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Draka48

The orange part is all the Domination of the Draka. The blue part is the Alliance for Democracy.

In the parlance of Alternate History Fandom a "Wank" is where a single nation, culture, political theory, or philosophy is singled out and advantaged, typically at the expense of its contemporaries. Perhaps the British Empire has not just kept the American colonies, but expanded into South America as well. Maybe the Greater United States rules our world's Canada and Mexico. Maybe Rome, the Mongols, or Those Wacky Nazis managed to win it all and now dominate the globe.

In short, the point of divergence that created the Alternate History has also created a Mary Sue or, one could say, "Republic of Mary Sue" of one sort or another.

There is disagreement on what constitutes a Wank. Is a Greater Romania timeline where Romania controls all the regions it claimed in the early 20th century a Wank, or would Romania have to dominate the whole of the Balkans? But if Romania controls all Europe, the timeline probably is an Alternate History Wank.

The disagreement on this is like the disagreement on what makes a Mary Sue. Some maintain that to be considered an Alternate History Wank, an alternate timeline must be by nature implausible or even invoke Alien Space Bats after the point of divergence. For others, it just has to show favoritism. One common result of this, however, is the fact that individual nations tend to be assimilated into large multinational single-state power blocs, with the end result in extreme cases being that the entire world is divided between two or three super-empires -- all of which tend to be dominated by one main national or cultural group (which, perhaps not coincidentally, is usually that which the author finds it easiest to identify with and / or write about). This tends to result in a situation where, as with the page image, the map of the world can essentially be shaded with two or three colours.

Wanks tend to be characterised not solely by the success of a nation or other cause, but the fact that it is treated as Born Lucky: everything always goes its way, when an issue turning against it just once would have disastrous consequences. Using The Draka as an example, no-one seems to notice this vast evil empire growing in Africa and react to it until after it has already overrun the Ottoman Empire. The United States in particular is sometimes said to embody the closest thing to this in Real Life: Bismarck famously is believed to have said "there is a special providence that protects fools, drunkards, and the United States of America." Basically it can sometimes be difficult to tell whether the work in question is a wank or not, especially in light of the historical achievements of certain nations or individuals. If Alexander the Great had been a fictional character in an alternate history work then his rapid conquest and creation of a gigantic empire in a very short period of time would likely have been labeled a wank, however Alexander the Great did exist and did create a gigantic empire in a short period of time so wanks, unless they are clear-cut cases like the Drakaverse, are not always very easy to spot.

Note that this is not necessarily a bad thing. Sometimes a plausible timeline with a purposefully maximized British Empire can be informative and entertaining, or valuable for some artistic purpose. Sometimes it's just a matter of doing something fun and entertaining. It just may require a lot of Willing Suspension of Disbelief.

Also a lot of Truth in Television here: the much of the 16th century was a time of "Hispanowank". The 17th century "Dutchwank". The 19th century "Britwank". The 20th century (and previous decades) and present day in the midst of "Ameriwank". Arguably also a "Democracywank" and "Capitalismwank", as those two political and economic ideologies have come to dominate most large and/or powerful nations.

Compare and contrast with Alternate History Screw, the inversion of this trope.

See also America Takes Over the World, Japan Takes Over the World and China Takes Over the World for country-specific examples.

Examples of Alternate History Wank include:

Media in General

  • This treatment is really popular for famous empires, though "bad guy" empires tend to be the most popular for wank status. For every "Rome never falls" timeline there seem to be at least three "USSR and/or Nazi Germany takes over the world".


Anime & Manga

  • Code Geass is a weird case. Britannia rules half the world, but not the British Isles. Japan, despite being a Britannian colony, seems to have been one of the last non-superpower country and its independence is treated as central to world politics, thanks to its large deposites of Sakuradite.


