Literature / The Fountainhead Filibuster: Tales from Objectivist Katanga
A Web Original Alternate History
series created by AlternateHistory.com
member Linkwerk. Set in the late 1950s and 1960s, it features everyone's favourite/hated
wacky founder of Objectivism
, Ayn Rand
, and a lot of various Historical Domain Characters
. All of them get involved in a rather peculiar game of geopolitics.
Long story short, this timeline diverges from our own when Rand decides to recreate the Mary Suetopia
described in her novel Atlas Shrugged
in Real Life
. And what better place to do so than in the then chaotic landscape of the former Congo Free State, specifically, the southern Congolese historical region of Katanga
She convinces various businessmen and sympathizers to aid her in the construction of the supposedly utopian artificial town of Galtville, run along the principles of her infamous and polarizing Objectivist philosophy. And let's just say that the timeline starts getting weirder and weirder from there on...
Read it here
. A chapter guide can be found here
Tropes seen in this series :
- Alternate History: A pretty unusual one, set during the height of the early Cold War, referencing a lot of the changing geopolitics (the decolonisation of Africa and the conflicts it spawned, etc.).
- Allohistorical Allusion: The military and diplomatic doctrine of Rand's African regime grows eerily similar to that of the unrecognized Republic of Rhodesia, which appeared a few years later in our own history. Linkwerk has confirmed the parallels and said he's deliberately aiming for some overlap of historical patterns in this area.
- Anachronic Order: All of the episodes so far have been of this variety. Hell, the first episode of the series is set in what looks like the beginning of the end of Rand's regime-building experiment.
- Ayn Rand: Well, duh. Pretty much the Villain Protagonist of the series. She starts out as a relatively reasonable (if kooky) writer, philosopher and investor. But as the installments set in the mid-60s reveal, she eventually undergoes severe Sanity Slippage and becomes a Not-So-Harmless Villain.
- Animated Adaptation: One writer speculated on an in-universe cartoon based of the UN's battles with Galtville, called The Hammershields.
- The Baroness: Rand becomes one (Rosa Klebb-variant) in Katanga.
- Be Careful What You Wish For : It's evident from the episodes set chronologically later in the timeline's story that Rand's dreams of founding a brilliantly working economic and social utopia gradually fall to pieces over the course of several years.
- Big Damn Hero : Ernesto "Che" Guevara to Patrice Lumumba and indirectly, Dag Hammarskjöld.
- Cool Plane: Rand secretly purchases all of the legendary Argentine FMA Pulqui II fighters, designed by famous German engineer Kurt Tank and has them smuggled to Katanga via freighter and then river barge. Soon after that, the planes become the core of the secret Objectivist Air Force of Katanga. Also, the SAAB Tunnans and other 1950s and 1960s planes flown by UN peacekeepers in the Kongo.
- Crossover: None so far, but several AH.com members who read the series suggested doing one with Mad Men.
- Deconstruction: Of Objectivism as a means of building a country.
- Egopolis: Rand's aptly named "Galtville" (after John Galt from Atlas Shrugged), formerly known as the Katangan city of Kolwezi. In a slight subversion, it's less about celebrating her and more about celebrating the ideology of Objectivism she created. An in-universe Shout-Out to the aforementioned novel is the statue of Atlas in the main square.
- The Evils of Free Will: An unusual variation-kind of an inversion, really-since Rand's new utopian community in Katanga objects to communal activities done in groups, even common group sports like football/soccer ! There is also little to no welfare and a POV character African worker notes that everything in shops is overpriced and sold along ruthlessly capitalist lines. Galtville and its surroundings take the whole "run according to Objectivist principles" thing very seriously.
- Fantastic Drug: Crystal Lites, which are amphetamine-laced cigarettes. And under the Objectivist regime, they're completely legal. Recollect that this was the era of Everybody Smokes, and Rand herself was a chain smoker (who died of lung cancer).
