasn’t as satisfying a way of putting off grading essays, but it would have to do. If only Moctezuma’s delivery wasn’t so wooden.

“Excuse me, didn’t mean to interrupt.”

Dana turned away from the vita at the sound of the unfamiliar voice. “No problem,” he said automatically. “It’s pretty dull.” Then he got a good look at the other man and said, “Professor Sobel?”

“Why, yes. I say, isn’t it Professor Dana?” The accent was unmistakably Australian.

Dana rose from his seat and shook the other man’s hand. “That’s right. Oh, and you can call me Frank. What on earth are you doing in Mexico City, Professor?”

“Oh, then you must call me Rob,” said Sobel, as he took a seat next to Dana.

“Rob it is,” said Dana as he resumed his seat.

“As for why I’m here, Frank, the UMC Press is publishing the Spanish language edition of For Want of a Nail, and I’m here to go over it with them.”

“That’s odd,” said Dana. “I haven’t heard anything about it.”

Sobel rolled his eyes. “Perhaps because of the title, which they insist on changing. Apparently, they’re afraid that Spanish speakers won’t understand the reference. The Spanish language title is going to be Los Escorpiones en una Botella.”

“You have to admit,” said Dana, “that it’s a pretty fair summary of your thesis. You seem to view the two nations as inherently antagonistic.”

“Which you were at some pains to dispute in your critique.”

Dana smiled. With a gesture at the vita, he said, “I think events have borne out my view.”

Sobel shrugged. “A meaningless gesture. Two centuries of hostility can’t be dismissed so easily. You lot will be back at loggerheads in no time.”

“Would you agree to a little wager, Rob?” Dana asked. “I say that ten years from now, the USM and CNA will be allies. If I’m wrong, I write an essay called ‘Why Robert Sobel Was Right’. If I’m right, you write an essay called ‘Why Frank Dana Was Right’. What do you say?

It took only a moment for Sobel to thrust out his hand and say, “Done, sir!”

Dana shook Sobel’s hand. “Done!”

On the vita, Immanuel Moctezuma was saying, “ . . . was only three months ago that the remains of . . . “

. . .

Palo Alto, California, USM
6 August 1973

“ . . . Lance Corporal Pyle were identified and returned to the North Carolina town of . . . “

“It's really the perfect image for any war,” Bobby said.

“What is?”

“Williams Pass. Thousands of men stumbling around in the cold and the dark, starving, desperately trying to kill anybody they run into. For absolutely no reason.”

“But our army was a thousand miles inside your territory. Your guys had a reason, didn't they?”

“So it was more Gilpin's mistake, maybe. But then most of our other wars were our mistake. The Big Beaner thought New Granada and Alaska and goddamned Siberia would look better in our color on the map. Silva had our guys all over the South Pacific being eaten by lizards, so that maybe we could conquer some kangaroos [FN8].”

“You showed me the Japanese bomb damage in San Francisco...”

“I'm not saying there isn't a reason to start that seems to make sense, or that we shouldn't prepare to defend ourselves at all. It's just that in the end, some ordinary soldiers always wind up freezing in the dark or being eaten by lizards.”

“But at least we're talking now, right? Monaghan and Moctezuma seem like sensible men, don't they? Not like Mercator--”

“Actually I think the Mapmaker is more sensible than you guys ever gave him credit for. For all his talk, he never started any wars, did he?”

“What about the border incidents?”

“All theater, I think. More goddamned mistakes, but nobody in either military wanted them to get bigger. And why would they? We have a much better army, and you have K-bombs. Hell, you might even have superbombs. You guys just like to paint Mercator as the devil – I saw that when I lived there.”

“Bobby, when you go to army training, do they paint us as the devil?”

“Actually, no. We did a war game once, about what we would do if fighting started on the border, but the rhetoric is all about defending the nation, and being so strong no one will ever dare attack us. We're a citizen army, remember, not like you guys. Everyone has a relative who fought in the Global War. We know what it's really about.”

“And I don't know anyone in our army. I just saw the cadets marching around UNO every so often. Bobby?”


“Let's be the peace. Us. Tory and Gringo. Forever.”

“Is that a proposal?”

“Isn't the man supposed to propose?”

“Okay. Anna Tory DiMaggio, will you marry me?”

“Yes, Bobby Gringo Contreras, I will.”

. . .

[FN1] Remembrance Day is celebrated in both the USM and CNA, marking the anniversary of the armistice ending armed combat in the Rocky Mountain War on 1 August 1853. Both nations celebrate the holiday on the first Monday in August.

[FN2] Located atop OTL’s Mount Washington, Pittsburgh.

[FN3] Nickname for members of the Peace and Justice Party, originally a derogatory term used by supporters of the other parties. PJP members have defiantly adopted the name themselves.

[FN4] The unsuccessful North American intervention in Puerto Rico. See FAN #45, “A Paper Tiger Revealed”.

[FN5] See FAN #5, “Out of Uniform”.

[FN6] See FAN #54, “Some Rival”.

[FN7] See FAN #21A, “And Met With My Downfall”.

[FN8] In both Mexican English and Mexican Spanish, the derogatory word for an Australian is “canguro” and the word for the animal is “kangaroo”.

(Special thanks to David Mix Barrington for the scene featuring Bobby and Anna.)

Sunday, May 27, 2012

FAN #0: "Drinking Guide to Burgoyne" by Sir Francis Burdett

Today, the Sobel Wiki gets something a little different.  About ten months after the For All Nails project began, a shw-i regular who went by the name Sir Francis Burdett decided to post an unofficial vignette.  The result was Four Awl Nails #IX: "Drinking Guide to Burgoyne", which was just what it sounds like -- an excerpt from a Rough Guide-style tourist guidebook describing some of the more notable watering holes in the C.N.A.'s capital city of Burgoyne.

Sir Francis eventually became an official member of the FAN Cabal, but "Drinking Guide to Burgoyne" never quite made it to the status of official FAN canon.  Until now.  By the power vested in me by Because I Said So, "Drinking Guide to Burgoyne" is now officially ensconced within the For All Nails section of the Sobel Wiki, as FAN vignette number zero.