Film

  • Canada in CSA: Confederate States of America. In this alternate history, that nation refused to hand over its escaped American slaves because it was the right thing to do and suffered with a walled CS/Canadian border called the Cotton Wall. Furthermore, for this national choice, Canada reaps the great prize of all the artists of African descent (and several whites as well, including a certain Samuel Clemens) that would have enriched American culture with Rock music, Motown and many others now feed Canadian culture. As a result, Canada becomes the pop culture centre of the world. The CSA itself is the same way, it's built on such a silly amount of historical fallacies that it's nearly impossible to take seriously. Though it makes rather silly Rule of Cool assumptions such as having Lincoln attempt to escape the CSA's forces by the Underground Railroad, it pales in comparison to having the CSA annex the entire North, along with large parts of South America to form a "tropical empire", and then there's the whole thing about a slave-owning society surviving into the modern day without collapsing into a third world country. Despite the CSA being isolated from the rest of the world and culturally stagnant, its economy still runs fairly well.


Literature

  • The Angevin and Polish empires of Randall Garrett's Lord Darcy mysteries. The stories are set in an alternate timeline where most of the Northern Hemisphere is divided between two great ruling powers: the Anglo-French Empire, which extends over most of Western Europe (except Italy) and the Americas and is ruled by the Plantagenets; and the Polish Empire, which has conquered virtually all of Eastern Europe. The timeline splits in 1199, when Richard the Lion-Hearted doesn't die from the crossbow bolt at the siege of Chalus-Chabrol, but recovers, repairs his ways, and goes on to be a great king... Oh, and did we mention that these books take place in the 20th century, and that both empires are still going? Sure, it doesn't look anywhere near modern, but that's just because they use Magitek instead of normal tech.
  • The Domination of Draka (South Africa) in S. M. Stirling's series on The Draka. The premise is that a colony in OTL's South Africa gains independence from Britain around when the United States of America did in our timeline, upholds horrific ideals within its borders (including slavery), and manages to take over the world by the end of the series (Yes, sadly the image chosen for this very page was just the beginning of the wankitude). This is handled in such a way that it made the Wallbanger page for literature -- the civilized nations of the world just ignore the threat of a large, slave-holding, militaristic empire until it's too late. Let's just say that one Fix Fic that was intended to make The Draka less of a Villain Suetopia still started in the mid-20th century with them having almost all of Africa and a good chunk of the Middle East...
  • The Roman Empire in the Slaveworld novels. The empire never fell, sparing the world from The Dark Ages, resulting in a Crap Saccharine World free from pollution and social unrest.
  • The Roman Empire again in Kirk Mitchell's Germanicus trilogy (Procurator; The New Barbarians; Cry Republic). The division point is in the distant past compared to the time of the books, and is the trial of Jesus before Pontius Pilate -- Pilate frees him instead of turning him over to the Jewish leaders. Jesus was not crucified, Christianity never rose, the Roman Empire never fell. It holds most of Western Europe and has provinces in North America and Africa. The Serican Empire (Chinese) hold much of Asia, and are making inroads into the Americas; The Aztecae control South America and southwest North America.
  • The Roman Empire yet again. In Roma Eterna, the failure of the Jewish Exodus from Egypt, as well as a convenient victory over some barbarians, lead to a world where Rome remained divided and never fell. The America's were fortified by a Dane, which prevented Rome from capturing them.
    • Don't forget the part where Mohamed gets offed before he can give rise to Islam -- by a Roman who thinks he'll create the Caliphate.
  • The Roman Empire again again again. In the Romanitas series of books by Sophia McDougall, the survival of Emperor Pertinax leads to Rome controlling Europe, India, South America, half of Africa and most of North America. Japan controls the whole of Oceania, South East Asia, and parts of Siberia. China is reduced to a buffer state between the two. There's also an independent Africa that rebelled from Roman control.
  • Life: Dougal Dixon's The New Dinosaurs is a faux-nature book about how dinosaurs continued to evolve after the K-T extinction failed to happen. It's got shades of this trope, in that the lucky reptiles somehow manage to come up with close equivalents of nearly every major ecological type of mammal -- baleen whales, anteaters, squirrels -- rather than sticking with body plans and strategies of survival that'd already been working fine for them.
  • "Libertarianism"': The Probability Broach by L. Neil Smith.
  • Harry Harrison's Stars and Stripes Forever. This features the British Empire declaring war on the United States after the Trent Affair, which somehow results in the Union and Confederacy conveniently patching up their differences and teaming up on Britain (even managing, at one point, to mount a land invasion of the British Isles).
    • It gets much worse as the series progresses. The first book portrays Britain as a middle-ages style monarchy rather than the parliamentary democracy it actually was by this stage, with military technology and tactics 50 years out of date and all British characters presented in a ridiculously stereotyped fashion and portrayed as inhumanly stupid, evil and prone to rape and pillage to a degree which would make the Vikings proud, while of course Americans are portrayed as all utterly heroic, enlightened and invincible (they also instantly adopt 21st century views on race and gender). Additionally Canadians are shown as poor brainless slaves of the British Empire yearning for the US to annex them (which the US promptly does for their own good).