- For Want of a Nail: The start of the whole mess is a controversial sci-fi writer and a very cunning con artist recognizing Rand in a bar and giving her some tips on strategy, inadvertently giving her the idea to "start her own" (country). His name ? L. Ron freaking Hubbard!
- From Nobody to Nightmare: Much as in Real Life, Bob Denard used to be a washing machine salesman (though he did have some military experience before this).
- Ayn herself grows from an eccentric writer, to deranged dictator within a few years.
- Herr Doktor: Kurt Tank, though he is a tame and realistic example of this, being a highly skilled Real Life aviation engineer. He is eccentric and a bit full of himself, but is far from a Mad Scientist.
- Hired Guns: The famous mercenary Bob Denard and his crew, who become the backbone of Rand's security forces.
- Historical-Domain Character: Most of the cast are historical personalities from that era. Rand, Kurt Tank, L. Ron Hubbard, Dag Hammarskjold, Ernesto "Che" Guevara, Bob Denard, Alan Greenspan, etc. There are surprisingly few fictional characters when compared to other AH.com timelines and stories.
- Historical Hero Upgrade: The aforementioned Che Guevara comes off as a much nicer guy than he's generally regarded as by historians, though even the real Che would look good by comparison considering what he's up against and he's still shown to be rather nasty and violent compared to the more level-headed Patrice Lumumba. One thing that particularly stands out is how well he and the aforementioned Congolese political figure get along despite Che's well documented antipathy toward blacks, though spending time with the African resistance fighters may have caused him to have a change of heart.
- Insistent Terminology : They're mundanes, not slaves.
- Iron Lady: It's lampshaded that this short Russian lady was able to convince businessmen, economists and mercenaries to embark on this grand endeavor. By 1966, she's become the evil version.
- The Leader: Rand is literally referred to by this title in the mid-60s episodes.
- Mega Corp.: The Union Miniere de Haut Katanga (UMHK) which is stated to have its own private army to control the mines.
- People's Republic of Tyranny: Rand's supposedly utopian mini-country has some of these traits from the get go, but it seems to have gone pretty much full blown in the installments set chronologically later-of which we've only seen a few glimpses so far. Still, the very first episode blatantly shows that by 1966, Rand's utopia has morphed into a white supremacist totalitarian regime that uses modern slavery on the locals.
- Psycho for Hire: Bob Denard arguably counts.
- Shout-Out: "My name is Ernesto Guevara. Come with me if you want to live."
- Van Owen is a character borrowed from Warren Zevon's "Roland the Headless Thompson Gunner", a song about the real-life Congo Wars of the '60s.
- Slowly Slipping Into Evil: From kooky (if personally abusive to anyone who disagrees with her) writer to insane slave-owning dictator.
- Space Brasília / Zeerust: Galtville's architecture in a nutshell. Linkwerk even lampshades the name of the first trope by noting that some buildings in Galtville were designed by the same architect that worked on Brazil's new capital city.
- Start My Own: Essentially, Rand wants to start her own utopian city project in a resource rich African backwater and then move on to creating a whole utopian Objectivist country, which she can rule as her own personal dictatorship.
- Straw Character: Where to begin... Isn't one of the central tenets of Objectivism "I will never live for another man's sake, nor ask another man to live for mine"? Doesn't The Fountainhead call "the man who goes after power" the worst type of human being? How does one go from that to a dictatorship?
- In a similar manner as to how communist states do: the logic of the ideology eventually has an end different then that it's creators thought it would.
- Both that, and that remaining true to armchair principles in a real world situation spiraling out of your control is essentially impossible, especially if your philosophy tends to invite people who'd help cause the situation to spiral out of control. If you took an Objectivist Utopia out of the controlled fantasy of Rand's novels and placed it into the real world mess up that was Katanga, under the control of the already unstable and hypocritical Rand herself, it shouldn't be a surprise that it might not live up to its ideals.
- Took a Level in Badass: The UN is a more influential and powerful institution with a surviving Dag Hammersjkold. In first chapter, they are shown bombing the crap out of Galtville.
- You're Insane!: Pretty much everybody's response to Galtville.