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Jackalgirl

History of Halcyon/TOW Back Story [Spoilers]

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I was trying to get a lock on the story timeline and finally read through the parts of the various wikis that talk about the background history of the worlds of The Outer Worlds.  All of them mention TOW's first point of departure from our own history as taking place in 1901, when President William McKinley wasn't assassinated, and Theodore Roosevelt didn't become president of the United States.  (Yes, I'm slow to the party.)

This kinda majorly blew my mind.  I've read Edmund Morris' Theodore Rex series, although it's been a while, and I need to read it again.  But it's super intriguing that this one person's absence could be what leads to the throughly hyper-corporate culture of TOW (the gist is that without "Theodore the Sudden's" monopoly-busting activities, the growth and development of super-powerful corporations would have been unchecked, leading to the society we see at play in TOW).

That got me thinking of a lot of things.  One of the other things that Theodore Roosevelt was passionately interested in is a topic that's near and dear to my own heart: the US Navy.  He's the one who instituted the sailing of the Great White Fleet in 1908, and I've always felt that this was one of the starting points (for good and for ill, in retrospect) of the United States' growth as a global superpower.  Roosevelt, thoroughly onboard with Alfred Thayer Mahan (contemporary author of The Influence of Sea Power upon History, 1660-1783), realized that dominance at sea was critical to a nation's prosperity, security, and power.  There's no indication that Alfred Thayer Mahan was also absent in the history of TOW, but without a no-holds-barred leader like Roosevelt to act upon Mahan's ideas, what would the US Navy of TOW have looked like?  Clearly there's some form of some kind of Navy/Marine Corps relationship (not necessarily the US Navy, mind you), because we run into the descendants of a Marine Detachment in Groundbreaker.   But without Roosevelt, how would the growth of the United States as a global power be impacted? Would some other country have stepped in to bridge the gap?  What would World Wars I and II looked like (I imagine that they still would have happened, especially WWI)?  Would there have been the Battles of the Coral Sea and Midway, without the earlier effort to build up the size & effectiveness of the US Navy? 

I sort of imagine that governments would have had their own proprietary military forces for a while, but eventually the corporations would have become so powerful that governments would have had to contract out to the corporations for military services (sort of as if the British Crown had hired the military arm of the East India Company instead of maintaining its own Navy) before ultimately becoming subsumed themselves by corporations (a unified corporate takeover of governmental functions*?).

It also reminded me strongly of Neal Stephenson's Snow Crash.  If you haven't read it, I can't recommend it strongly enough.  But I think I can safely say without spoiling it too much that it's set in a speculative world in which strong encryption has lead to the growth of cryptocurrency (a theme explored in another of his books, Cryptonomicon, also excellent), which in turn has led to governmental collapse and a world which is largely run by...you guess it, corporations.  

Spoiler

The U.S. military broke into "General Jim's National Defense" and "Admiral Bob's Global Security", which I can easily see as the precursors to UDL.  And the fact that the General's corporation is national and the Admiral's is global makes me think that Mr. Stephenson has been reading his Mahan, too. ; )

I need to go reread my Morris, and I can't help but wonder if the folks at Obsidian are Stephenson fans.  I was absolutely delighted to find out this detail, though, and I have to think that they've thought about all of this, and I wonder if any more details about the much-earlier history of TOW's Earth will be part of the DLC (or maybe TOW 2)?  I sure hope so.  I am just on fire to learn more, and for me it really underscores why Obsidian is just so dang awesome. : )   

* Do historians in the world of TOW talk about the "Instruments of Corporate Power" as opposed to the "Instruments of National Power"?

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