A pulp/SF kinda map, based on “The Lost Continent” (earlier “beyond 30”) by Edgar Rice Burroughs.
It is 200 years since the evacuation of England, and 223 since the outbreak of The Great War, which in this world did not come to an end in 1918 (for one thing, the US remained isolationist), and continued _formally_ till 1937, when massive use by the Germans of biological weapons led to an En Masse relocation of most Britons to the mainland, and informally pretty much to the current day, although increasingly in the form of intertribal massacres as technological civilization collapsed (submarine warfare was still being practiced as late as the 1970s: when things moved from guns to Pointy Sticks remains unknown). Canada pulled out of the war in the 1920s, inciting much British grumbling.
As things broke down in Europe, assaults on American commerce became ever more common, as submarine fleets descended into piracy and warlordism. Latin American coasts were raided for provisions. Somebody released an Anthrax bomb onshore in Florida, the resultant plague being fortunately contained. The Americans, sick of this crap, closed off their borders entirely and in 1972 established a maritime frontier along 30 and 175 degrees Longitude west, to be constantly patrolled by a navy with “shoot on sight” orders.
This was accompanied by a move towards American union. Already largely cut off from Europe by the 1920s, most trade had become inter-American. Travel, tourism, investment (given the lack of other destinations) all brought North and Latin America closer together over the intervening decades, and in the 1990s a “United States of the Americas” was formed, with much squabbling over allocation of Senators and Congressmen.
In the Year 2137, the USA is the world’s most advanced civilization. English is the common language, and the US/Canadian region is roughly equal in political weight to the Latin American/Caribbean areas (there has been more immigration north than south, and Latin Americans underwent demographic transition earlier than in our timeline). The Bureau of Population has kept population stable at around 1 billion for three quarters of a century, and everyone enjoys a comfortable standard of living.
Anti-gravity technology has filled the skies with flying ships, and the cities are vast and filled with great white towers ascending to the heavens. Vast solar arrays blanket the deserts, providing energy for the white cities, and Modern Science has wiped out most disease, cured the common cold, and grows strawberries as big as your head. Society is peaceful, and weapons technology has improved but little from the mid-twentieth century.
Not that all is roses. Most of the countryside is either use for mechanized agriculture or solar power arrays, and most wildlife is extinct outside the great arctic and Amazonian reserves, aside from some smallish preserves scattered here and there. Even in the preserves, scientific breeding has made the animals tame and unaggressive towards humanity. Zoo animals from beyond the Americas have mostly died off, and are seen only in museums.
The government is bureaucratic, intrusive, and largely controlled by the giant corporate conglomerates that employ most people. Not only reproduction is under government authority, and although the democratic forms remain, social mobility is low, and censorship and government control of information is rife. Nobody goes cold or hungry or lacks medical care, but most people have little political power, and may not even be allowed the basic 2 children. People tend to follow in their parents footsteps when it comes to jobs, and novelty is frowned upon. Scientific innovation is heavily regulated, and theoretical science (rather than developing a better potato or a faster amphibious flyer) is looked upon as a waste of taxpayer money.
Most notable is government control of information: the very existence of a world beyond the quarantine lines is rarely mentioned, and school textbooks have only the most perfunctory discussion of history before Jamestown, and discussion of outside events, always scarce, ceases entirely after 1914, aside from a brief mention of piracy in the 1914-1972 period. Books on outside world history have largely been removed from libraries as “obsolete”, and there is nothing like (and the government would not want) the Internet. The prohibition to go beyond the maritime borders has taken the force of a religion, and crossing beyond 30 or 175, even if entirely by accident, leads to an automatic expulsion of the Capitan from the navy, and disgrace so severe than in many cases it leads to suicide.
THE OLD WORLD
Beyond the quarantine lines, the rest of the world has changed. Multiple plagues, massive bombardments of cities by cannon with 300-mile ranges and dirigibles in the later parts of the war, and finally mass movements of armed populations displaced by plague brought about the collapse of European society and even agriculture over much of the continent. Farming was made almost impossible by the total collapse of internal trade and the endless gangs of starving and occasionally cannibalistic men crossing back and forth across the continent in search of food to loot.
By 2137, the most backwards part of the continent is probably former Great Britain, where the plagues and the consequent mass emigration left a mostly depopulated country inhabited by abandoned children, lunatics, and criminals, and the inevitable stubbornly “I ain’t lettin’ no plague drive me to Wog-land” population. Currently, a hunter-gatherer existence is the norm, aided (and sometimes hindered - nom nom nom) by the large number of acclimated wild animals escaped from zoos. Ireland is a bit more developed, in that there are some fortified villages of subsistence farmers in the west, following a rather mutated form of Catholicism.
