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A common feature of alternate histories where the point-of-divergence is far enough back is that a Mayincatec
civilization has somehow survived to the present day, and now rules a large chunk of the Americas.
Like Zeppelins from Another World
, generally done as a throwaway "Look how different this world is" detail, without any serious or detailed consideration of how it happened or what the geopolitical effects were. (Possibly correlated with alternate worlds where the technology level never got high enough for zeppelins.)
Incidentally, in Real Life
, there are pockets of Mayans, Aztecs and Incans who still practice their old traditions - while the ruling class were deposed, not all of the peasants were completely assimilated.
If it's the focus of the story, subtrope of Alternate History Wank
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- One story in Tom Strong has an expansionist interdimensional "Aztech" Empire. When the Spaniards first arrived at their shores, they were waiting with machine guns.
- The Tintin comic albums The Seven Crystal Balls and Prisoners Of The Sun feature a tribe of modern-day Incas as the main antagonists. They live in the Temple of the Sun, which is much like a Hidden Elf Village in the Andes Mountains, and the non-Incan Peruvians fear them enough to obey their commands.
- Paperinik New Adventures has shown travel from the main timeline to an alternative one with the point of divergence being ancient Evronians land in the Americas a few thousand years ago and teaching science to the natives, with the end result including both the Aztec and the Incan Empires surviving to the present day and controlling respectively Central and South America.
- Marvel Zombies 3 features the one-off Captain Mexica, from an alternate universe where this happened. His shield has a calender design.
- In Charmed Life by Diana Wynne Jones, it's mentioned during the history lesson that the Incas still dominate North America.
- The Lord Darcy series by Randall Garrett features one of sorts, though it's subject to the Angevin (Anglo-French) empire, but still retains some independence.
- Quest Crosstime by Andre Norton. The Crossroads of Time, to which Quest Crosstime is a sequel, also briefly mentioned a hybrid Celtic-Germanic-Mayincatec civilization.
- The Mask of the Sun by Fred Saberhagen.
- In A Midsummer Tempest by Poul Anderson, a crosstime traveller mentions having recently visited a world like this.
- One of the virtual reality settings in Otherland is a modern Inca empire.
- In The Case of the Toxic Spell Dump by Harry Turtledove, Spain didn't colonize America until considerably later than in our world. So there's an Aztec empire (with a thin veneer of Spanishness) in the place of Mexico, and all the Spanish names in the southwestern United States are in English (the protagonist lives in Angels City; the spell dump of the title is in St. Ferdinand's Valley; and so on...)
- Cat-A-Lyst by Alan Dean Foster.
- While not "modern" (Napoleonic wars) Temeraire has the South American empires fending off conquistadors with their firebreathing dragons and surviving.
- In Pastwatch: The Redemption of Christopher Columbus, by Orson Scott Card, the Tlaxcala apparently took over the world in a previous iteration of the world's history. The people of that timeline apparently considered it such a catastrophe in the long run, they changed history (and prevented themselves from ever existing) to avoid it.
- According to the book, this is due to them being more willing to adopt European technology and warfare than their Aztec enemies (whom they have wiped out by the time they first encountered Europeans).
- This is only part of the reason. The other reason is Columbus leading another Crusade, resulting in Europe being in no shape to resist an invasion from overseas.
- And in the end, the time travellers make Zapotecs and Caribs found a more peaceful one.
- One of the parallel worlds described in Vasili Golovachov's novel The Envoy features a Modern Mayincatec Empire that has taken over most of the world. They have been unable to conquer Africa due to Africans banding together in a similar manner to resist foreign occupation. It is notable that martial arts are virtually unknown in this world. A high-caste group of warrior telepaths have developed their own system of hand-to-hand combat, relying on their telepathy to allow them to gain the upper hand.
- In The Time Of The Sixth Sun series by Thomas Harlan: Japanese exiles fleeing a successful Mongol invasion of the islands, settle in America and introduce horses and steel to the New World, leading eventually to the dominance of the Nippon-Méxica empire. IN SPACE!.
- "The Bison Riders" by Brad Linaweaver depicts an alternate history where the Aztecs survived and started fighting the North American plains Indians. It was first published in Tales From the Great Turtle, a collection of short stories with a native theme (compiled by Piers Anthony).
- In The Aztec Century by C. D. Evans, Cortez, instead of conquering the Aztecs, married an Aztec woman and switched sides, giving the Aztecs advanced technology that, now, means they are a world superpower, conquering much of the world.
- In Doc Sidhe, Ish is a princess from a Fantasy Counterpart Culture of a Modern Mayincatec Empire that is still fighting a guerrilla war against the colonial powers.
