Ok, a world based on some musings from Faeelin on ah.com. It’s a Napoleonic Victory world, in which Napoleon, among other things, avoids invading Spain (although his puppet, Ferdinand, is incompetent enough to oversee large scale-rebellion in Latin America: US intervention to prevent French-backed forced reestablishment of Spanish rule in Mexico leads to the current US-Mexican Auld Alliance).
It is, as of 1985, about 30 years ahead of OTL technologically (2015??) : France has always been very pro science-and-learning, a UK struggling to keep ahead moved from talented amateurs to national research institutions much earlier than OTL, and the non-Communist Russians and Americans haven’t been slackers either. Global warming is advanced, but people actually accept its existence and the big powers are investing heavily in non-carbon energy and geo-engineering projects which (are claimed) will bring that global climate instability into control in a jiffy. (Other claim they will cause massive environmental damage.) This world has a vigorous environmentalist movement, although its association with Napoleon V and the current Brazilian Emperor (big boosters) gives it a bit of an elitist, upper-crust-snob-can’t-be-concerned-with-working-people air (or at least so its opponents proclaim).
The world is more “wired” but also more fragmented, with very developed ‘nets in Russia, north America and Europe, but less interconnected to each other than US-European networks of OTL. This is beginning to change. Corporate power, in spite of a slightly leftier/more technocratic air to politics, remains formidable, and with the cooling of international tensions between the Big Three trans-nationals of an intercontinental scale are emerging as a new force.
Decolonization took place in the 1960s and 70s as autocratic rule over dusky-skinned people came to be seen as gauche, and in any event unprofitable.
There was a three-way space race of sorts between the French, US and Russia, which as OTL kinda stalled out when the Moon was reached and the general reaction was ho hum. The Europeans are perhaps the most enthusiastic current space-probers, but generally with unmanned craft. The sky swarms with satellites, some privately owned.
Europe is still dominated by the House of Napoleon, ruling the Federal Empire of Greater France, with lesser branches of the family sitting on the thrones of Adriatic Italy and Westphalia, Greater France’s “left and right arms.” The French-dominated Europe-organizing structure, the European Confederation, is run day-to-day by technocratic officials in Brussels (some things remain the same across a great many TLs) and is rather closer to a United Stated of Europe than our EU, although France still has essentially a veto.
Russia is big burly and a bit backwards, but has managed to impressively modernize in many sectors, and rather than going the secular route ala Europe, has developed a modern, populist religiosity, which ala US at its best tends to live and let live with other religions as long as they don’t challenge the validity of Orthodoxy in the first place: beautiful new Mosques are built by wealthy religious foundations in central Asia, the synagogues of Minsk and Pinsk and Smolensk and Alma-Alta flourish, and the chief Orthodox Cathedral of Moscow makes OTLs restored Christ the Savior look like crap. A decentralized, federal system also helps keep the giant from fragmenting, although like a supertanker, it’s a bit hard to get the ship of state to make turns.
The US economy is less dominant in a world of multiple giants, but it still leads in standard of living among the major powers (in a world with no Communists, there’s nothing shameful in a social safety net, either). Long a rival of Napoleonic Europe, relations have grown friendlier in the last few decades as Europe has increasingly democratized. A muscular internationalism has arisen as the US looks increasingly abroad beyond “it’s” hemisphere: some US enthusiasts have spoken of a “world union” of the great powers, perhaps also including the Austo-Nipponese or the South Asians, a “United States of Civilization” to one day include all mankind. French officials privately roll their eyes at US enthusiasms, Russians note that if anything is going to unify mankind, it will be the Russian Soul.
Not quite “big three” status as yet but getting there is the South Asian Association: Indonesia (taken from the Dutch in the first Napoleonic Wars and never given back to what remains an autonomous region of Greater France) saw great (if brutal) development under the British, and succeeded in breaking away in revolt with French help in the early 1900s, while Britain was distracted with affairs in Europe: since then, the so-called “Malay Miracle” has made Indonesia into a major economic power, with a standard of living relatively comparable to OTL 2012 south Korea, and its rich mix of Chinese, Indian, and Muslim cultures having made it the biggest cultural exporter of movies, music, and fashion in all of Asia. It has broken from French influence to create its own regional block with various former colonies, most importantly the Indian Federation, which broke from Britain in the 40s and north India in the early 50s. As of yet, the alliance between the Kingdom of Australia (rather more populous and industrialized than OTL) and Japan (an old British ally) has stayed aloof from efforts to inveigle them into joining, preferring to stick with their policy of free trade with all and heavily armed neutrality.