    • The second book has the same problems but with the addition of the US invading and conquering Ireland, somehow making all the centuries old problems between Protestants and Catholics magically disappear.
    • The third and final book takes AH wanking to plain silly lengths, with the US now advanced to WWI level technology complete with tanks, dreadnought warships, production lines and other such advances (while still set in the 1870s by the way) thus putting the US over 100 years above the UK in technology, and culminates in the US conquering Britain, giving independence to Scotland and "introducing" democracy to the poor British masses.
      • Interestingly, the British claim they already have a representative system, only to be casually brushed away by the conquering Americans, saying it's not the same as theirs, so it must be wrong.
    • The whole 'land invasion of Ireland and Britain' scenario also conveniently ignores or downplays the fact that to do so, the Americans would have to cross the Atlantic -- a body of water dominated by the British Royal Navy, which during the 1860s and 1870s was widely renowned as probably the most powerful and efficient military force on the planet and which, a handful of ironclads aside (which were not as effective as the author suggests), the American navy would have been poorly equipped to face in actual combat.
      • There is a Curb Stomp Battle (if that can even be called a battle) described in one of the novels that has a British ironclad stopping an American convoy heading for Ireland, protected by a new American ironclad. The American captain is itching for a fight, so he pretends that the tiny cannon that the British warship fires to the side in order to get the Americans to respond counts as an act of aggression and blows the British ship away with 2 volleys. Oh, and nothing bad happens to him as a result of this. There is a total of three battles described in the books that result in the British gaining the upper hand: one where they accidentally attack a Southern town instead of a Northern outpost, one where a Highlander regiment takes a fort in New York, and one where a British ironclad sinks an American one. That's it. The rest are all Curb Stomp Battles for the Americans.
    • To be honest, the entire series begins to move away from Alternate History Wank and into Unfortunate Implications territory.
  • In Norman Spinrad's The Iron Dream, a post-apocalyptic Nazi style Germany conquers the world and begins to expand to the stars. (It's ridiculous on purpose.)
  • In a way, Poland after the first set of The Cross Time Engineer novels, although it would be more accurate to say, "Conrad Stargard's Army Empire"...
  • Possibly the Ur Example is Napoléon et la conquête du monde 1812-1832 by Louis Geoffroy in 1832, which - as the title suggests - had Napoleon act slightly differently in the 1812 invasion of Russia with the result that he conquers the entire planet by 1832.
  • The Confederate States of America in How Few Remain by Harry Turtledove. Having defeated the Union in the civil war, they extend their border to the Pacific, defeat the United States a second time and then abolish slavery, all in the course of a year. However, the trope is effectively averted in the rest of the series, which demonstrates the disadvantages the country would suffer (inferior industrial base and population available for the army compared to the USA, for example) and sees the Confederacy getting crushed in the First World War.
    • Actually, the USA lost the Second Mexican War because Britain and France came to the Confederacy's aid, but would only do so if the CSA banned slavery. That's why it happens so quickly. Also, it's mentioned by several characters that the Americans in Canada can only really watch the more important areas.
    • And yet later played rather straight with the US conquering and occupying all of Canada save Quebec (which becomes a satellite) in WW 1 and later the whole of the old CSA in WWII.
      • Although the latter half of that is possibly justified, since aside from the annexation of Canada this would roughly restore the pre-Civil War United States boundaries, and it's clearly established that the United States sees the CSA as legitimately part of the USA anyway.
    • Also played straight with Imperial Japan. Although it's treated as a Wild Card and isn't given a lot of focus, Japan seems to come out on top all the time. They're probably the only country that gains more than it loses from both world wars. By 1945 they control most of South East Asia and are in a position to seriously threaten Australia and India and to demand that Russia hand over parts of Siberia. Some of the viewpoint characters speculate that the Cold War analogue in this time line will involve the USA and Germany trying to prevent Japan from acquiring nuclear weapons.
  • This appears at first to be the case in Fyodor Berezin's Red Stars duology, where a parallel world is discovered where the USSR is dominant thanks to Hitler delaying Operation Barbarossa (thanks to British interference in Greece), causing Stalin to attack first and crush Germany within 2 years. Subverted in that this is a Crapsack World, where democracy is non-existent, and the two superpowers take potshots at each other with H-bombs. Our Russia and US decide to destroy that world and likely succeed.
  • Given that Atlas Shrugged clearly doesn't take place in the "real" 20th century, it can be argued to be an Objectivist Wank. (Inverted, in that the Strikers are proven utterly correct not by conquering the world (though they may do so after the end of the book), but by watching the rest of the world shred itself.)


