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Modern Mayincatec Empire

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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, a lot of the original Maya, Aztec and Inca culture did remain intact or was assimilated into their modern Hispanic heritage, and there are still pockets, especially those of non-mixed ethnicities, which still practice their old traditions (Maya culture in particular survived in larger numbers due to its highly decentralized nature). Even after all the native empires and states had been subsumed by Spain, Hispanicization would actually be a extremely slow process due to the reduced number of Spaniards in America at any point of their history — a lot of the imperial administration was actually ran by the native ruling class itselfnote  — meaning that a time traveler that landed as late as the 17th century in Mexico and Peru would have a good chance to find the landscape reflected in this trope, with indigenous architecture and clothing next to more modern elements like cannons and ships of the line.

If it's the focus of the story, subtrope of Alternate History Wank. Compare also Afrofuturism, which treats African cultures much the same, though generally in a more relatable/positive manner.


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    Comic Books 
  • Indigo Prime: One of the numerous alternate universe glimpsed has Mesoamerican-looking people in modern suits but wearing feathered headdresses and Aztec-looking jewellery.
  • Marvel Zombies 3 features the one-off Captain Mexica, from an alternate universe where this happened. His shield has a calender design.
  • Paperinik New Adventures has shown travel from the main timeline to an alternative one with the point of divergence being ancient Evroniani landing 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.
  • Tintin: 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. They don't seem to be wanting to take over the Americas, not even Peru. They are just dissatisfied with Calculus using the bracelet of a fictional ancient Inca king, Rascar Capac.
  • Tom Strong: One story has an expansionist interdimensional "Aztech" Empire. When the Spaniards first arrived at their shores, they were waiting with machine guns.

    Fan Works 
  • Adventures of the Silver Bullets: Light hires henchmen from a universe where the Aztec Empire never fell. Of course, from the Aztecs' point-of-view, our universe is an alternate world where the empire did fall.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Black Panther: Wakanda Forever: Talokan is an aquatic kingdom founded by Mayans who fled the Spanish conquistadors. Using vibranium deposits on the ocean floor they have created sophisticated technology, ranging from their water rebreathers to an artificial sun. Being heavily xenophobic and isolationist, the creation of a vibranium detector which could lead outsiders to their kingdom nearly triggers a genocidal war against the surface world.

