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Literature / Icarus Falls

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A rather dystopian alternate history work by AnywhereButOTL, posted on

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's Block. 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.
  • Apocalypse How: China gets subjected to a class 0 in a nuclear exchange with the USSR.
    • The Soviet republics of Central Asia also get a class when they get nuked in retaliation for siding with Kosygin in the Soviet Civil War.
  • Balkanize Me: Mongolia, Tibet, Uyghuristan, Manchuria, Guangdong, and Taiwan (the Republic of China) split up a large swath of China among themselves. Some of the splinter states (and a few neighboring countries to boot) gain unaccounted-for nuclear weapons in the process.
    • 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.
  • 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.
  • CIA Evil, FBI Good: Averted utterly. Both agencies are horribly corrupt and authoritarian, the FBI having been responsible for the unlawful detention and killings of thousands of (mostly black) citizens deemed "subversive", while the CIA sponsors Neo-Nazi terrorism and supports overseas dictatorships. Gets to ridiculous levels when the director of the CIA tries to launch a coup.
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  • Conditioned to Accept Horror: ROC troops serving on mainland China have to contend with mass starvation, biological warfare, and near-anarchy on a daily basis, and end up coping surprisingly well to the litany of horrors.
  • 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 Leonid 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, but only succeed in having the parliament building blow up with them and a large number of Italian policians being held hostage inside.
    • One is attempted against President Bush, but it fails to go as plan. The head of the coup, Donald Rumsfeld, ends up getting both of them blown up by a car bomb.
  • Crapsack World: And how.
    • A World Half Full: 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. Post civil war USSR is also on its way to becoming a more free and prosperous nation.
  • Downer Ending: The first part 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 the President.
  • 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 nuclear war, 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.
  • Gone Horribly Wrong: The Soviet Union attempts to stop the brewing war with China by assassinating Mao. Unfortunately, his successor ends up escalating the conflict to tragic results.
  • 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 '60s and The '70s.
  • Historical Villain Upgrade:
    • Lin Biao uses nuclear and chemical weapons against his own people to stop the Nationalist invasion.
    • Leonid Brezhnev also uses nuclear weapons against Soviet cities to try to win the Soviet Civil War.
    • Donald Rumsfeld becomes a major thorn during Bush's presidency. He tries to launch a coup against Bush and take control of the country's nuclear weapons.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: One character rigs a car to explode only to be taken hostage in said car, which explodes as planned.
  • Irony: The fact that 69, a number involving people getting screwed, is the number of the post where China gets screwed in their war.
  • Kill Sat: The United States launches one of these.
  • My Brain Is Big: A group of young Kurdish soldiers encounter a boy with this condition in a circus sideshow. Though whether it's a genuine example of this trope or simply a kid with hydrocephalus who happens to be extremely smart is unclear.
  • Nuclear Weapons Taboo: Unlike real life, nuclear weapons get used quite a bit throughout the twentieth century. The taboo was 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.
  • Obligatory War Crime Scene: Seemingly a never ending parade of these occur whenever the narrative puts focus on China after the Sino-Soviet nuclear exchange. Impalement of civilians and prisoners of war are only one of many gruesome atrocities carried out by the remnants of the communist government.
  • Police Brutality: Becomes a major plot point after Congress passes an anti-crime bill that greatly expands police power. The Woodstock festival ends in a riot that causes 29 deaths as police and FBI agents attack the crowd with tear gas and plastic bullets, arrests of suspicious looking black men without due process becomes routine, and most disturbingly, the police carry out extra-judicial killings estimated to number in the thousands. Naturally, once the story leaks, nationwide riots ensue.
  • Sanity Slippage: Happens, in rather tragic fashion, to President Bush. The increasing stress of managing a world that's on the brink 24/7 causes him to lose entire days of sleep and begin to abuse his power, constantly afraid that he's the only person capable of leading the nation.
  • 13 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...
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: A few of the altered Presidents fall under this.
    • 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 thousands 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.
    • President Bush slowly turns into this under the strain of trying to clean up the mess left by his predecessors. He eventually rigging the 1972 election and killing several people to cover it up.
  • 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.
  • Young Future Famous People: Bill Clinton, Al Gore, George W. Bush, and Vladimir Putin, among others, all make appearances in the timeline.


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