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Literature / Green Antarctica

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Welcome to Antarctica, land of the Tsalal.
"They are the utter opposite of everything we know as civilization, yet are not savage. Rather, they are like a black mirror unto ourselves. As industrious, as clever, as restless and dynamic. They have taken my ship apart like a child's puzzle, meditating over each component, striving to duplicate and better the production. I curse the day that the wandering spirit sent men to sail the seven days. my heart, I feel fear, because now they know that we exist..."
Captain James Cook, July 1774, sometime after castration

A Dark Fic Alternate History from, written by its member D'Valdron. The story concerns a world that is to all appearances like ours, until Captain Cook discovers an enormous, technically sophisticated civilization in Antarctica that has been developing on its own, quite unaware of the rest of humanity. The people there are not friendly. The timeline starts with the colonization of a more livable Antarctica by a small group of swept-away prehistoric humans from Australia, and follows the development of society and technology on the southernmost continent. And a truly bizarre and often horrifying civilization it is...

Can be read here if you're a member of and here if you are not. Its overview on the wiki can be found here. For easier reading, said overview now comes with a handy chapter guide. (currently, it is still under construction, but should be finished soon).


This series contains examples of:

  • Affably Evil: The Hali culture. They'll invite you into their homes, politely respect your differences of opinion, and engage you in a discussion about the translated works of Charles Dickens. And then you find out that the Hali's hat is that of the Torture Technician. Even their women and children enjoy it as a recreational activity. As an example, Howard Philips relates the story of a Hali man he was talking to about Charles Dickens who, out of nowhere, suddenly revealed that he had sewn an enemy's face onto... somewhere unmentionable. The Yag (or at least, the Yag government officials) who captured the first Europeans to land in Antarctica also count, as they treated their "guests" relatively well, even letting them have their own dwellings. Meanwhile they, like all Yag, are necrophiles.
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  • Aliens Never Invented the Wheel: The Tsalal were able to develop gunpowder independently, but didn't have any practical guns until Captain Cook arrived. Instead, they focused on making rockets.
  • Alien Space Bats: Antarctica's climate is drastically different from Real Life, but nothing else about the world's climate or sea level is different from OTL. The author readily admits that this is a highly implausible scenario that exists only to set up the narrative.
  • The Alcoholic: The Ghault accidentally invented liquor and developed rituals about it.
  • The Alliance: The Southern Pact, an alliance of European and South American countries against the expansive Tsalal in Southern Cone.
  • Alternate History: You wouldn't want to live in this one!
  • Artistic Licence – Biology: Most Speculative Biology is rather well done, making use of obscure clades that lived in continents adjacent to Antarctica in the early Cenozoic. The same cannot be said for the "koalas", a type of carnivorous marsupial identical to the unrelated Australian variety (which mind you is a hyper-stupid herbivore with smooth teeth and brains) with parasitoid wasp-like breeding behaviours (unknown in mammals and unlikely to ever evolve due to how altricial their young are) that are transmitted via a baculum (marsupials and other non-placental mammals lack it, they are exclusive to placentals since they evolved from the epipubic bones more common in "archaic" mammals).
  • Australian Wildlife: A lot of Antarctica's wildlife is descended from Australian animals—and, true to the reputation of Australia, it's all incredibly dangerous.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: This happens repeatedly in Tsalal history. That's how Antarctica gets the way it does.
  • Beneath the Earth: The Tsalal created numerous subterranean settlements called sunken cities. Tcho-Tcho is the biggest sunken city, home to more than two million Tsalal, many unique species, and the oldest still-inhabited known human city.
  • Bestiality Is Depraved:
    • Some species of hive monkeys were bred specifically to use the females as concubines for the Tsalal.
    • The Ptahr are said to have a particularly... close relationship with their Shaghut mounts.
    • Part of the "taming" process for Gugs.
  • Bigfoot, Sasquatch and Yeti: The Gugs are gorilla-sized primates, and several colonies have been recorded in mountainous areas around the world, as well as the New York City subway.
  • Black Speech: Most Tsalal languages sound this to people from the outside world.
  • Blue-and-Orange Morality: The Tsalal civilizations in general have morals that are far removed from regular human beings'. The Hali engaging in torture as a leisure activity is one particularly terrifying example.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: One update of this timeline takes the form of the author roleplaying as a modern Tsalal member of an alternate version of, posting on an "ask me" thread.
  • But Not Too Foreign: Johnny Tsalal, a third-generation half-Tsalal who Hunter S. Thompson travels with. Hunter takes comfort in this.
  • Butterfly of Doom: Averted until around the 18th-19th century, when Europeans start venturing closer to Antarctica.