"Drinking Guide to Burgoyne" was first posted to the soc.history.what-if newsgroup on 11 August 2002.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

FAN #55: "Triestine Livers" by Randy McDonald

We now return to the Sobel Wiki, where we link today to Randy McDonald's For All Nails vignette #55: "Triestine Livers".  Today's vignette focuses on a young Slovenian writer in Trieste in June 1973.

"Triestine Livers" was first posted to the soc.history.what-if newsgroup on 9 March 2002.

Friday, May 25, 2012

FAN #308: "Lady Albany" by Johnny Pez

We at the Johnny Pez blog now interrupt our stream of For All Nails vignettes to present . . . a For All Nails vignette.

As I suspected might happen, the posting of all these links to old FAN vignettes has inspired me to write a new one.  Additional inspiration was provided by my unwilling relocation to Pittsburgh, the capital city of the Confederation of North America.

Therefore, return with me now to the not-yet-renamed capital of the C.N.A., 18th century Pittsborough, Pennsylvania . . .

For All Nails #308: Lady Albany

By Johnny Pez

“This important work was all but completed when, on September 3, 1783, Albany contracted what was first believed to be a cold. His fever continued to mount, however, and a week later Albany developed pneumonia. Bleeding was initiated to save his life, but on September 20, 1783, at the age of sixty-one, Albany died.”

---Robert Sobel, For Want of a Nail, p. 43.

Trinity Church
Pittsborough, Pennsylvania, N.C., C.N.A.
23 September 1783

Lady Abigail Burgoyne, Duchess of Albany, stood in the chill rain by the open grave. The Reverend Samuel Barr stood to her right as he read the service for the dead, and beyond him stood Lord Cornwallis, the Acting Viceroy. At the foot of the grave stood the men who made up the Grand Council of the Confederation of North America – an impressive name for a singularly unimpressive group. Behind Abigail were the members of her household: her two infant sons, their nursemaids, and her husband’s secretary. Around them stood the small crowd of fur traders, tradesmen, and farmers who had made Pittsborough their home, and who had come to see the funeral of the Hero of Saratoga.

Abigail’s mind kept slipping back five years, to a time when she had stood by another open grave holding the mortal remains of another recently-deceased husband. Had it only been five years since Dick’s death? It seemed like a lifetime. Of course, when you were twenty-five years old, five years practically was a lifetime.

Dick had been a soldier, and a Patriot, and he had died in the terrible privations of the encampment at Valley Forge in the worst winter anyone could remember. He had died, and it seemed to Abigail that the Patriot cause had died with him. Philadelphia fallen, Albany fallen, and the flame of independence that seemed to burn so brightly in the summer of ’76 was guttering out, leaving only ashes and death.

Dick’s death had left her a destitute widow, surviving on the charity of others. And how much charity could there be for a traitor’s widow? For just like that, Dick had ceased to be a Patriot, fighting for liberty and independence, and become a traitor to King and Country. Just like that, all the Patriots in New-York Town were Loyalists, and always had been. Abigail had known that the wise course would be to join them, to sing the praises of Good King George and call down curses on the heads of the traitors of the Congress.

But at night, she would dream of Dick, so proud to fight for liberty, and she knew she would rather die than betray his memory by foreswearing the cause for which he gave his life. So when others raised up their voices and called upon God to save the King, Abigail had remained silent. When the people made Gentleman Johnny Burgoyne their new hero, she had seethed. And when she heard talk about other unrepentant Patriots making plans to leave the colonies for Spanish Mexico, she had made up her mind to join them.

There was a wet splattering sound, and Abigail was back in the churchyard. Reverend Barr had tossed a handful of soggy dirt onto the coffin. The ceremony was over. The townspeople and the government officials were drifting away, leaving the open grave, the rain, and the widow. The members of her household stood off a way, waiting in silence for their mistress to finish her own vigil.

“Lady Albany?”

Three years had accustomed her to those words, to her title. She looked up, and saw the concerned face of Lord Cornwallis. “May I be of any assistance?” he continued.

Abigail had always rather liked Lord Cornwallis. She could almost believe he was unaware of her humble origins. He had always treated her as though her title went back to the Conqueror, rather than being a clumsy attempt by the King to curry favor with her husband. And if he had come from Great Britain to stamp out the Rebellion, he had at least shown none of the vindictiveness of the Loyalists after he succeeded.

“Thank you, Charles,” she answered. “I would be grateful if you could escort me to the carriage.”

Lord Cornwallis bowed, and together they made their way through the churchyard, her household following behind. Like most of the buildings in Pittsborough, the church was newly-built, and its whitewashed walls gleamed spotlessly in the watery morning light. Beyond it, a few score other wooden buildings clung to the bank of the Monongahela, while the vast bulk of Fort Pitt loomed indistinctly to the northwest.

Not for the first time, Abigail found herself wondering what could have possessed Parliament to make this isolated frontier town the capital of their new Confederation. Johnny had always been of the opinion that John Connolly’s patron Lord Dunmore had been behind it. Connolly had been a resident of Pittsborough before the Rebellion, and he owned a considerable amount of land in the area – land that had become quite valuable when Pittsborough was named the Confederation’s new capital.

There were only a handful of tombstones in the church’s graveyard – not many of Pittsborough’s residents had died since the building of the church – and trees covered much of the churchyard. As they passed through them, Lord Cornwallis spoke up.

“Lady Albany, I wonder if I might impose upon you for a favor.”

Abigail smiled briefly at Lord Cornwallis’s courtly language. Four years as a playwright’s wife had given her an appreciation for the elaborate conversation of the aristocracy. “You have but to ask, Charles,” she replied.

“Mr. McKee has invited the Grand Council and myself to dine with him this evening, and I would esteem it a great honour if you would consent to accompany me.”