Newspaper Comics


Tabletop Games

  • In the GURPS tabletop gaming supplement GURPS Alternate Earths 2, one of the settings is an alternate 19th century in which Ming China rules practically the entire world.


Videogames

  • Chrono Cross fell hard into this trope. Guardia, a kingdom that stood for a thousand years, defeated Magus and his army, and is now defended by Crono, Marle, and Lucca who are mighty time traveling heroes... is taken down by Porre on the southern continent, in the span of less than 15 years.
    • We don't really know the extent of the changes caused by their time travel. It might very well be that the elements from Chrono Cross gave an unfair advantage over natural magic from Chrono Trigger, especially when trained in their use by Dalton. If they had elements at all. We also don't know the order some of the events happen, so Lucca's death could very well have happened prior to the war ever starting, and Crono & Marle (and maybe Lucca) would not likely have the capabilities to stand up to a total army, especially if they had superior training in their abilities.
  • A lot of Europa Universalis After Action Reports take this form. This subsequently applies to other Paradox Interactive grand strategy games such as Hearts of Iron or Victoria an Empire Under The Sun. It really depends on the player's ultimate aims and skill, however. And sometimes the AI inadvertantly makes the unlikeliest nations into powerhouses (a unified, westernised India by the mid-16th century, for example)
  • Similar to the Paradox Interactive grand strategy examples, Rise of Nations' Risk-esque "Conquer The World Campaign" often results in this trope.
  • In Empire Earth II, the African campaign is set in the not-so-distant future and concerns a new energy source that can hold a lot of kinetic energy which allows Kenya to become a force to be reckoned with.
  • All of the Total War games have this as the campaign objective.
    • Correction: All world-scale strategy games have this as a campaign objective. It is made worse in the Total War games by the fact that many large and historically powerful factions start the campaign with imperial overstretch; they have too much land to protect with too few troops, their treasury does not allow for rapid buildup, and they are often at war with many other nations straight away. It is invariably easier (if slower) to win the campaign by starting as a small and insignificant nation, directly invoking this trope.
  • Home Front, while not technically an alternate history yet, qualifies anyway. The backstory involves the current North Korea, in just 15 years, becoming powerful enough to conquer half of the continental United States. Not forgetting Japan, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Myanmar, Brunei, East Timor and Papua New Guinea.
  • Freedom Fighters might qualify as this. The point of divergence is 1945: Russia drops The Bomb on Berlin, instead of the USA dropping it on Japan. As a result, Russia takes over the world.


Webcomics


Web Originals

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