  • Call a Rabbit a "Smeerp": Averted. Antarctica actually has a surprisingly detailed ecology of unique animals. Most of them are based on the prehistoric animals native to Australia and South America, of which they are evolved forms, specialized to the insanely hostile Antarctic climate and ecosystem.
  • Call a Smeerp a "Rabbit": Several of the Antarctic animals are named after unrelated Outer World species, like the Wasp Weasel, a venomous, parasitic mammal.
  • Chupacabra: The Chupa/Shupa is a very obvious expy.
  • Church Militant: Several examples of Tsalal religious authorities that form a state within a state.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: Too many to count, but the Hali culture is the most infamous practitioner of this. And they do it For the Evulz.
  • Crapsack Continent: Antarctica is not a nice place at the best of times— and that's even before factoring in the Tsalal.
  • Crazy Survivalist: The Tsalal are an entire race of them. Having to eke out a living in a Death World is the reason why their way of life turned so horrifying.
  • Crippling Castration: Happens to James Cook, courtesy of the Tsalal.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: See the Hali's torture methods. The Ptahr sometimes douse exiles in female Shaghui urine and then send them out onto the plains, where the male Shaghut roam. Some other methods involving animals are being parasitized by a Southern Koala, or the "reverse kiss" of the Shupa.
  • Dark-Skinned Blond & Dark-Skinned Redhead: Because of their Australoid origins and about 40,000 years of social selection preferring black skin, Tsalal skin tones are as dark as humanly possible. Hair colors show more variety, but those redheads are quite rare.
  • Death World: Even without the sociopathic populations in which murder, rape, cannibalism, and worse are normalized, and not counting the native wildlife (see Everything Trying to Kill You below), Antarctica still gets cold enough in winter to kill anyone unlucky enough to be left outside.
  • Drop Bear: The Southern Koala is this, with some flavoring of Xenomorphs. A dreaded taboo creature even for the Tsalal.
  • Even Evil Has Standards:
    • The Nightmare Children, Child Soldiers who were raised to be complete and utter psychopaths from birth, were viewed as horrific and cruel even by the Tsalal.
    • The Cold Islanders' totalitarianism and penchant for mad science have made them pariahs among all the other Tsalal civilizations.
  • Everyone Is Bi: More like "Everyone of the Tsalal is bi, if it's a way of degrading your inferiors or their dead bodies (depending on your culture)". Especially if the body's going to be part of the buffet that night.
  • Everything Trying to Kill You: The native lifeforms of Antarctica are just plain nasty. There are the Gugs, ants that shoot fire, giant platypi that have evolved to be similar to crocodilians, and a kind of small mammal whose bite sends humans into comas. It's like Australia 2.0. And that's not counting all the other humans trying to kill you and each other in horrible ways.
  • Eviler Than Thou: The other Tsalal consider the Cold Islanders to be this for reasons that an outsider would consider trivial, such as wearing the color white. And being obsessed with creating "Remade Men".
  • Explosive Breeder: The "Devils". They've been described as piranhas crossed with wolverines, and were imported into China in 1895 to combat rat infestations. By 1936, their population had skyrocketed, leading to large parts of Shanghai being firebombed to destroy the swarm. It's been theorized that the government never fully exterminated them, and a mega-swarm is predicted to break out around 2012-2014.
  • Feathered Fiend: Antarctic teratorns are two-hundred-pound acid-spewing, horn-tufted killer birds with faces sort of like a big cat, a tiger or lion, except with a jagged beak instead of a muzzle.
  • Filk Song: There is an In-Universe version of the Real Life Irish rebel song "Skibbereen", about the Irish genocide at the hands of the Tsalal instead of British oppression, that can be seen as an example of this trope.
    My son, I loved my native land with energy and pride
    Till the dark and terrible day came when our emerald isle died
    When the blood and gore spilt by the Tsalal stained the heather green
    And that's the cruel reason why I left old Skibbereen.
  • God Is Evil: The central tenet of the Zhu religion: God, or "The Malevolent", as they call him, has singled out the Zhu for torment, and the only way to fight back is to band together and destroy the demons God sends after them— which in practice means everyone else. In modern times, this last part seems to have been discarded in favor of something close to secular humanism, if Chal Lovegrove's AMA is any indication.
    • Another tenet of the Zhu religion is that, while the afterlife isn't any better, a good Zhu can hope for the opportunity to be reunited with their ancestors and join in what's essentially an armed insurrection in hell.
  • Hope Spot: The first Yag culture was one of the nicest Tsalal civilizations around, despite their penchant for Human Sacrifice. They had advanced technology, had a proto-democratic system of government, and abstained from cannibalism. Then Urtulu destroyed the Water Kings' dams, causing a great flood that destroyed the settlements of the First Yag. There were survivors, but the "civilized" Yag were gone, replaced with the brutal necrophiliacs that would later form the great Yag empires.