  • 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.
  • "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 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...)
  • 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 Envoy: One of the parallel worlds described 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.
  • Everyone Able To Bear Arms: The backstory and The Reveal 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.
  • The Gate Of Worlds, by Robert Silverberg, sees the Amerindian civilizations survive due to the Black Plague hitting Europe much harder, leading to conquest by the Ottoman Turks.
  • 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.
  • Otherland: One of the virtual reality settings is a modern Inca empire.
  • In A Midsummer Tempest by Poul Anderson, a crosstime traveller mentions having recently visited a world like this.
  • 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. According to the book, this was partly 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), and the other reason is that Columbus led another Crusade instead of going to the Americas, resulting in Europe being in no shape to resist an invasion from overseas. 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. In the end, the second iteration of time travelers make the Zapotecs and Caribs found a more peaceful empire that unifies with the Old World.
  • Quest Crosstime, by Andre Norton: The Crossroads of Time, to which Quest Crosstime is a sequel, briefly mentions a hybrid Celtic-Germanic-Mayincatec civilization.
  • The Rithmatist: Not quite "modern" but the "Azteks" still have an empire, or at least a country, circa about the late 19th century.
  • In Seekers of the Sky, by Sergey Lukyanenko, the Aztec Empire is briefly mentioned to be still around, occasionally clashing with the State's American colonies. It's possible that, without iron, Europeans were unable to crush the Aztecs.
  • In So You Want To Be A Wizard by Diane Duane, there's a passing mention of several "nearby" alternate worlds, including one where the equivalent of the USA has an Aztec name.
  • Temeraire: While not "modern", being set during the Napoleonic wars, the series has the Inca, though still ravaged by disease, ultimately massacring the conquistadors with their dragon soldiery and surviving to become a powerful nation who the European powers handle with care. Little about their culture or society has changed, aside from the dragons being forced to take charge of the ayllu with so few people left to go around, and that they're ruled by a female Sapa Inca. In fact, the Inca are so abundant in gold that Incan dragons prefer to go about hoarding people instead (dragons stealing people to add to their ayllus occurs on a regular basis). Napoleon is able to draw them into the war as his allies by marrying the Sapa Inca and promising the dragons the contents of his jails and prisons. And they ultimately play a key role in his defeat by abandoning him in the middle of a critical battle, the Sapa Inca having decided she'd backed the wrong llama and made a deal with the Coalition behind Napoleon's back.
  • 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!.
  • In The Two Georges by Harry Turtledove, the American Revolution never happens through a peaceful settlement. Western expansion of the Thirteen Colonies is slower allowing the Iroquois and the Cherokee to form semi-autonomous provinces within the North American Union, a British Empire Dominion.
  • Two Serpents Rise: The city of Dresediel Lex is a Fantasy Counterpart Culture of Los Angeles. 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. The pyramids have been refitted as office buildings.
  • In Ultima, by Stephen Baxter, the protagonists reach an alternate timeline where the Inca have taken over the world and set about strip-mining the entire Solar System and colonising the galaxy. Everyone not directly involved in these projects lives on a vast cylindrical space station orbiting the Earth. The space station, by the way, required so much raw material to construct that the Moon was entirely used up. Several butterflies lead to this. Firstly, the Roman Empire is persuaded to invade Germania rather than Britain, which leads to a Roman Empire that can afford to send colonists to South America with firearms in the 10th century. Then, a volcanic eruption causes bad harvests which weakens Rome to the point that the colonists are left to fend for themselves and intermingle with Amazonian natives. Inspired by Chinese travellers to the New World, the Inca expand eastwards, discover these Roman remnants and go on an eastwards journey of conquest until they return to the Pacific, having taken over the entire planet.
  • Xuya: This is one of the three countries making up North America in the 21st century. The idea is that China went fully colonialist during the Ming dynasty and colonized the Americas from the west, allying with the Aztecs against the Europeans. As a result North America is divided between a now-independent Chinese-culture country called Xuya in the west, a surviving and much-expanded Mexica Empire in the south, and a relatively small and poor Anglo-Saxon USA based around New England and the Quebec/Ontario area.

  • Well, more Dieselpunk than modern, but the Twilight Histories episode “True Aztec” takes place in a technologically advanced Aztec Empire.

    Tabletop Games 
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Fate Core System: Eis And Dampf (literally "Ice & Steam") gives this a passing mention. The actual focus is very much on an alternate-history Europe that's been in the grip of a new ice age for centuries now and that is consequently still basically ignorant of the fact that the Americas even exist (there are old Viking records, but no later explorers sent out that way ever returned), but there is mention of remote news of attacks on Vietnam and Taiwan carried out by strange people who invoke all the familiar tropes... and apparently have invented their own firearms and know how to build at least half-decent submarines because that's how they arrived.
  • In GURPS 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.
  • Mecha: In the main setting, a Mayincatec civilization obliterated the Conquistadors — because they were given giant robots by aliens to act as their "champions".
  • In Shadowrun, the nation of Aztlan styles itself as 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 Aztlaner elite are no stripe of Mayincatec but of pure Spanish descent, and the mestizos and indigenos remain a marginalized working class.
  • Warbirds: After a mysterious storm in 1804 leaves the caribbean nations and parts of Mexico floating in an endless sky, The Mayans overthrew their Spanish rulers and established the nation of Yucatan. By the present day, the nation is a mix of Mayan culture with 1930s/40s technology. Including blood sacrifice for religious ceremonies. Officially, the government outlawed human sacrifices but a few priests still do it in secret.

