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Literature / The Second Renaissance

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''The Second Renaissance'' is a future timeline created by Sean McKnight, aka Ynot1989, which currently consists of a wiki and a number of maps on his DeviantArt account. The timeline is based George Friedman's 2009 book The Next 100 Year: A Forecast For The 21st Century, but with several alterations made to reflect changes that have occurred since the book was published (as well as instances of pure artistic license on the part of the writer). Broadly speaking, the timeline begins in the early 2020s when China faces an severe economic depression and Russia collapses into a number of smaller countries. This leaves the new major players in Eurasia as Poland, Turkey, and Japan. At first the United States is on friendly terms with all of these countries, but by the 2040s Japan and Turkey develop superpower ambitions of their own, putting them at odds with the United States. This results in a third World War in the 2050s, which the United States and its allies win, leaving the United States as the world's sole remaining superpower. . . or so it seems.

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In fact, all of this is only the prelude to the biggest challenge the United States faces in the second half of the 21st century. During this time, Mexico has also been developing as a world power, and wants to reclaim the territory the United States took from it. Allying themselves with Poland, they declare war on the United States, detonating a nuclear flare over Washington DC and invading in force from orbit. The timeline is supplemented by maps, biographies, and even articles on contemporary popular culture from the various periods that it covers.


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Tropes

The Second Renaissance contains the following tropes:

  • Absent Aliens: Not so much absent as just not important. There are intelligent aliens in the setting, but none of them are on par with humanity in terms of technology and they don't figure a great deal into the timeline.
  • America Takes Over the World: More or less the premise, just as it was in Friedman's book.
  • Appropriated Appelation: Americans who openly enjoy Japanese culture during the war with Japan in the 2050s are nicknamed "Honda Hippies". It starts out as an insult, but many of them eventually use the phrase with pride.
  • Asshole Victim: Oscar Lachman is a thoroughly despicable President, authorizing the deportation of millions of Hispanic citizens from the United States just to improve the economy. It's hard to feel sorry for him when he's eventually shot and killed.
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  • Balkanize Me: Happens to a lot of countries in the 2020s, most notably Russia.
  • Butt-Monkey: Russia. They spend pretty much the whole time line being broken up, fought over, invaded, you name it.
  • The Battlestar: Despite their name, the American "battlestar" space stations are not this, but are simply armed orbital observation posts.
  • China Takes Over the World: Zigzagged. China starts out as a major rival to America during the Little Cold War, but suffers a severe economic downturn in the 2020s. They don't really recover until the 2060s, by which point they're under a new government with much closer ties to the United States. And by then, "taking over the world" isn't something they're interested in.
  • Cool Plane: McKnight is an aerospace engineer, and plenty of detail is given to the aircraft in the timeline. Probably the coolest is the F-51 Mustang II fighter from the Third Mexican-American War.
  • Cool Starship: The Zeus-class dreadnoughts. Also Pluto's moon Hydra, which is hollowed out and turned into a starship!
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: Humanity, arguably. It takes a century and a half of global wars and depressions on a scale never seen before, but the timeline ends with Earth unified at last—and looking likely to stay that way.
  • Easily Forgiven: Less than a decade after fighting the US in the World War III, Japan and Turkey are in the American sphere of alliance again.
  • Everything's Better with Dinosaurs: Avisaurs, which are genetically modified birds that have teeth and long bony tails, making them resemble dromaeosaurs.
  • Expanded States of America: Taken Up to Eleven. By the end of the timeline, the United States covers more or less the entire Anglosphere, plus all the territory seized from Mexico during the Third Mexican-American War.
  • First Contact: Happens in 2067, between humanity and an alien species called the K'lerin.
  • Flying Car: They're called "podcopters" here, and are pretty much an improvement of modern-day "drone taxi" concepts.
  • Giant Flyer: Thanks to Mars's low gravity, a number of giant birds and flying reptiles have been genetically engineered to live there. The biggest of them have wingspans of over 40 feet.
  • The Great Flood: It's not global and not caused (as far as we know) by any angry gods, but The Flood, which is what the melting o the world's icecaps in the 2020s and 2030s is called, definitely fits this trope in spirit.
  • The Great Politics Mess-Up: In-universe, anything written before the collapse of Russia qualifies.
  • Humans Are Special: The philosophy of Postnaturalism, which advocates things like geo-engineering and de-extinction as solutions to environmental problems.
  • Human Subspecies: Several arise as a result of genetic engineering and colonization of other planets.
  • Japan Takes Over the World: One of the major forces opposing the US in World War III.
  • Make the Bear Angry Again: Along with China, a resurgent Russia is one of America' chief rivals in the beginning of the timeline.
  • Memetic Badass: Liza Maheswaran, a soldier from World War III, is an in-universe example.
  • Mexico Called; They Want Texas Back: This is ultimately the driving force behind the second half of the timeline.
  • Middle Eastern Coalition: The other force opposing the US in World War III. Unusually for this trope, it's led by Turkey.
  • Nuclear Weapons Taboo: Averted. Nuclear weapons get used in several conflicts, mostly later on in the timeline.
  • Octopoid Aliens: The Tel'bn
  • Our Presidents Are Different: From the mid-21st century onwards, the Presidents of the United States become a lot more diverse. By the end of the timeline, several women, non-whites, and non-Christians have assumed the office.
  • Powered Armor: One of the most important tools in the militaries of the 21st and 22nd centuries.
  • President Evil: Might be debatable who should be called a "villain" here, but Oscar Lachman has shades of this trope. He deports millions of Mexicans out of the Southwestern United States, all in the name of bringing jobs back during an economic downturn, which ultimately leads to not one but two wars with Mexico.
  • Punny Name: Political cartoonist Manuel Tiperiter.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: The timeline had to be changed considerably following the election of Donald Trump.
  • Rock Beats Laser: A fairly literal example. The American space battle stations are taken out at the beginning of the Third World War by a barrage of rocks launched from the moon.
  • Second American Civil War: The Southwestern States, backed by a powerful Mexico, start a Second Civil War in an attempt to secede from the United States.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Two American military spacecraft are named Heinlein's Light and Tolkein's Quill.
    • The page on "virtuals"—basically VR video games— is nothing but Shout-Outs.
    • A famous space explorer is stated to have gone by the online username "shagrat86" when he was a teenager.
    • There's even one to Tetrapod Zoology, of all things. There's an in-universe book about how sapient aliens have an overwhelming tendency to be four-limbed, and it's mentioned that one of the people who read it had the last name Naish.
  • Space Is an Ocean: Averted. Some spacecraft still have naval names, though.
  • Species Lost and Found: Starting in the 2020s, cloning extinct animals becomes possible. Only as far back as the late Pleistocene, though.
  • Starfish Aliens: Most of the intelligent alien life contacted is of this variety. Some of them have four limbs like vertebrates on Earth, but any similarity ends there.
  • Venus Is Wet: Once it gets terraformed.
  • We Didn't Start the Billy Joel Parodies: One's been written. It covers the timeline from the 2016 election to the Third Mexican-American War.
  • World War Whatever: There are three possible "world wars" in the timeline, if you count the Korean Crisis (which may no longer be canon).
  • Zerg Rush: The Japanese attack on the American space battle stations in 2051 is basically this—they send a barrage of moon rocks to knock out the American orbiting battle stations.
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