  • Horde of Alien Locusts: If the Dragon Islanders can be considered "alien" enough to the rest of the Tsalal. They definitely fit the "consume everyone and everything" part.
  • Horrifying the Horror: The Antarctic koala terrifies even the Tsalal. It wasn't them who exported it to the rest of the world, even they know better.
  • Horse of a Different Color: The Tsalal use the native animals of Antarctica as beasts of burden and rides, ranging from the sloth-like Shaghui to the multi-trunked Astropotheres and the insectoid Mothbeasts.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: Cannibalism is fairly common among the Tsalal, with the exception of the Yag.
  • In Spite of a Nail: Something happened that Antarctica didn't got completely frozen like in OTL. Yet world history still went on exactly the same until the Tsalal got into the picture, by pure accident.
  • I Love the Dead: The Yag culture.
  • In the Original Klingon: Tsalal claim Charles Dickens as one of them.
  • Introduced Species Calamity: Pretty much any Antarctic species that makes it to the rest of the world becomes horribly invasive, some of them managing to thrive even in the tropics. Interestingly, it seems to not work the other way, since while rats, pigs, and dogs have been introduced to Antarctica, the native wildlife is more than a match for them.
    • Devils were introduced to China to control rat populations, unfortunately, by 1936, their population had skyrocketed, leading to large parts of Shanghai being firebombed to destroy the swarm. It's been theorized that the government never fully exterminated them, and a mega-swarm is predicted to break out around 2012-2014.
    • Hive monkeys have displaced raccoons and other small-to-medium sized omnivores in North America, and are capable of killing humans.
    • Gugs have established populations in the Alps and the sewers of New York.
    • Southern koalas have infested and caused the depopulation of large portions of the Amazon, Congo, and Southeast Asia. They can survive in the tropics, it just makes them more aggressive.
    • Likewise with wasp-weasels, a venomous mammal that some people theorize were deliberately introduced as biological terrorism.
    • Fire ants (that is, ants that can start small fires) have been introduced to other continents, where they cause wildfires.
  • Invading Refugees: All the time. The Tsalal live in a Crapsack World, so when things get slightly worse, they usually respond by migrating to a different part of Antarctica and making war on the people there.
    • The Zhu's ethnogenesis was their invasion by the Qys, who forced them to flee in boats on and become the Sea Peoples/Vikings of Antarctica. The "Suffering Path" became an integral part of their religion, and the Qys (by then extinct) were mythologized into demons sent by god to destroy the Zhu.
    • Iskr, the King in Yellow, united hordes of refugees fleeing the Zhu to overthrow the settled Hali and found the kingdom of Carcosa.
    • The Starvation Army was formed by an alliance of Dragon Islanders fleeing famine in their home islands, and laid waste to pretty much everyone else, all while constantly starving and culling their own forces. The combination of wars, famine, and societal collapse eventually led to the death of at least 75% of the population of Antarctica.
    • After learning about the outside world, the 1816 eruption of Mount Tambora disrupted Tsalal society profoundly, as they felt like the world was ending a second time — but this time they had somewhere to flee to. The refugees ended up conquering Chile and Argentina, the Southern Island of New Zealand, and part of Western Australia (and settling in large numbers in South Africa).
  • Kangaroos Represent Australia: The Sicaripods, kangaroo-like marsupials with deadly claws on their feet. They come in different sizes, from small mouse-like critters to man-sized beasts.
  • Killer Rabbit: The Kuddly Kritter or Tsalal Koala looks like a big Australian Koala Bear and is one of the nastiest species from Antarctica.
  • Knight Templar: Most Tsalal religions are very dogmatic.
  • Land of One City: During the 19th century, Argentina is reduced to Greater Buenos Aires.
  • Luke Nounverber: The Tsalal have a mythological hero whose title is "the childraper".
  • Matriarchy: The Ghault. Since their women were forbidden from drinking alcohol while pregnant, they tended to outnumber the menfolk, who had a bad habit of dying young from violence. As a result, they tended to assume high positions of authority. The result was an inflexible, conservative culture ruled by Witch Queens, several of whom would rival Hali's Kings in Yellow in their viciousness and cruelty.
  • Merchant City / Vice City: Buenos Aires becomes a major hub of all kinds of trade between the Tsalal of the Southern Cone and the northern powers.
  • More Deadly Than the Male: Ghault and Tcho-Tcho women have a repute among Tsalal as being strong-willed and aggressive.
    That had been the great shock of the Ghault, Khrr mused. The women, forthright, confident, even aggressive, with such a sense of their own self possession. A Ghault wife was a terrifying and arousing prospect, a promise of unfathomable marital ecstasies and unceasing domestic battle.

    Indeed, the attitudes of the Ghault women seemed to seep into Tcho women, leaving them a restive lot. Khrr was not sure he liked this development, but certainly it made the world more interesting.