Abigail turned the matter over in her mind. Lord Cornwallis was a widower, and so would indeed be in need of an escort, for which duty Abigail would be eminently qualified. Should she agree? On the one hand, she had little liking for the Grand Council, or Alexander McKee for that matter, and was certain she would find an evening in their company to be burdensome. On the other hand, spending the evening in Government House brooding over Johnny’s death would be even more burdensome.

“I should be delighted, Charles. What time would you like me to be ready?”

“My thanks, Lady Albany, you shall have my eternal gratitude,” said Lord Cornwallis as the two of them neared the gate. “The function is due to commence at seven, so I believe six would be an opportune time.”

“Six it shall be, then, Charles. You may rely upon it.”

Lord Cornwallis bowed again, saying, “I shall have no fears in that respect, my lady.”

When they reached the carriage, Lord Cornwallis gallantly assisted her entrance before joining her within. He nodded politely as the nursemaids, Mrs. Tipton and Mrs. Whitaker, entered with their charges. Abigail knew this was a breach of propriety – servants did not ride with their masters – but she refused to be separated from her sons, and so where she went, they went, and their nursemaids with them. Besides, she was still rebel enough to sneer at the concept of keeping one’s place. Was it her place, a cobbler’s daughter, to ride in a fine carriage and bear a lordly title and hob-a-nob with the great ones of the land? I am a viper, she thought to herself, as the carriage began its journey through the muddy streets. A rebel viper in the bosom of the English aristocracy. Lord Cornwallis knew of her peculiarity, and was too much of a gentleman to object to the impropriety.

The carriage started off, and again her mind was drifting back, as it did so often now. She remembered a morning unlike this one, bright and clear and cold, in New-York Town. She had been leaning out a second-storey window, shaking out a blanket, and a commotion in the street below caught her attention. Off to the left, in the distance but growing rapidly closer, were screams and the rattle of hooves and metal-rimmed wheels over the cobblestones of the street. A run-away carriage, the team of horses mad with fear, their reins torn from the driver’s hands.

Abigail had let the blanket fall from her hands as the carriage passed underneath, and it had draped itself over the heads of the two lead horses. Suddenly blinded, they had ended their panicked flight, and the carriage had come to a juddering halt fifty feet beyond her window. Men in the street had grabbed hold of the panting horses, and a finely-dressed man had sprung out from the carriage.

He had not been long in learning what had interrupted his flight, and so Abigail found herself looking down upon Lieutenant General John Burgoyne, the darling of the Loyalists, and the absolute master of the colonies of New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware.

“Good woman,” Burgoyne had addressed her, “your quick thinking and timely aid has saved me from a fearful, perhaps even mortal, injury, and earned you my undying gratitude. If there is anything within my power to grant you, you have but to name it and it is yours.” He had ended his fine speech by doffing his plumed cap and performing a sweeping bow.

“It was not for your sake that I acted,” she had answered, “but for that of the helpless people who stood in your path. There is nothing I need from you, Gentleman Johnny Burgoyne.”

Burgoyne had grinned up at her. “That’s a fearsome sharp tongue you have there, good woman. If you need nothing from me, perhaps your good husband does. I daresay he has earned a goodly reward, if you speak him as sharply as you do me.”

“My husband’s needs are less than mine. He fell a year ago in service to the Continental Congress.”

The grin vanished from Burgoyne’s face. “You shame me, good woman. It was a cruel jest to make to a soldier’s widow, and I repent me of it.” He sank down then on one knee and bowed his head, and went on, “I beg you, good widow, allow me to make such amends as I may. If your man fell in service to the enemies of the Crown, nonetheless do I honour his sacrifice. Please, grant me this favor, and let me wash away my shame.” He looked up at her, then, and heaven strike her down if there weren’t tears in his eyes.

Abigail was brought back to herself by a change in the motion of the carriage. They had left the rutted mud streets of the town and were driving up the gravel drive of Government House.

The capital building of the Confederation of North America was still a-building, and the grounds consisted of stretches of mud interrupted by stagnant pools of water, with piles of rubbish here and there to add variety to the landscape. The brick façade was complete, but none of the windows on the second floor were glazed, and only half the windows on the first. Work had ceased when Johnny fell ill, and had yet to resume.

The carriage halted at the summit of the gravel drive, and the footman assisted Abigail and the others to the ground. They all carefully picked their way across the wooden planks that spanned the muddy ground until they reached the wooden steps that led up to the building’s entrance. Eventually, the wooden steps would be replaced by marble ones. Eventually.

Johnny had been thinking ahead when he laid out the design of Government House. A spacious foyer opened onto a vast ballroom that rose up two storeys. The ballroom had never been used, due to the unglazed windows and the unlaid floor, and the fact that the sweeping stairs that ascended to the balconied upper story hadn’t been installed yet. In due course, Johnny had confidently informed her, the Confederation would extend across the whole continent to the Pacific Ocean, and there might be as many as fifteen or twenty constituent confederations. When that day came, Johnny told her, then Government House would be ready to house the government of a mighty dominion of the Crown.

Abigail and the others went directly from the foyer to the private wing of Government House, where the dining room, sitting room, kitchen, and bedrooms were, thankfully, finished. For the first nine months of her stay in Pittsborough, while Government House was going up, Abigail had lived in Mr. Semple’s public house at Water and Ferry Streets. She still couldn’t decide whether their rooms in Government House were an improvement. On rainy days like this, the roof tended to leak, and the rooms were drafty on windy days. Against that, there was the relief of finally having a domicile of their own for the first time since leaving New-York the year before.

She had just begun to get their rooms in some semblance of order, and was looking forward to spending the rest of her life here with Johnny, when he fell ill. Dr. Bedford had done all he could, bleeding Johnny half a dozen times, but it only seemed to make him worse. On the twentieth of the month, John Burgoyne, Lord Albany, Viceroy of the Confederation of North America, had passed away.