Most of Europe is almost as bad, with some civilization surviving in such outlying areas as Scandinavia and the Iberian Peninsula, not dragged into the war until its later phases. Central Europe was largely depopulated by war-to-the-knife conditions and plagues, and restoration of civilized life was made impossible by the disintegration of the nations into innumerable warlord bands, initially French-speakers against German speakers against Polish speakers, and as languages mutated, against anyone who spoke a different dialect from your tribe.
But Europe is changing. This began some 50 years ago, when the Ethiopian Emperor Menelek XIV looked north across the Mediterranean from Egypt.
THE ABYSSINIAN EMPIRE
Abyssinia/Ethiopia was isolated enough to stay out of the war and avoid the worst of the plagues, although one influenza variant which made it down the Nile killed off one third of the population. After a period of consolidation, the Emperors began in the 1970s an expansion into a chaotic post-European Africa, depopulated by plagues, mass levies of colonial troops and huge massacres inflicted by weakening overlords in an effort to maintain control. The growth of the Ethiopian empire would continue for over a century and a half.
Today the Emperor in Adis Abeba rules most of Africa, a massive empire of 27 Provinces and 10 Territories and over 400 million people, and is the overlord of a dozen vassal Kings and Sultans and Emirs. The Ethiopians have maintained, not exactly a scientific tradition, but an engineering one, and have railways and steam-powered factories and steamships and motorized gun-carriages. (Although they’re still fiddling with internal combustion engines – some wealthy people have private steam-cars, but they tend to blow up, and anyway a truly important nobleman needs a jewel-covered elephant to make a proper display). Aviation does not extend beyond the hot-air balloon. It is a literate society, with abundant printing presses and newssheets and booksellers. The postal service is reliable, and the telegraph has been reinvented.
The Empire is Christian, and indeed the Emperors feel it is their destiny to bring Christendom to all the world, but practical necessities has made it necessary to make an accommodation with the many Muslims under the rule of the throne: plague depopulation and resettlement of Christian tribes has made the lower Sudan and Libya Christian-majority, but West Africa would require genocide to Christianize at any speed. Ethiopian power in North Africa is further complicated by the Fall of Europe. It is standard doctrine of the Ethiopian Church that the war and collapse of European civilization was God’s punishment for the sins of the White Man: as the mantle of God’s People had passed from Jews to Christians, it has now passed from Whites to Blacks. Any White, as a result of God’s curse, is now automatically a slave to any Black man: through slavery and re-Christianization, the Ethiopians will redeem Europe. (Asking too loudly why the purely heathen Chinese are doing so well is ground for an accusation of heresy).
Unfortunately, this leads to some problems with Arabs, who are not Europeans but can be pretty White-looking. The question is avoided in Arabia and NW Africa, ruled by vassals, but Egypt, Ethiopia’s gate on the Mediterranean, is ruled directly by provincial governor, and the Arab Muslim population are essentially second-class citizens in a state dominated by Copt Christians (considered “light-skinned blacks”) and Christian blacks from all over. Given that Arab Muslims still make up some 70% of the population, it is understandable that of the Emperor’s 10 million troops, over a million are posted at any time to maintain the peace in Egypt.
On the other end of the continent, the South African Empire which emerged after the Civil Wars of the 20th century is a semi-civilized nation itself, with far too much White blood among its ruling classes for the Emperors to feel entirely comfortable, but strong enough that by the time the Empire reached the Limpopo it was considered prudent to accept tribute and vassalage rather than imposing an Imperial Governor by force of arms. Meanwhile, in western Africa, imperial disinterest and allocation of funds to the conquest of Europe has meant effective independence for the Berbers, Tuaregs, and Arab nomads of the western Sahara: officially the area is imperial territory, but funds are generally barely enough to protect the borders from nomadic pillagers, let along build rails and forts and establish order through the whole vast emptiness.
Since Menelek XIV looked across the sea for new worlds to conquer, Ethiopia has pushed into Europe in a big way. Millions of European tribesmen have been enslaved, and a huge swath of land explored and carved up into future new provinces. Railroads are being built, and colonial cities established. Some small Swiss and Spanish statelets have not yet been conquered: their mountain homes are not very accessible, and they have held onto the ability to make gunpowder and crude guns. Still, they are only a minor obstacle: the big problem is the Chinese, who are moving into western Russian territories the Ethiopians have claimed for themselves, and are actually striking (no doubt hypocritical) poses re Ethiopian “mistreatment” of the barbaric Europeans…
In the Indian Ocean, among the backward Malagasy kingdoms, the Boers survive. Driven north by the collapse of White government in South Africa, and then to the sea by the slow Ethiopian advance, they managed to build crude ships and carve out a state of their own in Madagascar. Essentially a pre-steam society, they build guns and solid forts, and have managed to scare the neighboring kings into a loose alliance to prevent their further expansion.
