1. J.D. Rand
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    J.D. Rand Member

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    Alien Refugees Stranded In 1830s America

    Discussion in 'Setting Development' started by J.D. Rand, Feb 7, 2014.

    I'm afraid that I'm very indecisive when it comes to altering the course of history within a story, so I figured it would be best if I sought out some input and opinions to get a better understanding of the times. And if there's anything in this post that needs to be addressed or fleshed out better, ask away.

    The point of divergence in my story is currently set in the autumn of 1829, where an interdimensional gateway opens up somewhere in the Appalachian Mountains between Virginia and Georgia. The alien refugees coming through it number over a hundred thousand and have taken everything that they could with them before permanently closing the portal behind them; they are essentially a city's population that uprooted its infrastructure and fled from an as-of-yet undecided global catastrophe. On a technological level, they are advanced enough to be roughly a century ahead of modern-day Earth, though their technology is in varying states of disrepair due to factors related to the aforementioned disaster, and most of their production lines have ground to a near-halt in the wake of their hasty relocation.

    In other words, the aliens are basically in the same general situation as the town of Grantville from Eric Flint's 1632 - they have a lot of shiny beat-up advanced technology being put to good use, but they certainly won't be capable of conquering the world or gracing the world with their idea of enlightenment. Their first order of business is basically to work out survival in their new world and bring relative stability back into their lives. Their relationship with mankind would largely depend on how mankind chooses to interact with them.

    My question is, how would America and the world in general from the 1830s onward react to what is pretty much a mass exodus of advanced aliens of multiple species ranging from lizard people, to a species that's a humanoid blend of wolf/bird/kangaroo, to bioluminescent avian/insectoid dragons, etc.? What sort of actions do you think the American people of the early-to-mid 19th century would take when you suddenly throw a large alien settlement into Andrew Jackson's backyard, who have effectively trapped themselves on Earth for better or worse?
     
  2. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Well, what an intriguing idea. This will divert me for a while, I'm sure.

    Just to reply off the top of my head. I cannot imagine for one second that these creatures would be acceptable to settlers of that age. They would be terrified, and probably shoot to kill without question—and then move as far away from the locale as possible, as quickly as possible.

    Most of these settlers would have a Christian background, these creatures would certainly be seen as devils. (Think of the pictures of 'hell' as painted by Bruegel and others, with half-this and half-that creatures dragging sinners down to hell.) The concept of outer space just didn't exist at that time, especially in the minds of settlers in that part of the country.

    However, a settler's CHILD might be captivated by these creatures, if he/she came across them and they were kind and pleasant. Interesting story material indeed. Of course a method of communication would need to be worked out. And would the 'invaders' see the settlers as possible neighbours, or would they (or some of them) see them as prey?
     
  3. Bryan Romer
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    Bryan Romer Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yup. Kill 'em all. Keep a few for the zoo.

    Those aliens better have guns that work or they're headed for the museum.
     
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  4. Wowzie
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    Wowzie Member

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    Firstly, shoe on you for getting other people to do your work for you.

    Put yourself in their shoes.
     
  5. Monte Thompson
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    Monte Thompson Member

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    Don't worry about altering history.The first thing I think is: who opened the portal and, if they have the ability to close it can they not also open it?
    Why did they come here and what is the nature of the portal. One century ahead of our modern technological level still seems a bit far away from developing space/time portals.

    In 1832 a 100,000 is an awful lot of people. In 1830 New York city holds the most people in America at 200,000. Baltimore is second at 80,000. In 1832 the world is facing a cholera epidemic. Chicago has a population of just over 4,000 people. So 100,000 aliens barging onto the scene is hardly a "settlement". You might want to alter those numbers a bit.

    This is all a part of research. Use that Google, find out more about that era and what people lived like.
     
  6. Garball
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    Garball Sometimes nothing can be a real cool hand. Supporter Contributor

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    Like any good redneck or hillbilly, "Let's throw rocks at it!" or, "Shoot it, Pa!"
     
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  7. Monte Thompson
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    Monte Thompson Member

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    lol
     
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  8. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    I would think there would be some toady in the bunch wanting to butter up the aliens just to figure out how to get his hands on all their gadgets. Or some lady in the bunch thinking - golly, those green guys are more gentlemanly than a real gentleman. Or stronger or smarter ( anything that would spark an attraction ) People would react in fear - kill 'em! but they would also react in curiosity. It all depends to on how the character's meet. If the aliens come charging en masse out of the woods that would scare the blazes out of anyone - but if they sneak around and use an opportunity to create a meeting that might alter things.
     
  9. Ben414
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    Ben414 Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm sure Andrew Jackson would find a very peaceful way of dealing with the aliens, just like he did with the Indians.
     
  10. desert rat
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    desert rat Member

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    The first reply by Jannert caught my attention. they are correct about the Christian background. But also what about the Native cosmology? Could the peoples religious beliefs play into this? Could the Natives see this as return of ancestors or demi-gods? As well, are there any legends or myths from around that time that could be referenced to make the story believable and tie it into reality a bit?
     
  11. J.D. Rand
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    J.D. Rand Member

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    Sorry for the late reply. A bunch of things happened between then and now that needed my attention, and I only just remembered that I had started a thread here.

