Literature: Icarus Falls

A rather dystopian alternate history work by AnywhereButOTL, posted on AlternateHistory.com.

This world's history diverges from ours when Richard Nixon is fatally struck by a car on October 28, 1967, before he can announce his candidacy for President. Initially, the timeline details the course of the 1968 presidential election without Nixon involved, before turning its focus to the events of the victor's administration. Things go up. And then things go way down.

The narrative unfolds in the style of a a Switching P.O.V. featuring vast plethora of characters, from well-known politicians and world leaders to soldiers to astronauts to common people, as they witness - and sometimes control - a series of increasingly bleak events.

Icarus Falls, as of May 2014, is complete, having chronicled its world's events from late 1967 until the aftermath of the 1972 presidential elections. The author indicated that a sequel was forthcoming. Said sequel, Icarus Rising, has since begun, and is currently in early 1973, with the author intending to take it up to at least 1976. Another sequel, Icarus: 2000, was created due to the author suffering from Writer'sBlock. Icarus: 2000 takes place in 2000 and consists of interviews from people in a style similar to World War Z.

This series provides examples of:

  • Alternate History Wank: Israel gets a big one when they end up conquering Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, and Jordan through the use of nuclear weapons.
  • Balkanize Me: China, after being nuked by the Soviet Union. Mongolia, Tibet, Uyghuristan, Manchuria, Guangdong, and Taiwan (the Republic of China) split the remains between themselves. Some of the splinter states (and a few neighboring countries to boot) gain unaccounted-for Chinese nukes.
    • After the Soviet Civil War, the Soviet Union loses every country that they lost in 1991 except Central Asia and Ukraine
    • Icarus: 2000 mentions independent Assam and Khalistan as a result of the Indian Civil War.
  • Berserk Button: In-universe, this is pressed for China when they discover Chairman Mao was assassinated by a Soviet agent.
    • This is the South's reaction when Edward Brooke, an African American, succeeds the Presidency after George H.W. Bush.
  • The Chew Toy: A college-aged Bill Clinton, who makes several cameo appearances in the timeline. First he gets thrown through a window by law enforcement during a protest, then gets carjacked by Director Helms of the CIA.
  • The Coup: One major arc of the timeline features Richard Helms, the director of the CIA, attempting to pull a behind-the-scenes coup against President Bush. It fails when Bush goes public with what happened.
    • Andropov tries one against Brezhnev, but it's defeated by Brezhnev's men, with the help of some military officers who happened to be passing through.
    • A group of fascist terrorists launch one in Italy, only succeeding in having the parliament building blow up with them and a large number of Italian policians being held hostage inside.
    • Rumsfeld tries to launch one against President Bush, but ends up getting each other blown up by a car bomb.
  • Crapsack World: And how.
    • Crapsaccharine World: Despite all the darkness, there are a few noticable bright spots. The American manned space program is much further advanced than even our present day, with a manned mission to Mars and a permanent Moon base both scheduled for launch within the 1970s. And thanks to the cool-headed policies of President Bush the domestic situation has improved. And The Beatles are still together as of 1973.
  • Dirty Communists: Averted, despite Cambodia being a Communist country, President Reagan reaches out to its new government for some peace and stability after the Vietnam War ends.
  • Downer Ending: Thanks to the FBI, Woodstock becomes a bloodbath.
  • Driven to Madness: Happens, in rather tragic fashion, to President Bush.
    • The first part itself ends with former president Lyndon Johnson kidnapped by government agents, while investigating voter fraud by President Bush in New Mexico.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: For the time being; Hunter S. Thompson has managed to overcome his MK-Ultra treatments for the most part and fled to London, managing to dodge the CIA and FBI in the process.
  • Enemy Mine: Robert Kennedy and Barry Goldwater form an impromptu alliance to oppose the policies of President Reagan.
    • Also thanks to the FBI and the CIA the MK-Ultra project is sanctioned by the president and used to 'cure' subversive behavior in those who speak out against the status quo.
  • For Want of a Nail: The death of a then twice failed politician, who lost the Presidency and the California Governorship in 2 years, leads to a very different world. Tell anyone in-universe that Richard Nixon of all people being elected would have butterflied the nuclear war in China, and they'd probably think you're nuts.
    • To elaborate; Nixon was feeling under the weather on October 28th. As the narration makes clear, he didn't have a sharp enough focus to notice the car that did him in.
  • Historical Hero Upgrade:
    • Dan Quayle becomes a war hero due to his actions in putting down the race war that erupts in the South.
    • Jerry Brown becomes the first independent President in 1984 under the Reform Party and brings about an end to the chaos of the The Sixties and The Seventies.
  • Historical Villain Upgrade:
    • Lin Biao uses nuclear and chemical weapons against his own people to stop the Nationalist invasion.
    • Leonid Brehnev also uses nuclear weapons against Soviet cities to try to win the Soviet Civil War.
    • Donald Rumsfeld tries to launch a coup against Bush and take control of the country's nuclear weapons.
  • Irony: The fact that 69, a number involving people getting screwed, is the number of the post where China gets screwed.
  • Nuclear Weapons Taboo: Forever and completely broken with the Sino-Soviet nuclear war. Since then - a mere three in-universe years - over two hundred nuclear weapons have been used, not only in the aforementioned Sino-Soviet war, but also by the collapsing North Vietnamese government in Hanoi, the collapsing People's Republic of China, in an Indo-Pakistani War, in the Soviet civil war, by Nazi terrorists, and by Israel. The only silver lining - if it even is that - is that so far nukes have only been used in regional conflicts, and not to start World War III.
  • Thirteen Is Unlucky: Subverted; Apollo 13 ITTL goes off smoother than IOTL. It helps that Apollo 12 was the unlucky one, having been scrubbed after being struck by lightning twice.
    • However, the Apollo 13 crew did find some Soviet artifacts this time...
  • The Vietnam War: Ends by 1969.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: President Reagan is an example, especially when he passes a draconian security bill called the EPAB to ensure the nation's safety after a devastating series of race riots that kill hundreds, and refuses to repeal it even after evidence surfaces that reveals that the FBI and other police units have been using their powers to kill hundreds of suspected 'subversives' in prison.
    • President Rhodes, is another example, allowing the CIA and the FBI to experiment with mind control on people arrested for subversive activities, including Hunter S. Thompson.
  • Wham Episode: The 69th post, which concerns the Sino-Soviet War of September 30, 1969.
    • And again when the EPAB is found to be constitutional and massive race riots grind the nation to a halt and kill thousands in response.
    • And once again when the Nazi terrorist group Paladin succeeds in nuking Mecca.
  • The Woobie: China. The Sino-Soviet Exchange occurs which destroys every major city in the country. This leads to Tibet, Uyghurstan, and even Manchuria and Guangdong declaring independence. The Nationalists, led by the authoritarian President Chen Ta-Ching, goes to war against Chairman Lin Biao over control of China in a brutal conflict known as the Mainland War. The Communists use nukes and chemical weapons but are eventually defeated. Unfortunately, the Nationalists turn China into a right-wing police state.
    • Is later averted when The Revolution is launched against the authoritarian Nationalist regime. China then becomes a democratic government called the New Chinese Republic.
  • Young Future Famous People: Bill Clinton, Al Gore, George W. Bush, and Vladimir Putin, among others, all make appearances in the timeline.