Abigail refused to allow herself to see Johnny as he had been in his last days. Instead, she thought back to the night his new play, Pocahontas, had opened. He had invited her to accompany him to make amends for his thoughtless comments, and she had finally allowed herself to be persuaded. How disappointed Johnny had been when she told him she had never heard of the Indian princess!

“But you’re an American!” he had exclaimed. “How can you not know about Pocahontas and Captain Smith?”

She had shrugged. “They were Virginians. I’m a New Yorker. Next time, you ought to write about Peter Stuyvesant.”

Johnny had shaken his head. “How you all thought you could create a nation together is beyond me.”

To her astonishment, she had found Pocahontas delightful. Johnny had managed to turn the story of the Indian princess into a satire on the Loyalists and Patriots, and done it in such a gracious manner that neither group was displeased.

Afterward, during dinner, Johnny had been full of praise for her wits and beauty, and Abigail didn’t need to be a fortuneteller to see that Johnny was, in his polite and courteous way, inviting her to share his bed.

As charming as she found him, though, she had no wish to be the latest in the long line of Gentleman Johnny Burgoyne’s conquests. She had told him that she ought to be getting back home, and he had, politely and courteously, called his carriage for her.

She thought at first that that would be the end of the matter. The next day, though, it seemed as though half the tradesmen in New-York Town were going out of their way to do her favors. She had been seen at the theater, and remarked upon, and now the word was out that Gentleman Johnny had a new paramour. Well, if they thought they could curry favor with General Burgoyne by toadying up to a cobbler’s daughter, she would not disabuse them of the notion.

But perhaps the tradesmen knew better than she, for a week after her night at the theater, one of Johnny’s servants had called at her lodgings with an invitation to dine with him again. His carriage had come, and once again she had been the reluctant recipient of his hospitality. After dinner, though, instead of flattery, he had said, “Mrs. Conrad, tell me about Peter Stuyvesant.”

So it was that she found herself becoming the secret co-author of his next play, In Old New Amsterdam. She found it breathtaking watching as her stories of the peg-legged tyrant were transformed into a drama of love and war.

The new play was only half done when she heard from one of Dick’s old comrades from the First New York. General Benedict Arnold was going to lead a party of Patriots west into Spanish Louisiana next spring. There, they would establish a settlement free of the British Crown and its Loyalist toadies. Abigail had declared then and there that when Arnold’s party left, she would be going with them.

“My Lady?”

Abigail sat up, aware that she had fallen asleep in the sitting room. She looked up at the clock on the mantelpiece: five o’clock. Her girl, Letitia, was standing beside her. “My Lady, Lord Cornwallis says you need to get ready for the party.”

“Thank you, Letitia.” Abigail rose, and the girl followed her to her bedroom. There was a whalebone corset to be fastened into, and petticoats and a dress to go over it, and then makeup to be applied. The familiar ritual helped to occupy her mind, and by six o’clock she was back in the sitting room, waiting for Lord Cornwallis.

He appeared promptly as the clock was chiming six, his red uniform resplendent, and his powdered wig carefully arranged. “You look lovely as ever, My Lady,” he greeted her.

“And you look dashing as always, Charles,” she answered.

Taking her arm, Lord Cornwallis escorted her out to the carriage, again helping her inside. They rattled down the gravel drive, then began splashing through the muddy streets of Pittsborough.

The overcast sky had begun to darken by the time they reached Mr. McKee’s large frame dwelling at the corner of Water and West Streets. The house, Abigail had heard, originally belonged to an Indian trader named James O’Hara. However, O’Hara had had the misfortune to support the Rebellion, and after British rule was restored he had been arrested and his property confiscated by a Loyalist named Simon Girty. McKee, a friend of Girty’s, had bought the property from him.

Like Government House, the McKee house had a gravel drive leading up to its main entrance. The carriage came to a stop, and one of McKee’s servants took charge of it while the footman helped Abigail and Lord Cornwallis descend to the ground.

Mr. McKee had spared no expense for his guests, lighting every room with wax candles and oil lamps. They showed the house to good advantage, and Abigail was impressed by the well-crafted furniture and paintings. Then it occurred to her to wonder whether the credit belonged to Mr McKee or to the displaced Mr. O’Hara.

Mr. McKee met them in a large dining room dominated by a long, heavy table. “Lord Cornwallis! A pleasure to make your acquaintance again! And Lady Albany! I wasn’t expecting the honour of your company tonight!”

“Lord Cornwallis graciously requested that I accompany him tonight, and I couldn’t refuse,” Abigail answered. Despite Mr. McKee’s courteous words, Abigail could tell that he wasn’t particularly pleased to see her. She suspected that he resented having to defer to someone of such common origins.

Mr. McKee returned his attention to Lord Cornwallis. “My Lord, please allow me to introduce my other guests. I’m sure you know Doctor Connolly from the Southern Confederation.”

“Of course,” said Lord Cornwallis politely. “Doctor, a pleasure, as always.”

Dr. Connolly bowed. “Lord Cornwallis, Lady Albany.”

Dr. John Connolly was a Pennsylvania native who had aligned himself with Governor Lord Dunmore of Virginia during his dispute with the Pennsylvanians over control of the territory beyond the Monongahela. After fighting broke out between the colonists and the British in 1775, he and Lord Dunmore had schemed together to raise a force of Loyalists and Indians at Fort Detroit and use them to crush the Rebellion. Connolly had been captured by the Patriots in Maryland, and had spent the Rebellion in gaol, finally being freed by General Clinton in 1778.

According to Johnny, it had been Lord Dunmore who had persuaded Lord North to appoint Connolly as the Governor-General of the newly-created Southern Confederation. However, Connolly’s dreams of power had proved to be cruelly mistaken; he had learned to his cost that he could do little without the approval of the Southern Confederation’s General Council. And that body, ably led by Theodorick Bland, the Royal Governor of Virginia, had been minded to approve little for Connolly. The Governor-General had spent his first year in office writing increasingly angry letters to Johnny demanding that Something Be Done. Johnny, however, had been content to allow Governor Bland’s wishes to prevail.