- The backstory and The Reveal of Russian novel Everyone Able to Bear Arms by Andrey Lazarchuk is about this. In the "correct" timeline there have been no wars since early 20th century, science developed rapidly and Time Travel has been discovered. Then some romantics traveled to the 4th century CE to save Mesoamerican civilizations from extermination. In the Alternate Timeline Maya have conquered the world (whether by assimilation or extermination isn't mentioned) and greatly advanced in science and technology — up to spaceships and beyond. Then in the 21st century the timelines merged and Mayan warriors — amazingly competent and merciless — started massacring their new neighbors. The survivors escaped to the past and started creating alternate timelines to invent something warlike and advanced enough to defeat Maya. Our world is one of the intermediate stages, the novel is set where Hitler died in a plane crash, Nazi conquered most of European USSR, abandoned racist ideology and continued arms race against Allies (Expanded States of America and Siberia) and Japan. With fist-sized nuclear bombs, infrasonic cannons and Jet Pack Powered Armor by 1990. Oh, and the author's signature style is Mind Screw-y Black Comedy.
- Not quite "modern" but the "Azteks" still have an empire, or at least a country, circa about the late 19th century in Brandon Sanderson's alternate universe YA steampunk fantasy The Rithmatist.
- The city of Quechal in Max Gladstone's Two Serpents Rise is a Fantasy Counterpart Culture of this. Although it's not an empire so much as a Magitek version of a 21st century capitalist city-state—the old religion and its practice of Human Sacrifice were overthrown and replaced with the secular Craft discipline of magic.
- GURPS. In Alternate Earths, one of the alternate realities was Ezcalli, a world dominated by the Tenocha Empire (a heavy updating of the Aztec Empire, set in 1840). In Alternate Earths II, the 15th century Midgard setting included human-sacrificing Mixtecs.*
- The main setting of the otherwise pretty much forgotten tabletop game Mecha was one where a Mayincatec civilization obliterated the Conquistadors - because they were given giant robots by aliens to act as their 'champions'.
- The Empire Of The Petal Throne has future Mayaintec, after a nuclear war put the USA and USSR and Europe down for the count, as the backstory.
- In Shadowrun, the nation of Aztlan styles itself a reborn Aztec empire that rules a large chunk of Latin-America and the southwestern United States with the 'aid' of the Aztechnology corporation. Subverted as the splatbooks make clear it's a corporate image thrown together for the purposes of creating a nationalist identity to control the masses (complete with a Path of Inspiration-style facsimile of old Aztec and Mayan religion): Most of the Aztlan elite are no stripe of Mayincatec but of pure Spanish descent, and the mestizos and indigenos remain a marginalized working class.
- In the Steampunk fantasy setting Castle Falkenstein the Mayans got magical advance notice of the coming of the Spanish, enabling them to preserve a fair degree of autonomy as a Spanish ally and protectorate. The Incas used powerful magic and alien supertechnology to annihilate would-be conquerors.
- In Rise of Nations the Mayans, Aztecs, and Incas all get special versions of modern units.
- Some Civilization games let you become one of these yourself. When the AI is playing one of the native American civilizations, results are more mixed: the Inca and Maya tend to last and even do well, but the Aztecs tend to be too aggressive for their own good, and whichever North Americans they've decided to include tend to just get rolled over early on or decline into increasing irrelevance. It gets weirder when you see Montezuma in the modern days, wearing a suit and tie, claiming he'll sacrifice warriors to the friendship of the nation he's talking to. Not much weirder than Ieyasu ordering his people to commit Seppuku when they invade your territory by accident, the backdrop of it being a very cosmopolitan Tokyo, granted.
- The tutorial campaign of Empire Earth II follows the Aztec Empire through an alternate history where it wins against the conquistadors, establishes an independent nation, helps the Americans defeat the British, and ends up fighting a war with a fascist Inca Empire in the 1930s.
- In the obscure RTS game Theocracy, the player leads and manages a fictional meso-american empire as it goes to war against other such tribal nations and towards the end, the invading Spanish. If the player beats the game, the ending cinematic shows that the player's empire has survived Twenty Minutes into the Future, and observes a bustling modern city (bordering on cyberpunk) with architecture and clothing styles clearly based on ancient meso-american culture but full of skyscrapers, high-tech cars, and holograms.
- The Nocturnus from Sonic Chronicles.
- Surviving or fighting back as any South American or Mezoamerican state in the Europa Universalis series is the oldest Self-Imposed Challenge related to the game.
- Implied in the Sunset Invasion Alternate History DLC for Crusader Kings 2, where the Aztec Empire formed early, and was able to invade Western Europe.
- Clarified in The Old Gods (the result of a Viking ship getting very lost and captured), and then allowed to continue if you use the converter with SI enabled for Europa Universalis IV.
- Aztec Wars is set in an Alternate History where the Aztecs have crossed the Atlantic before Christopher Columbus's arrival, then proceeded to conquer Africa and nearly all of Europe with their Steampunk army.
- Ilivais X opens with this, with the result being a massive Lensman Arms Race in which the Spanish and Aztecs conquer their entire hemispheres, create space colonies in the 1700s, and start fighting in Humongous Mecha a few decades after our time. The Aztecs are portrayed as being fairly quirky for an empire, while the Iberians only have a few named characters and have a generally cold and bland feel.
- There is a timeline in the Althistory wiki called simply as Aztec Empire, in which the Aztecs defeat Cortez and fearing another invasion, modernized and survived through the present day. The Incas do the same and is the rival empire of the Aztecs.