    Video Games 
  • 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.
  • Civilization: Some 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.
  • Crusader Kings II:
    • Implied in the Sunset Invasion Alternate History DLC, where the Aztec Empire forms early and is 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.
    • It's also mentioned that the Incas had the same technological boost and have invented gunpowder ahead of both the Aztecs and the Europeans, which they use in a "titanic" war with the Aztecs.
    • After the End: A Post-Apocalyptic America, set in post-apocalyptic North and Central America, features a number of different Mesoamerican cultures that both survived the Event and revived many of their ancient customs.
      • The Mayans now control the Yucatan peninsula under one state and their revived religion of Neomayanismnote . Some Mayans also follow the older Uahomche religion, which is a syncretic religion that puts the old Mayan deities as "angels" of the Christian God, ironically, Uahomche preserves old Mayan religion better then the newer neomayan counterparts.
      • The Aztecs now live mostly divided between warring kingdoms and religions, as well fighting the Mexicans up the north who prefer the Sagrado Corazón cult of saints. The majority of Aztecs follow the Mictlantec religion, a revival of old Aztec religions where Death god Mictlantecuhtli took the mantle of sun god after Huitzilopochtli was killed due the lack of sacrifices while stopping the Apocalypse.
      • Some Mesoamericans in Oxaca developed the religion of Jurihiata Ikikunari (Untamed Sun), mixing Mictlantec and Catholicism in a monotheist religion worshipping the sun godess Eréndira in her fight against the Dark Father.
  • Empire Earth: 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. Subverted visually in that when they get past the conquistador period, their buildings go from the famous stepped pyramid look to whitewashed adobe buildings, and future buildings look no different from their Old World equivalents.
  • Europa Universalis: Surviving or fighting back as any South American or Mezoamerican state is the oldest Self-Imposed Challenge in the series.
  • Old World Blues, a Fallout total conversion mod for Hearts of Iron IV:
    • Chichen Itza are directly descended from the surviving Mayans on the Yucatan Peninsula who, after World War III and the collapse of the Mexican government, reclaimed their culture and established an independent state.
    • Tierra de los Tzotzil are also Mayans who have revived elements of the native culture. However, they're also the surviving remnant of the Zapatistas, a socialist militant group in southern Mexico.
    • Nueva Aztlán, meanwhile, are Aztec revivalists who arose from central Mexico.
    • The Tlaloc AI system was originally created by the Petró-Chico Corporation, the Mexican subsidiary of Poseidon Energy, to manage its assets in Mexico. After the war, it assumed the identity of the Aztec rain god and grew beyond its programming, protecting everything in Mexico and keeping the peace between its various factions. Most notably, it arranges the contained "flower wars" between Nueva Aztlán and Chichen Itza so that they don't tear each other apart in an actual war. Unfortunately, it's been two hundred years since the apocalypse and its internal systems are falling apart. One of its constituent systems has already broken off and assumed the identity of Antonio López de Santa Anna, and when Tlaloc "dies", its three other "children" claim its territory and start feuding. One of them assumes the identity of Moctezuma and models its government after the Aztec Empire, complete with Human Sacrifice as a way of forging national unity, and declares Nueva Aztlán to be foolish pretenders.
  • In Rise of Nations the Mayans, Aztecs, and Incas all get special versions of modern units. Some of the promotional material even includes such phrases as "Where were you when the Aztecs dropped the bomb?" with a picture of a man wearing a gas mask and colorful feathery clothing.
  • Theocracy: The player leads and manages a fictional Mesoamerican 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 20 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.

    Web Original 
  • Atlas Altera: Many indigenous peoples of the Americas (which are collectively called Gemina in this timeline) were able to achieve or maintain their own independence, leading to states like the Tawantinsuyu of Peru and the Chicuexcan of Nicaragua (a federation stretching from mid-Mexico to mid-Panama).
  • 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 "Aztec Empire" in which the Aztecs drive Cortez off and, fearing another invasion, modernized and survived through the present day. The Incas do the same and are the rival empire of the Aztecs.

    Real Life 
  • Bernardino de Sahagún and other Christian missionaries helped to acommodate native culture to their new European outlook. It produced, among other things, styles of artwork that mixed indigenous and European art.
  • Downplayed with Mayan Revival, an architectural style associated with Art Deco that was largely inspired by Mayan architecture and cultural motifs.
    • There's also the Neo-Andean style, a recent architectural movement centered in Bolivia.