The Middle East has been a buffer of sorts between the Chinese and the Ethiopians. Anatolia, depopulated in the war, is ethnically dominated by Kurds, who descended from the mountains after things ground to a halt, but also includes Arab refugees from the Ethiopians, remnants of the Turkish population, Islamicized Russian Cossacks, and other human flotsam and jetsam. In his win-the-hearts-and-minds campaign towards his Islamic subjects, the Ethiopian Emperor has given guns and gold to the Sharif of Mecca, who has now become the Sultan of Arabia and perhaps a bit too independent-minded for comfort.
A Messianic Shiite empire stretched from the Mediterranean to Central Asia for a while in the late 20th and early 21st centuries, and looked like it might become a third great Old World power. Alas, it was too thinly populated, too poor in resources in an era with no trade in petrochemicals, and the son failed to fulfill the promise of the charismatic father. And the Chinese were moving west with the inevitability of a glacier. Today, Persia is firmly integrated into the Chinese sphere, run by a boringly secular Shah rather than the Heir to the Prophet, and beginning to sprout odd metal towers as the Chinese grow increasingly interested in local hydrocarbons.
CHINA AND ITS VASSALS
The Chinese Empire sprawls across what was once Russia to Indochina, and includes the islands of Japan. China was hit hard by plague, but China’s ancient culture and civilization survived, and thanks to Japan being hit equally hard by disease brought back by Japanese troops on the Asian mainland, gained the breathing time to create a unified state. The Chinese Empire is an Empire, with an Emperor (the Chinese state was nominally a Republic in its early decades, but before long returned to more traditional modes of rule), but an enlightened one, with a Parliament of sorts (if only for property owners), a strong judiciary, and respect for rights of property and only moderate censorship and limitation on free speech. Technologically, it is rather more advanced than the African Empire, technological advance having been driven by military competition with the Japanese, and they have radio, television, airplanes (if no jets: long distance travel is by dirigible), high speed trains (Moscow to Beijing in two days), and internal combustion machinery of various sorts, along with clockwork robots, submarines, chemical weapons and Instruments of Regrettable Necessity (AKA fuel-air bombs). They also have a mostly wooden rocket that can get pretty close to going into orbit, although they’re not too sure what good it is.
Chinese rule is enlightened, and they have upraised the inhabitants of former Russia (in other words, made good Chinese out of them) and plan to do the same in Europe. Remarkable irrigation work has made Central Asia flourish, and industry is bustling: indeed bustling too much, since coal and oil fueled factories are making Chinese cities increasingly unlivable, and there is much talk of moving industry westwards into more thinly populated former Russia.
After eight decades of on-and-off warfare, the Chinese finally gained the naval superiority needed to throttle Japan into surrender in 2031, although it took another decade to complete the conquest of the “new Empire” Japan had created in Australia, New Zealand, Indonesia and the Philippines after the loss of their mainland possessions.
New Zealand, where Japanese settlers had swamped the white and Maori inhabitants, was incorporated as the imperial province of South Japan (the Chinese were in no mood to tolerate independent Japanese colonies), but Australia, where nearly 60% of the population was of either European origin or descendants of Indonesian or Philippino “coolies”, became a self-governing protectorate, with the Japanese going from the top of the social hierarchy to the bottom. Nearly a century later, the Australian Japanese population is down to maybe 5%, and a mixed European-Asian, English-speaking (well, English with a lot of Japanese, Malay, Tagalog and Chinese borrowings) population largely run their own affairs as one of the very few more-or-less democracies in the Old World. There is little interest in contact with the now half-mythical New World, which Australians think of as Those Selfish Bastards who left them to the tender mercies of the Japanese. There is also little interest in what happened to Olde England, since the Australians remember the occupation of the coastal cities by British naval forces in the last years of the war and the forced mass conscriptions and executions of “traitors to the Empire” which wanted Australia to pull out of the unwinnable conflict.
The Indian subcontinent is also only loosely tied to the Dragon Throne, the Chinese having had enough trouble with absorbing Japan and Indochina and Indonesia without having to add hundreds of millions of culturally alien Hindus and more Muslims. China basically controls foreign relations, maintains the peace, and enforces trade agreements, but otherwise allows the six kingdoms and two republics of the sub-continent to run their own affairs (the Himalayan states and Buddhist Sri Lanka are more closely controlled).