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Author Topic: sub-genres
rcmann
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Working on a universe. Not sure where it fits. It's not steampunk for sure. maybe someone is familiar with a similar milieu?

Tesla died of a childhood illness. Without his unique genius, Edison won the "war of currents" and America remained on the DC standard of electrical distribution. Only one World War was fought, but it left Europe in a shambles and the American system became the de-facto world standard.

Due to the inefficiencies inherent in long distance power transmission in a DC system, the continent wide power grid that we see today was never built, and the infrastructure that goes with it never came to pass.

Without AC power, many other technological advances either didn't happen, or happened in a different way. This also includes military technology and avionics. As of the year 2020 in my universe, the general level of technology is approximately 1920's - 1930's, with a few specialized area of greater advancement.

The kicker is that magic works. Sometimes. Badly. It is undependable and inconsistent. Sometimes it works, sometimes not. Sometimes you get what you want, sometimes you get close to what you want, sometimes it blows up in your face.

Scientific method rules the developed portions of the world. Empirical evidence has proven the existence of magic, much to the chagrin of physicists. It exists, but it does not obey Newtonian physics. This world has not discovered subatomic particles nor quantum physics yet.

Is there a name for this type of sub-genre?

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JoBird
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Alternative History?

Is that what you're looking for? This sounds like alternative history to me.

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MattLeo
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Well, I'd call it "alternative history fantasy". Randall Garrett pioneered this with his Lord Darcy Stories (*Too Many Magicians*). Darcy investigates magical murders, even though (if I recall) he himself is not a magician and requires the assistance of a forensic sorcerer. Technology is roughly mid-Victorian, and physical science is largely the province of quacks.

I suspect market-wise there isn't a distinct market segment for such stories, but they generally fit with urban fantasy.

By the way, modern long distance transmission uses very high voltage DC. The advantage of AC is that it can be easily and efficiently stepped up and down by a simple transformer. DC is actually more efficient than AC with the equivalent RMS voltage.

Another aside: in the early modern era, alchemy and astrology were considered "scientific"; they had a lot of the trappings of science (elaborate mathematics for example). It was only in the late 1700s when these once respectable disciplines failed to advance while allied disciplines like astronomy and chemistry did that astrology and alchemy were forced to move to the humbug ghetto.

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BoldWriter
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Sounds a bit like an old pen/paper RPG I used to play, Shadowrun, where magic comes back into the 'modern' world in a futuristic setting.

Your idea really speaks of steampunk to me, or at least a variant, but I like that. It sounds like you don't.

I'm not sure why you are trying to box it up into a genre label, but I think that Jo's suggestion is the most appropriate.

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rcmann
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Not really trying to label it, but some editors seem to like neat categories and labels. So I thought it might be handy to be able to say it's a (fill in blank).

Yeah, DC can be transmitted. But manipulating it on both ends is the problem. That's why Edison lost the 'war', even though he already had a head start with a home turf advantage. I wasn't going to get too technical about the details though. I find when you say something like E = I/R, most people grab a crucifix and scream at you. No point in frightening the reader with unnecessary details.

This is roughly parallel to out universe up to the point where Tesla dies as a child. From that point they diverge.

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MattLeo
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Also note: Tesla did not *invent* AC, which was known even when he was a student back in Serbia. AC is what you get out of the most simple-minded generator you can build.

Tesla's important invention was an efficient AC motor, and three-phase electric distribution. Three phase reduced the wire gauge needed for large motor loads and enabled simple motors to start in a consistent rotational direction.

As for efficient power transformers and AC distribution, Westinghouse had already been working on them when he brought Tesla on. What he got from Tesla was poly-phase distribution. Tesla's inventions encouraged the replacement of steam and water power in industrial applications with electric motors.

Lighting must have been the killer app for early adopters. DC works fine for running light bulbs and early adopters were sufficiently few and concentrated in cities that I suspect distribution efficiency wasn't as decisive as people think -- although hydroelectric stations were important in AC adoption. I wouldn't be surprised if the polyphase AC motor had as much or more to do with AC's ultimate triumph. Certainly without simple, efficient AC motors DC might have persisted much longer.

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rcmann
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Granted. Tesla was not the inventor of AC. What he did was produce a long list of significant improvements. Not only to AC generators and motors, but to electrical machinery in general. He was also a former employee of Edison who got shafted, and then switched over to Edison's rivals and helped take down his old boss.

I never meant to imply that Tesla was a god. Nor do I claim to be an expert in the subject of power distribution systems. I know enough about the subject to make my premise sound plausible, and that, coupled with my willingness to do some basic research, should keep me from producing anything that violates the Law of Don't-Write-Bullcrap.

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MattLeo
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quote:
Originally posted by rcmann:
I never meant to imply that Tesla was a god.

Although that might be interesting.

quote:
coupled with my willingness to do some basic research, should keep me from producing anything that violates the Law of Don't-Write-Bullcrap.
Nobody can ask for more than that.
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