“My Lord,” said Dr. Connolly, “I was hoping to bring to your attention a most outrageous perversion of justice being perpetrated under our own noses!”

“Rest assured, Governor-General Connolly,” Lord Cornwallis answered, “if there is justice being perverted under my nose, I shall certainly take steps to see that it is, er, un-perverted.”

“It warms my heart to hear you say so, My Lord,” said Dr. Connolly, though Abigail doubted that all the fires of Hell could warm Connolly’s heart. “I mean to speak no ill of the dead,” he continued with a bow of the head in her direction, “but I fear me that your predecessor was most lax at times in seeing justice done.”

“Lord Albany? Surely not!” Lord Cornwallis insisted. “The man was a veritable cornucopia of justice!”

“You must judge for yourself, My Lord,” said Dr. Connolly. “As you are no doubt aware, following the end of the Rebellion, the traitor Washington was brought to London for trial and sentenced to life imprisonment. Dr. Franklin interceded on his behalf, and at his instigation the traitor was brought back to Virginia and confined to his estate at Mount Vernon. It was far too lenient a sentence for such a notorious traitor, and when I was appointed Governor-General of the Southern Confederation I was determined to see that he be placed under a more stringent state of confinement. However, my attempts were balked by Governor Bland, who has been content to allow the traitor to remain where he is. I was most vigorous in my attempts to bring the matter to Lord Albany’s attention, but he insisted that he could not compel Governor Bland to alter his policy. It is my earnest hope, My Lord, that you will see the necessity for action in this matter.”

Johnny had indeed heard from Dr. Connolly many times on the subject of “that traitor Washington”. Though he had never admitted it to Dr. Connolly, Johnny had been more pleased than otherwise by Governor Bland’s treatment of Washington. Washington, after all, had once been Bland’s commanding officer in the Continental Army, and Johnny much admired such personal loyalty. To Dr. Connolly, however, Johnny would simply point out that his powers as Viceroy were quite limited; quite as limited, in fact, as Dr. Connolly’s own powers as Governor-General. As much as he sympathized with Dr. Connolly, he would say, there was nothing he could do to change the circumstances of Mr. Washington’s imprisonment.

Lord Cornwallis, after gravely listening to Dr. Connolly’s statement, paused for a moment before responding. Finally, he said, “I understand your concerns, Governor-General Connolly. This is indeed a serious matter.” He paused again, and then, a touch sadly, continued, “However, I am as yet only serving as Acting Viceroy. As such, I feel it would be premature for me to attempt to promulgate any new policies. For all any of us knows, the Ministry may see fit to appoint another man as Viceroy – perhaps even a North American, such as yourself.”

Dr. Connolly affected astonishment at the suggestion. “Oh, surely not, My Lord! As much as I might wish to see it, I do not believe it would be prudent for the Ministry to place such an important office in the hands of a North American so soon after the Rebellion. I feel confident that they will rather repose their trust in a man of unimpeachable loyalty such as yourself.”

Abigail would have wagered all the tea in China that Dr. Connolly was not the least bit astonished at the thought of a North American being appointed in Johnny’s place. She would in fact have wagered all the tea in China and Ceylon that Dr. Connolly’s first action after hearing of Johnny’s death was to write to his patron Lord Dunmore to suggest himself as the C.N.A.’s new Viceroy.

Abigail found the idea sufficiently appalling that she interrupted Dr. Connolly to say, “Charles, would you be so kind as to give my apologies to our host? I fear that the day’s excitement has proven too great for my delicate constitution. I should like to retire and collect myself, if I might.”

“Not at all, My Lady,” Lord Cornwallis was quick to answer. “Please, allow me to escort you to Mr. McKee’s sitting room. You should find the atmosphere quite restful.”

As they left the dining room together, Lord Cornwallis murmured to her, “I wish I could absent myself from Connolly’s company so readily.”

The atmosphere in Mr. McKee’s sitting room was indeed quite restful, and Abigail felt her mind settling into a more tranquil state. She was remembering the night in Johnny’s parlour in New-York, pages from his new play scattered here and there, when she had informed Johnny that she intended to leave with General Arnold’s party for Louisiana.

“Why, Mrs. Conrad, whatever for?” Johnny had said, his features perplexed.

“Because there is no place for me in this world,” she had answered. “I have no wish to remain where my husband is a traitor, and I a traitor’s widow. General Arnold intends to found a new settlement, for those of us who cannot give up the dream of liberty. That is the life I would choose for myself.”

There had been an odd look on Johnny’s face. “And is there nothing here for you? Is there nothing in this city that you would regret leaving?”

“Perhaps,” she had said softly. “Perhaps there are one or two things I would miss. But I would miss liberty more.”

Johnny’s eyes had dropped to the quill pen in his hand. “Mrs. Conrad . . . Abigail . . . it’s . . . it’s such a damn nuisance to be a playwright and suddenly find yourself at a loss for words. Now that you put me to the test, I find . . . I find that I can’t bear the thought of watching you leave.” He had looked up again, looked at her. “I want you to stay, Abigail. With me. I want you to stay and be my wife.” He slid down from his chair onto one knee. “Will you, Abigail? Will you be my wife?”

The clock in the sitting room rang eight. Abigail looked up, and saw Lord Cornwallis standing in the doorway. “Is it time for dinner, then?” she asked him.

When he didn’t answer, she grew concerned. “What is it, Charles?”

“My Lady,” he said slowly, “you know I’ve always had the greatest respect for Lord Albany. He was my superior officer, and my friend.”

“I know, Charles,” she said. “You’ve been a good friend to both of us this past year. And you’ve been a greater comfort to me than you can ever know, these past few days. I don’t know that I could have withstood Johnny’s passing without you.”

“And yet,” he whispered, “to my shame, to my great shame, I was false to him. In my heart, I was the most baseborn traitor that ever lived.”

Of all the shocks Abigail had suffered since Johnny had fallen ill, this was the greatest, and the most unexpected. She had no difficulty understanding what Lord Cornwallis was trying to say.