Also growing fast in China: alas, China is an authoritarian, xenophobic sort of place, a bit less repressive than OTL China but more fond of vaguely sinister uniforms. France and the UK were no gentler than OTL in respecting the Qing dynasties disinterest in foreign trade, and although China missed out on the joys of Maoism, the post-Qing transition was bloody enough. In their last war with Japan, a messy stalemate was achieved in Korea: the development of the Japanese atomic bomb has since frozen the situation. Ire towards Russia – which picked up quite a bit of Chinese real estate during the revolutionary era – is currently more intense.
While South Africa is more of an embarrassing reminder of Bad Old Colonial Practices, and the authoritarian regime of Bharat is strictly a regional problem, the real turd in the planetary punchbowl is the Collective of Oceania, the misbegotten offspring of the old British Empire. The Empire, in attempting to maintain itself as a credible competitor to the continental giants of Russia and the US, and the concentrated wealth and population of French Europe, slowly developed into a sort of genteel fascism, technocratic, authoritarian, and capable of coolly calculating millions of tons of coal-equivalent energy production in terms of black African or Indian lives expended. Still, the British Empire maintained a certain degree of the niceties (although things got rather worse after the Unpleasantness of the early 1900s and the loss of Indonesia and assorted other bits), and what came after ’43 was far, far worse.
One of Those Things happened, and both the French and the British came under the suspicion that the other was planning a nuclear first strike: given the short flight times to Paris and London, decisions were made in a bit too much of a hurry, and things went pear-shaped. The war was over in 20 minutes: thanks to superior air defenses, the French lost a moderate chunk of Paris and a few other cities, with immediate casualties of a bit over a million; the British lost most of London and six million. It was immediately clear that the whole thing had been an idiotic mistake in judgment, but it was a bit late for apologies. Britain underwent several years of chaotic political turmoil with intervals of military rule, colonies revolted and broke away (often with foreign encouragement), until finally the Committee for Order and Restoration took control and darkness fell.
After an internal coup, the initially left-autocratic COR was replaced by a more extreme faction, which set about smashing all opposition both internal and in the few remaining colonies held by forces loyal to Britain whatever the government in power. South Africa, Canada, and Australia went their own ways (indeed, the King of Australia claimed to be the legitimate ruler of Great Britain till ’75, when a deal involved the retargeting of a number of ICBMs led to his dropping the title), as did India, but in Africa British forces still held some territory, and a new administration was put in place. The old Kingdoms and states were dismantled and replaced by the Collective of Oceania, and a broadly based system of building up the colonies – and rebuilding Britain – was put into operation.
As of 1985, Oceania is the most repressive state on Earth, a totalitarian regime only less ghastly than Stalin’s in that the regime keeps careful track of births and deaths and does not kill off the population faster than it can be replaced. Large families are compulsory. It is surprisingly post-racial, and Black Africans form a large part of the laboring classes in Britain proper nowadays, and quite a bit of Africa is run as puppet regimes rather than directly incorporated territories: as a result, the Oceanians have some success in their propaganda efforts to present themselves as a “progressive” force, and have ambitious designs on the South African sphere of influence.
Propaganda is total: all communication is by cable and fiber optics, and possession of a radio carries the Death Plus Optional Medical Experimentation penalty. Low level military clashes with the Enemy are constantly reported, and occasionally “enemy” missiles hit low-value targets in Oceanian territory. The nuclear arsenal is large, and the few Oceanian diplomats allowed abroad have made it clear that Massive Retaliation is official policy re any attacks. What To Do About Oceania is the most troublesome international political question of the day, and some pundits have joked that the current cordial relations between the Big Three have a lot to thank the Oceanians for in driving them together…
PS – apologies to Ammonoidea for stealing some of his ideas on how to organize super-Russia![link]