A brief history of America
Shiners have had a real impact on the course of history. Tyrants with a shine tend to rule longer and have longer reach than their less shiny counterparts ever did. Most of the important villains throughout this alternate history, were shiners as well. Those who took them down were equally endowed, creating a balance that has led to the paths, theirs and ours, flowing fairly close together. However, a few important divergences have happened detailed as follows.
The American Civil war was a longer affair, drawn out two additional years before the war was won, Lincoln and the north were essentially on their last legs. Thanks to Britis aid to the south after the Trent affair (the boarding of a British Mail ship and capture of two confederate envoys), which Jefferson Davis was able to turn into de facto recognition of the Confederacy, opening the way for much greater financial assistance to the rebels. Were it not for the French stating openly that if the British were to intervene on the side of the Confederacy that they would fight for the Americans, the war may have grown to a global scale. When Lincoln was assassinated on April 11th, 1865 he was in the midst of negotiating a cease fire, which many believe would have led to peace and global recognition of the Confederacy as a sovereign state. Instead his assassination sparked outrage and fire in the bellies of previously faltering citizenry. When Andrew Johnson took over the presidency he immediately scuttled the cease fire plans and re-appointed Ulysses S. Grant to his generalship over the Army of the West. (Grant had been outed as a shiner after his notable successes and tendered his resignation when the facts were known, a resignation Lincoln reluctantly had to accept.) With Grant leading the army, he burned a path to the sea…but the speed of travel was much slower and the cost that much higher. The war ended with the last Southern Army (of the west) surrendering on June 11th, 1867, with a loss of over 1.1 million men. In the final two years of the war the South committed atrocities against their slave population, killing more than 150 thousand men, women and children. In the post war years, President Johnson was reelected and when Grant attempted to run on a populist ticket the states ratified a constitutional amendment (included in the 14th Amendment) forbidding shiners from holding office higher than that of Mayor, which was amended later (as part of the 22nd Amendment) to forbid the election of a shiner to any political office and from holding a rank of higher than Captain in the military.
The long civil war was still imprinted on American minds and led to less colonialism on the part of the country, which was more limited to the Caribbean and diminishing British influence in the region. President Johnson and the general goodwill toward the French, led to the United States supporting the French in Mexico, just after the civil war ended. The United States also purchased more territory in the Caribbean from Denmark (the Danish West Indies) and the British (Jamaica). America avoided adventurism in Asia completely and by the time of the Great War they were still considered a backward nation with a sub-par military. Woodrow Wilson successfully kept the United States out of the ‘great war’ which remained a regional, European conflict (for the most part, some colonial forces were raised and fought in Africa, the Middle east and Asia, but the majority of the destruction was in France, Germany, Russia and the Ottoman Empire.)
In 1938, Adolf Hitler seized complete power of Germany and through a series of uncanny moves won many battles with France and Poland defeating them entirely and fought England to a standstill until his sea invasion was thrown back and the Soviet Union launched a surprise attack on Germany’s eastern border. Japan and Germany began unrestricted U-boat warfare in 1941, sinking scores of American vessels in the first month alone and bringing America into the war. The Japanese immediately launched an attack on Hawaii after the USA declared war upon them, rumor has it the force was going to launch the attack before war was declared, but this has never been proven. The Japanese had superior planes and aircraft carriers and easily overwhelmed the forces in Pearl Harbor. America’s carriers, outdated and slow, were saved by their very obsolescence; they were slow to return to port after a training exercise and survived the battle, even successfully launching a counter attack on the Japanese fleet where they damaged an aircraft carrier (the Hiryu) and sunk two destroyers and three of the support/supply ships. This led Commander in Chief of the operation, Chuichi Nagumo to launch a third, punitive, wave of attacks which was costly (more than half the casualties inflicted on the attacking forces happened in the third wave) but ultimately destroyed the repair and refueling capacity of the United States in the Hawaiian Islands.
With America firmly in the war, they wasted no time bringing their production capabilities to a war time level and diverting their quest for nuclear power into nuclear weapons. On July 4th 1946 the United States simultaneously dropped three bombs on Hiroshima, Nagasaki and Tokyo, ultimately causing more than three quarters of a million deaths. Japan surrendered unconditionally on July 5th, after receiving notice that three more bombs would be dropped on July 12th if they did not. This left Hitler, still the tyrannical ruler of Europe, having fended off the Russians (with the cost of not forcing England’s surrender) to be dealt with. American aid to the Soviet Union was all that was propping that country up and with Japan out of the war, the focus could now be Europe. Roosevelt was into his fourth term as president and used his position of power to not only defeat the Germans (with liberal use of nuclear weapons), but also to shape the Europe of the future. The cost of the war was, again, great, wiping out a generation of European and Russian youth.