“Do not be ashamed, Charles,” she told him. “Whatever was in your heart, you kept there. Never did you make any sign of it, by word or deed. You remained true to him to the end.”

“You are kind, My Lady,” said Charles. “More kind than I deserve. You would think me the greatest villain that ever lived if I spoke the words my heart urges, while you still grieve for your husband.”

“I know what you would say, Charles,” she assured him. “It is plain enough on your face. And you are no villain. Believe me when I tell you that there is no man in the world that I would rather hear those words from. But you must not speak those words, now or ever.”

Charles closed his eyes, and Abigail hated to see the pain in his features. “Of course, My Lady.”

“Charles, in spite of what you might feel for me . . . and in spite of what I might feel for you . . . your world is one I could never share. You are a general in His Majesty’s service, and you must go where he commands you to go. I know you were only jesting with Doctor Connolly, but what you said was true enough. The Ministry might send us another man to be Viceroy, and call you back to London. And I could not go there with you.”

The pain was still there as Charles said, “But why, My Lady?”

“There is a child at Government House,” said Abigail, “a child who bears the title of Lord Albany. I want that child to be an American.” She deliberately used the older, faintly disreputable term, rather than the newly-coined “North American”. “I want him to grow up here, in this land, the land that holds his father’s remains. At one time, I was ready to leave it, but Johnny made me see that I belonged here, and I want to make Little Johnny see that he does as well.”

Now there was a smile on Charles’ face, in spite of the pain. “Still a Patriot, My Lady?”

“Now, and for always, Charles.”

There was a touch of awe in his voice as he extended his hand and said, “Dinner awaits, My Lady.” She took it, and rose from her seat, and they left the sitting room arm in arm.

“The General even found time to write two more plays, both of which were well received not only in New York, but elsewhere in America and in London. His marriage to Mrs. Abigail Conrad, a North American who had been a known rebel sympathizer during the war, was greeted by loyalist and former rebel alike as a good omen for a new era of friendship between the English speaking peoples.”

--- Robert Sobel, For Want of a Nail, p. 39


FAN #54: "Some Rival" by M.G. Alderman

Today's Sobel Wiki post is M. G. Alderman's For All Nails vignette #54: "Some Rival".  This vignette shows us Evangeline Gilmore's graduation ceremony at the Royal Air Force Academy on 2 June 1972.

"Some Rival" was first posted to the soc.history.what-if newsgroup on 13 February 2002.

I would also like to take this opportunity to note that, according to the Magic Blogger Machine, the Johnny Pez blog has just racked up its 70,000th pageview.  Yay me.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

FAN #53C: "Bachelors' Hall" by M. G. Alderman

Today's addition to the Sobel Wiki is M. G. Alderman's For All Nails vignette #53C: "Bachelors' Hall".  The vignette includes excerpts from a letter written in December 1970 from the Commandant of the Royal Air Force Academy to the Deputy Science Minister.

"Bachelors' Hall was first posted to the soc.history.what-if newsgroup on 6 February 2002.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

FAN #53B: "The Apes of Hell" by M. G. Alderman

Now up at the Sobel Wiki is M. G. Alderman's For All Nails vignette #53B: "The Apes of Hell".  On a frigid February morning in 1972, Cadet Alexandra Stapleton serves a punishment detail at the Royal CNA Air Force Academy.

"The Apes of Hell" was first posted to the soc.history.what-if newsgroup on 6 February 2002.

My FAN colleauge David Mix Barrington has been busy today as well, posting FAN vignettes #72 "Closing Time" (the transcript of a CNA chat show) and  #83A "Live From Nairobi" (a quick glance at Victoria in the strife-torn summer of 1974) by Dan McDonald, and his own #83B "The Briar Patch" (CNA political analysis from May 1974).  These were posted to shw-i on 8 April, 13 May, and 17 May, respectively.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

FAN #53A: "Corbies" by M. G. Alderman

Now up at the Sobel Wiki is For All Nails vignette #53A, "Corbies" by M. G. Alderman, as well as an article on the Michigan City Spy Ring.  The vignette features Lucien Reynard, a police captain in Quebec City, as he reads his morning paper on 9 July 1971.

"Corbies" was first posted to the soc.history.what-if newsgroup on 5 February 2002.

Monday, May 21, 2012

FAN #172: "State of Emergency" by Jonathan Edelstein

Those of you who have been following the saga of Victoria Madoka and her troubled homeland may well be wondering, along with her, Where do we go from here?  Well, rather than make you wait three months until I reach the next Victoria vignette, "State of Emergency", I have magnanimously chosen to post it to the Sobel Wiki today.

A word of explanation: author Jonathan Edelstein originally meant for "State of Emergency" to be another multipart super-vignette following events to the fall of 1974.  However, life intervened (as it so often does), and he was only able to complete the prologue, which carries the story from 24 May to 24 December 1973.

However, that is not the end of the story (in either sense).  In January 2011, Jonathan posted a coda to the story of Victoria Madoka to soc.history.what-if entitled "Domestic Scene".  This is already up on the Sobel Wiki, so if you'd like to jump ahead to Victoria's life in 1985, go to it, and good luck.

"State of Emergency" was first posted to soc.history.what-if under the title "State of Emergency (Prologue)" on 29 November 2002.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

FAN #51N: "Victoria's Secret (Part 14)" by Jonathan Edelstein

Now up at the Sobel Wiki is the final installment of Jonathan Edelstein's For All Nails super-vignette, "Victoria's Secret (Part 14)". In this concluding vignette, Victoria Madoka receives her sentence for sedition, and a new Parliament is elected in the former British colony of Victoria.

This vignette was first posted to the soc.history.what-if newsgroup on 25 July 2002.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

FAN #51M: "Victoria's Secret (Part 13)" by Jonathan Edelstein

Now up at the Sobel Wiki: Part 13 of Jonathan Edelstein's For All Nails super-vignette "Victoria's Secret".  In today's vignette, we follow the final week leading up to Parliamentary elections in the former British colony of Victoria.