  • My Species Doth Protest Too Much: To some extent, Chal Lovegrove, the Tsalal interviewed in "Ask Me About Tcho-Tcho!". While he's quick to defend the Tsalal people from the flak it gets from the rest of the modern world, he still considers cannibalism and torture to be abhorrent, and has even joined an Anti-Cannibalism League that persuaded many restaurants to take Human Resources off the menu.
  • Mysterious Antarctica: Played with, in that the dread factor is increased by greater knowledge about it.
  • More Teeth than the Osmond Family: The Devils, lampshaded in-series.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast:
    • The first King in Yellow, Iskr, has the sobriquet of "the Childraper".
    • One later Tsalal civilization is named "the Necrophile Empire".
  • Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: The author described the Flayermen as "sort of like Nazi Pedophile Vampire Ninja, except unfriendly and evil".
  • Oedipus Complex: In times of famine, it's perfectly acceptable in Tsalal culture for a boy to kill and eat his father, and then take his mother and sister as his wives. That is assuming his father doesn't do it first. And of course it be perfectly acceptable in Tsalal culture for a daughter to kill her own mother and take her brother and father as her husbands as well.
  • People Zoo: Irish in Tsalal zoos are quite popular.
  • Phallic Weapon: Southern koalas have a venomous barb evolved from the penis bone.
  • Planet of Hats: A rare one world example. All the major Tsalal cultures have defining traits.
  • Polar Madness: On a societal level for the Tsalal. Their Blue-and-Orange Morality is the product of the Death World they find themselves in, with the bitter cold, deadly fauna and othe Tsalal cultures. It's taken Up to Eleven with the Cold Islanders, who all of the mainland Tsalal are terrified of.
  • Powered by a Forsaken Child: The Tsalal use children as guidance systems for their bigger rockets and space program. They don't understand why the Northerners are so upset about it.
  • Prison Rape: The Ptahr culture is built on it. Ironically, the same culture also lacks real prison.
  • Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil: Not to the Tsalal, particularly the Ptarh and the Yag.
  • Rule of Scary
  • Schizo Tech: The Tsalal discover things like coal mining, rocketry, and domesticated monkeys way, way ahead of time. Guns, not so much.
  • Schmuck Bait: BY THE WAY, DO NOT READ POST 1515
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: Howard Phillips' Flayerman mask.
  • Shadowland: Antarctica is this to Europe.
  • Sewer Gugs: During a 2014 radio Q&A about invasive species, Dr. Jarrod Aseneskak is asked about the possibility of Gugs living in the New York sewer system. He explains that there was one who survived down there for about a month back in the 1960's, but it died. Nowadays, with so many cameras, it'd be impossible for them to survive down there undetected. Except he's wrong. There are whole families of Gugs who've made their home in the New York sewer, disguising themselves as homeless people with hats and overcoats. And there have been many cases of missing pets and persons attributed to them...
  • Shout-Out / Homage:
  • Slave Race: The Gugs are a a kind of eusocial gorilla-sized monkeys that drag their prey underground, rip their legs off so they can't get away, keep them alive so they can "use" (rape) them, and then eventually eat them. However, the Tsalal have found a way to domesticate them. This involves the Gug master wearing the skin of a Gug king, castrating the young males, and raping and beating them daily to show them who's boss. They are used in both mine labor, and as shock troops. They are also smart enough to use human tools and weapons.
    • It's strongly implied that the Tsalal reduced the Irish, in whole or in part, to this.
  • Snow Means Death: The Tsalal attitude, and why they fear the color white. Justified by the long, deadly, and very snowy winter, as well as the massive, uninhabitable glaciers in some antarctic regions.
  • Spring-Heeled Jack: In an In-Universe Sherlock Holmes story, Sherlock and Watson discover that "Jack" is a sicaripod wearing clothes and with an amputated tail.
  • Torture Technician: The Hali have raised torture to an art form, and practice it as a hobby. Hali families even participate in this as a family outing, torturing animals or outsiders.
  • Totalitarian Utilitarian: The Cold Islanders subscribe to a particularly extreme version of utilitarianism, where a person only matters so far as what he can contribute to society. Those who are judged to be unable to contribute are enslaved, considered merely tools and Human Resources that those who rule over them can use as they please.
  • These Are Things Man Was Not Meant to Know:
    • Tsalal art can be disturbing. Extremely.
    • For the Tsalal, the glacier at the center of Antarctica is so evil that they refuse to give it a name, and some groups refuse to ever see it, since it is considered to be the source of all suffering and death.
  • Weaponized Animal: The Starvation Army set animals on fire and sent them towards their victim/enemy's camp, burning it and leaving them in disarray while they swooped in to slaughter everyone.