In the aftermath, the Ottoman Empire (which had remained neutral in the war) played a huge role in the reconstruction of Europe and were instrumental in blunting the Soviet’s ambitions there. This led to the short, bitter war between the Soviet’s and Ottoman’s that began January of 1953. America supported the Ottoman Empire with their most advanced equipment, sans nuclear weapons, including their new generation of jet fighters that ruled the skies above the conflict. Stalin died soon after hostilities began and days after his death the Ottoman’s detonated their first nuclear weapon at a test facility. They then sought a cease fire and peace the Soviets, using the threat of using nuclear weapons as part of the negotiation. The Soviets, in the middle of a power upheaval, complied and were forced to cede their territorial gains from the Ottoman’s in the great war back to the empire, in lieu of paying reparations. The Ottoman’s then invaded and reclaimed the lands of Iraq, Kuwait and most of Iran in a series of brief campaigns, thanks in no small part to their American weaponry. The entire ‘Ottoman Fiasco’ was a sore blow to Roosevelt’s Successor, Harry Truman, who was serving his second term in office and dealing with the Korean war, which neither he nor the American people wanted to be involved in.
The Ottoman’s are believed to have entered into a secret treaty with the United States, guaranteeing them access to the oil fields of the middle east in perpetuity so long as a state of war between the two counties did not exist and the terms of the treaty remain confidential. This is known as the ‘Maxmus Treaty’ and it has not been proven to exist, however the United States and Ottomans have remained on friendly terms since 1959.
The Vietnam war ended in an American victory in 1973. After the stalemate in Korea the politicians were able to push for victory in Vietnam at all cost, it helped tremendously that the leadership of the South Vietnamese were forcibly retired (and imprisoned) after the Tet offensive. America set up a puppet government run by appointed officials with the help of vetted South Vietnamese. The first two years of this policy brought resentment and acts of violence to the occupiers, but it also brought efficiency. Garrisons of troops were stationed with cities, towns and even small villages to protect against the Chinese supported communists. Negotiations with China also successfully cut off arms and equipment to the north and the rebels eventually agreed to a peace. A coalition government was set up with the signing of the peace treaty and it has run the country ever since, turning it, like Japan, into a successful economic Asian power.
American politics were shaped by Roosevelt’s six full terms in office, he successfully pushed a second bill of rights through congress, which guaranteed citizens the right to work, food, clothing, leisure, housing, medical care, social security and education. Addition provisions included the rights for farmers to have a fair income and the freedom from unfair competition and monopolies. To pay for these programs the tax rates were set very high on income in brackets which rose with inflation. For example, the top bracket, currently on all income over 1.2 million is 97%, likewise inheritances are capped at 3.5 million with anything over that going to the state. These policies have stymied the economic growth and also removed dynasty families from forming, although the super wealthy routinely side step these provisions using the tax laws and or legal shelters outside of the United States. Andro, for example, is a beast (shiner with an inhuman form) who routinely resides in the United States, but is a citizen but also (God-Ruler) of Egypt, which is where he shelters his vast fortune.
Inflation of the United States is typically very low, typically .01-03%. In the seventies there was a severe period of deflation, lowered prices on goods and services, which improved the buying power of the standard citizen and brought in a ‘golden age’, but increased unemployment and decreased the tax revenue of the government, leading to reforms and checks to try and prevent it from happening again.
Other key points of history include:
- The space program happened earlier, peaking with the moon landing in 1965, it has since been underfunded with NASA relying on Shiners to do the bulk of the exploration using their super powers instead of rockets. (The moon base is one such program, built by shiners, but occupied with ‘norms’ for the most part.)
- Racism/sexism/homophobia is lessened but equal rights are still a distant dream. Women/minorities still earn roughly 77% of what a white male earns. Homosexuals were given the right to marry, but they can be refused service by citing ‘moral conflict’ by the provider against their ‘lifestyle’.
- Computers are only now rising in popularity as ‘mobile devices’, laptops and smartphones, engage the public’s eye as status symbols as well as tools.
- Devices created by people with a mechanical ‘Shine’, imbued with special abilities, can be used by others. However, when their creator dies, the devices start to fail unless exceptional care was taken in their creation. (examples of such works include; Excalibur, the Arc of the Covenant and the Spruce Goose)
- Communist China did rise to power, despite American efforts and provides the bulk of cheap labor to the world.
- Russia never quite rose to be an arch foe of the Allied powers after the 'Hitler Rebellion' (our World War 2), it is still powerful and sitting upon a huge nuclear arsenal, but it has been well contained by America, The United Kingdom and The Ottoman Empire.
- Both Hitler and Roosevelt had their remains tested, after the technology to do so evolved enough, both were Shiners. No one seems to begrudge FDR’s rumored shiner status (His remains were cremated immediately after his death), but the constitutional amendments barring shiners from being elected have not been overturned.
- The United Kingdom ceded great autonomy to its former colonial states; Canada, India, Australia, etc. but has not given them true independence, instead they are all part of a commonwealth and the citizens can come and go freely between any nation in it.
- Many of the larger states are divided into two or three smaller states. For instance, California, where most of the first book of Shiner’s takes place is divided into North California and South California. Texas is divided into three states; Tex-Arkansas, Travis and Texas.
- The city that the first story starts in is named "Auroria", it is the capital of South California and is, essentially, Los Angeles.
- The Federal government is far weaker in the Shiner's world than in reality. They did have a major land grab in the early 1900's and do control a lot of cash, however the social programs set up under FDR drain most of that wealth away. The military is a small, well trained force and the nuclear stockpile is the nations key deterrent against foreign aggression. (Overall military spending in the Shiner's world is roughly one third of that in our own.)