This vignette was first posted to the soc.history.what-if newsgroup on 23 July 2002.

Btw, the character of Antonio Marques was named after a holocaust-denial troll who infested shw-i back in the day.  Also, the comment thread from the original "Victoria's Secret (Part 13)" post on shw-i gave rise to Jonathan's brilliant Spinoza in Turkey timeline.

Friday, May 18, 2012

FAN #51L: "Victoria's Secret (Part 12)" by Jonathan Edelstein

The latest addition to the Sobel Wiki is up: Part 12 of Jonathan Edelstein's sprawling For All Nails epic, "Victoria's Secret".  In today's vignette, the jury reaches a verdict in the Victoria Madoka case.

This vignette was first posted to the soc.history.what-if newsgroup on 2 June 2002.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

FAN #51K: "Victoria's Secret (Part 11)" by Jonathan Edelstein

The Sobel Wiki is now host to Part 11 of Jonathan Edelstein's epic For All Nails vignette, "Victoria's Secret".  In today's vignette, Victoria Madoka reveals her secret.

Today's vignette was first posted to the soc.history.what-if newsgroup on 29 May 2002.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

FAN #51J: "Victoria's Secret (Part 10)" by Jonathan Edelstein

In addition to brief articles on the locomobile and inventor Aaron Garfield, the Sobel Wiki now includes Part 10 of Jonathan Edelstein's For All Nails vignette, "Victoria's Secret".  In today's vignette, Victoria Madoka takes the stand in her own defense.

This vignette was first posted to the soc.history.what-if newsgroup on 12 May 2002.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Dog walk: 5/15/12

Two days of rain ended this morning, so it goes without saying that dogs were being walked.  Our course took us over the bridge and then down to the the Ohio River flood plain that the locals call the McKees Rocks Bottoms.  The Bottoms are separated from the rest of McKees Rocks by a set of impassably broad railroad tracks, and the only way to get by them are 1) over the McKees Rocks Bridge, and 2) down River Avenue to West Carson Street.

The basenjis made their zigzag way across the Bottoms, frequently raising the ire of other dogs who were chained up in the back yards of the houses we passed.  We traveled down the length of Hamilton Street, which is bordered on one side by the Ranger Park basketball court, and on the other side by a stand of tangled, forbidding woods.  We turned right onto Schoen Street, and were nearing the intersection of Shingiss Street when I noticed a large dog crouching on the side of the road.  He had short tan fur and a black-and-red dog collar with an Allegheny County dog tag.

He was a stray dog, and he came over to investigate the basenjis.  Louis can get a little growly when we come across other male dogs, particularly unfixed dogs like the stranger, so I kept the two apart as best I could.  The stranger evidently decided that he liked the basenjis, because when we began walking up Shingiss Street, he followed us.  I passed a woman and asked her if she knew who the dog belonged to, but she said she didn't.  She had never seen him before.

At this point I noticed a pickup truck from the local Department of Public Works turning onto Schoen, so I followed it, and the stranger followed me.  The driver said he didn't know what to do about stray dogs.  He did, however, have the number for the local Police Department, so I called them.  I was connected to a woman who got my information, then told me that she would call the local animal control people, who would get back to me.

While I was waiting to hear back from animal control, the stranger began walking back up to Shingiss, and I followed him.  I trailed him up Shingiss, then left onto Catherine Street.  There were three teenaged boys on Catherine who expressed alarm at the sight of the stranger.  One of the boys said the dog belonged to a neighbor of his, and I persuaded him to lead the dog back to his home.  He did so, and soon had the dog restored to his place behind a chain-link fence.  Since the gate was closed when we got there, I wondered how the dog had escaped, and the boy said that he had probably jumped over the fence.

With the stranger restored to his home, the basenjis and I made our own way back over the bridge and to our happy home.  It's now 4:25 PM, two hours since we called about the stranger, and I still haven't heard back from animal control.

FAN #51I: "Victoria's Secret (Part 9)" by Jonathan Edelstein

Now up at the Sobel Wiki is Part 9 of Jonathan Edelstein's "Victoria's Secret".  In today's vignette, Victoria Madoka visits Letitia Ntimana in prison and learns a secret.

Today's vignette was first posted to the soc.history.what-if newsgroup on 6 May 2002.

Monday, May 14, 2012

FAN #51H: "Victoria's Secret (Part 8)" by Jonathan Edelstein

Today's addition to the Sobel Wiki is Part 8 of "Victoria's Secret", Jonathan Edelstein's sweeping For All Nails vignette.  In today's vignette, Victoria Madoka's trial for sedition begins.

Today's vignette was first posted to the soc.history.what-if newsgroup on 3 May 2002.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

FAN #51G: "Victoria's Secret (Part 7)" by Jonathan Edelstein

It's the latest addition to the Sobel Wiki, Part 7 of Jonathan Edelstein's epic For All Nails vignette "Victoria's Secret".  In today's vignette, the people of the former British colony of Victoria get ready for the upcoming Parliamentary elections, and for the trial of Victoria Madoka.

This vignette was first posted to the soc.history.what-if newsgroup on 29 April 2002.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

FAN #51F: "Victoria's Secret (Part 6)" by Jonathan Edelstein

Now up on the Sobel Wiki, and available for your reading pleasure, is Part 6 of Jonathan Edelstein's extended For All Nails vignette, "Victoria's Secret".  In today's vignette, the fallout from the deadly protest march of 4 April 1973 reverberates through the former British colony of Victoria.

This vignette was first posted to the soc.history.what-if newsgroup on 25 April 2002.

Friday, May 11, 2012

FAN #51E: "Victoria's Secret (Part 5)" by Jonathan Edelstein

Today's addition to the Sobel Wiki is "Victoria's Secret (Part 5)" by Jonathan Edelstein, the continuing story of the sedition trial of Victoria Madoka in the former British colony of Victoria.  In today's vignette, the outlawed Victorian National Congress holds a demonstration for Madoka on 4 April 1973.

