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Literature / Cauldron

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Cauldron is a 1993 Possible War novel about another major continental European war written by Larry Bond in collaboration with Patrick Larkin. A worsening economic situation in early 90s Europe leads to a trade war and the unraveling of NATO. The continental juggernauts of France and Germany form the European Confederation (EurCon) in order to solidify their economic control of the continent. Their attempts to impose their influence on Eastern Europe lead to rapidly increasing tensions which finally break out into open war, threatening to drag the United States and Russia with them.

Tropes Appearing In This Novel Include:

  • Alternate History: A more violent attempt at unifying Europe compared to the Treaty of Maastricht that established the real-life European Union.
  • The Cavalry: American reinforcement by air and sea helps Poland hold the line at Danzig.
  • Cheese-Eating Surrender Monkeys: Averted. The French are shown as a genuinely formidable military threat.
  • Cool Plane: The French Rafale stealth capability and maneuverability give it an edge in the skies. The Americans have the supersonic B-1B Lancers and stealth F-117 Nighthawks, both of which devastate EurCon ground facilities.
  • Emergency Authority: Unrest caused by the deteriorating economic situation in Europe has forced a number of governments there to impose authoritarian measures.
  • False Flag Operation: A favorite tactic of the DGSE. The book opens with a bombing attack on a French-owned helicopter plant in Sopron, Hungary, which is staged to look like an attack by Hungarian nationalists and meant to give France more control over Hungary's economy. Later, the DGSE blow up an LNG tanker ship off the coast of Poland and try to make it look like either eco-terrorism or an accident, hoping to convince the Poles that importing fuel in violation of the French embargo is too dangerous.
  • The Federation: What the European Confederation’s main movers try to portray the organization. In practice, averted with the stranglehold the French and Germans have on the levers of power and with the methods they employ.
  • Fragile Speedster: The German Luchs and Polish BRDM scout vehicles may be fast, but do not hold up to enemy fire.
  • Government in Exile: Hungary’s Government of National Salvation find themselves in France after their ouster.
  • Gunboat Diplomacy: EurCon forces mass on Germany and Austria’s eastern borders in an attempt to force Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary to follow the confederation’s dictates.
  • Hegemonic Empire: Despite its claims to be The Federation, this is how EurCon actually works. France and Germany call all the shots, while the other members are little more than client states. Hungary's government in particular functions as little more than a face for French rule.
  • Home Guard: German reservists are called up as the fighting intensifies.
  • Kill Sat: The Brilliant Pebbles of the US GPALS (Global Protection Against Limited Strikes) system take out French and German reconnaissance satellites in the opening days of the war.
  • Macross Missile Massacre: An American convoy in the Baltic Sea suffers this from EurCon air attacks leading to the sinking of several ships.
  • The Mutiny: Hungary’s armed forces rebel after being ordered to attack the revolutionary government in Budapest.
    • German units refuse to obey orders and consider French units hostile after the Polish advance stalls.
  • Next Sunday A.D. / The '90s: Has exact dates in 1997-1998, a few years after the year the novel was published.
  • Nicknaming the Enemy: American troops refer to the French and Germans as “Frogs” and “Krauts”, respectively.
  • Nuke 'em: France attempts to launch nuclear-tipped cruise missiles to wipe out America’s North Sea carrier battle groups.
  • Puppet King: The French President is in fact controlled by his ministers, with Desaix most prominent among them.
  • Scenery Gorn: The descriptions of environments following artillery and air attacks.
  • Sea Mine: Used by both sides to significant effect in the Baltic Sea and English Channel.
  • Somebody Set Up Us the Bomb: A favorite of the DGSE operatives in the story, damaging a helicopter plant near Sopron in Hungary and destroying a shipyard in Gdansk by blowing up a liquid propane tanker.
  • Tank Goodness: The cutting-edge (at the time) French AMX-56 Leclerc, German Leopard 2, and American M1A2 duke it out on the battlefields of Poland, along with their less-advanced brethren.
  • United Europe: The goal of the heads of the European Confederation.
  • Villainous Valour: Demonstrated by Lt. Col. “Willi” Seelow.
  • War Refugees: As the situation in Poland worsens, the local civilian population is forced to flee the encroaching frontlines.