    Coming back to these details, I'd already revised them to an extent, so here is what changed. For one, the portal isn't something that the aliens built, but a conduit built by a civilization far more advanced than them. Said aliens -which I've shortened to somewhere between 20,000-50,000 in number- are fleeing the destruction of their civilization due to what basically amounts to a Lovecraftian-ish space monster (one out of many which populate that slice of their universe) eating their planets for breakfast. Literally.
    The portal itself becomes a one-way trip if it happens to close behind you, which means that the aliens didn't just lock the door and toss the key - they lost the door and stranded themselves in a (not so) random solar system. At that point, their resources are dwindling and they have little choice but to pick a spot on the only habitable planet within range and establish a new home there. That's not to say that they all go to Earth to stay, as they have enough in the way of off-world mining equipment to make good use of it, but going beyond the Solar System costs more than they can afford. As things currently stand for them, they won't be capable of replicating the technology and tracing their way home for another five centuries.

    I also feel the need to point out that they aren't building a single city, but multiple settlements that each serve a different purpose. Local mining operations, agriculture, expeditionary groups, etc. Their landing site/capital would probably have a population of ten thousand at the most, while the rest of them start setting up other population centers further out. Give them a year or two, and they'll have a miniature nation up and running.

    Given that the world population only made it to 1 billion at around 1804, and that the aliens enter the picture in 1829, it's safe to say that humanity wouldn't be seeing much of the aliens at first. Sure, they would definitely be seeing (and probably hearing) scout ships flying at supersonic speeds up in the stratosphere, maybe even speculating at the recent appearance of those little specks of light on the dark side of the moon, but it's mostly rumors and tall tales until the middle of 1830, and some settler from Virginia stirs up all hell when he shoots a lone alien dead while out hunting and hauls her corpse all the way to Richmond. No doubt there would probably be a lot of people going out into the wilderness to investigate those rumors afterward, and not just those under government jurisdiction. That's pretty much when the story really kicks itself into gear.

    With the number of differing Native American communities dotted across the map - including five autonomous nations - there would likely be quite a bit of variety in their initial reactions. Considering where the aliens are landing to begin with, it isn't far-fetched to assume that the Natives would be the first to come into contact with them either. Given that, and the mix of curiosity and cautious friendliness that the aliens would initially display towards mankind, it wouldn't surprise me to see at least a few of those communities joining up with them when the US starts to enforce the Indian Removal Act throughout the 1830s, and I would expect a greater number to approach them for aid.
     
  12. Monte Thompson
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    Monte Thompson Member

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    I stand completely corrected. So sorry to have tried to offer anything.
     
  13. J.D. Rand
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    J.D. Rand Member

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    I don't know what to make of this. Did I step on your toes somewhere in my last post? Because if that's how it all came across, that wasn't what I meant by it. I just wanted to put up my revised plot/setting details before I went to bed and see if they held up any better under constructive criticism. I'm sorry if I came across as an ass while doing so.
     
  14. Mike Hill
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    Mike Hill Natural born citizen of republic of Finland.

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    Natives seeking help from friendly aliens sounds really interesting. Native American history and culture is extremely interesting, and I think still there is much to write about especially in fiction.
     
  15. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    This. Remember that in the American South of 1830, slavery was still in high gear. All it took was a difference in skin color for you not to even be seen as a human. With the significantly greater influence of religion in that time, completely divested of the modern social views we now possess, those poor refugee aliens are demons from the deepest pit of hell. Even if some of them might be of a form that is appealing to the human eye, the Bible (the only religious text that would have been of any influence at that time in that place) does describe Lucifer in his true angelic nature, even if culturally we give him a physical form that has nothing to do with the Bible describes. Some well spoken preacher-man would latch on to that more explicit description in the text itself and condemn even the beautiful ones.
     
  16. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Just as humanity would not react all the same, in any monolithic way, the tens of thousands of aliens--hastily fleeing refugees--wouldn't either.

    The aliens would immediately need food/shelter. The variety of aliens means a variety of nutritional/mineral needs. How would earth's sunlight affect some? What about germs (spread both ways--human to alien and visa versa). Would there be allergies to the plant life, pollen, molds? Would bears find the aliens particularly tasty? Can the aliens even see very well in the sun's light spectrum?

    What about the language gap? What about their energy resources and needs (the aliens)? Did they bring any vehicles?

    Why would it take 500 years to rebuild? Did they not bring any technical manuals or anybody of any knowledge or skills who could begin building the rudimentary needs of basic equipment and grow from there?

    What would the aliens have brought to trade or barter with the local inhabitants? How do they deal with changes in weather and elevation and rainfall and wind. Are the waste products of the aliens toxic to local plant life? Did they bring any plants or domesticated animals of their own?

    There are so many questions to be addressed and as a writer, these are the things you will need to determine and devise and structure into the storyline.

    For example, you plop in 20,000 ill prepared aliens, how long before the food on their back runs out and starvation sets in? Will they need to steal/barter for 'food' from the humans and if they do--how will the humans react? I would imagine a luminescent creature would be responded to differently than a reptilian one.

    Just a few thoughts, expanding upon your question and concern.
     

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