This vignette was originally posted to the soc.history.what-if newsgroup on 23 April 2002.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

FAN #51D: "Victoria's Secret (Part 4)" by Jonathan Edelstein

Part 4 of Jonathan Edelstein's "Victoria's Secret" is now up at the For All Nails page of the Sobel Wiki. In today's vignette, Victorian Prime Minister Richard Patten gets a lesson in the realities of coalition politics.

This vignette was first posted to the soc.history.what-if newsgroup on 20 March 2002.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

FAN #51C: "Victoria's Secret (Part 3) by Jonathan Edelstein

Part 3 of Jonathan Edelstein's "Victoria's Secret" is now up at the For All Nails page of the Sobel Wiki.  With the start of Victoria Madoka's trial for sedition less than two months away, reactions continue to spread in the former British colony of Victoria.

This vignette was first posted to the soc.history.what-if newsgroup on 18 March 2002.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

FAN #51B: "Victoria's Secret (Part 2)" by Jonathan Edelstein

Part 2 of "Victoria's Secret" by Jonathan Edelstein has been posted to the For All Nails page of the Sobel Wiki. "Victoria's Secret Part 2" follows some of the reactions to Victoria Madoka's indictment for sedition, and takes a look at the unstable political situation in the former British colony of Victoria.

This vignette was first posted to the soc.history.what-if newsgroup on 2 February 2002. (Was is just a coincidence that part 2 of "Victoria's Secret" was first posted on 02/02/02?  You'll have to ask Jonathan.)

Monday, May 7, 2012

FAN #51A: "Victoria's Secret (Part 1) by Jonathan Edelstein

The Johnny Pez blog now presents Part 1 of Jonathan Edelstein's sprawling epic For All Nails vignette, "Victoria's Secret", which was posted this morning at the Sobel Wiki.

Some background: in For Want of a Nail, Sobel mentions a British colony called Victoria, but he doesn't say where it is.  Jonathan decided that Victoria should be our own worlds's Kenya, even though Sobel refers to Kenya as Kenya on page 189.  At any rate, Jonathan's Victoria has much in common with our world's Rhodesia, and "Victoria's Secret Part 1" finds a black Victorian lawyer named Victoria Madoka in court, being charged with sedition in February 1973.

This vignette was first posted to the soc.history.what-if newsgroup on 29 January 2002.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

FAN #46: "NUBS Presents 'Insight' " by Dan McDonald

Today's addition to the Sobel Wiki is another vignette from the For All Nails project, FAN #46: "NUBS Presents 'Insight' " by Dan McDonald.  The vignette consists of the transcript of a 60 Minutes - like newsmagazine show broadcast on September 17, 1972.  The show looks at Kramer Associates, the world's largest corporation, ten years after K.A. scientists detonated the world's first atomic bomb.

This vignette was first posted to the soc.history.what-if newsgroup on 3 January 2002.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

FAN #44D: "Ireland's End" by Randy McDonald

Today, the Johnny Pez blog is honored to highlight the latest addition to the Sobel Wiki: For All Nails vignette #44D, "Ireland's End" by Randy McDonald.  The vignette consists of a story filed by a Montreal journalist, André-Philippe Maeterlinck, about his visit to Ireland in October 1972.

This vignette was first posted to the soc.history.what-if newsgroup on 11 June 2003.

Friday, May 4, 2012

FAN #44C: "On Brittany's Shores" by Randy McDonald

As noted before, I have resumed work on the Sobel Wiki, an online encyclopedia of the alternate timeline of Robert Sobel's counterfactual history For Want of a Nail. Every day, for as long as I can manage, I'll be posting at least one new article.  Currently, I am concentrating on vignettes from the For All Nails project, and today's vignette is FAN #44C: "On Brittany's Shores" by Randy McDonald.  The vignette consists of a story filed by a Montreal journalist, André-Philippe Maeterlinck, about his visit to Brittany in September 1972.

When Randy first sent a rough draft of this vignette to myself and the rest of the FAN Cabal ten years ago, I suggested that he give it the title "Brittany's Spears".  Sadly, Randy eventually decided not to go there, but the reader can see in the fifth paragraph just how close he came.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

FAN #44B: "A Québécois on the Scheldt" by Randy McDonald

As promised, we here at the Johnny Pez blog present another link to our other monumental project, the Sobel Wiki.  Today's newly-posted article is another vignette from the For All Nails project, "A Québécois on the Scheldt" by Randy McDonald.  The vignette consists of a story by a Montreal journalist, André-Philippe Maeterlinck, about his visit to Austrasia (the FAN version of Belgium) in September 1972.

Since the foundation of Belgium in 1830 post-dated Sobel's point-of-departure by 53 years, and there appeared to be no mention of Belgium in For Want of a Nail, Randy decided to give the FAN version a different name.  Alas, Randy had failed to note that Sobel did in fact mention Belgium by name exactly once, on page 235. By the time someone in the FAN Cabal noticed this and pointed it out, it was too late -- Austrasia was an established part of FAN canon.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

FAN #44A: "Un Quebecois Errant" by Randy McDonald

The Sobel Wiki is a project I started 21 months ago.  As explained in greater detail here, the Sobel Wiki is an encyclopedia of Robert Sobel's 1973 counterfactual history For Want of a Nail: If Burgoyne Had Won at Saratoga.  After about six months work, I grew frustrated by the Wikia platform's unreliable software, and I let the project drop.  However, recently Wikia has done an overhaul of their software, and I'm ready to resume work on the Sobel Wiki.

To start things off, I've decided to start posting vignettes from the For All Nails project at the rate of one per day.  Today's vignette is #44A, "Un Québécois Errant" by Randy McDonald.  The vignette consists of a story by a Montreal journalist, André-Philippe Maeterlinck, about his visit to Lithuania in August 1972.

Next up is #44B, "A Québécois on the Scheldt".  Stay tuned!