January 23, 2008

What If...?

It was a brilliantly sunny day that Sunday morning, seemingly not a cloud in the sky.  People made their way to church, or did laundry, played golf or slept in.  Out in the harbor, motorboats took men from one point to another, seemingly at random. 
A few miles out to sea, a metal behemoth sailed towards the harbor.  On its flat wooden deck, a white painted number "6" gleamed in the Pacific sun.  The Enterprise was coming home.  The time: 710am.  The date: December 7th, 1941.

The term "first order counterfactual" refers to the changing of one detail of a recorded event, and seeing where that change takes you.  In the world of "alternative history," such as Harry Turtledove's writings, a first order counterfactual may be something as simple as the Confederate Lost Orders not falling out of an officer's jacket, leading to the United States being divided permanently.

742am.  A huge flight of Japanese fighters and attack planes approach Pearl Harbor. Captain Mitsuo Fuchida, gazing out of the cockpit of his Nakajima B5N, has just keyed his radio to life.  "Tora tora tora!" 

Back on board the Akagi, the flagship of the attacking Japanese fleet, static whispers through the speakers of the radio room.  Then, unexpectedly, Fuchida speaks again.  "There's a carrier in the harbor!"

In the actual events of history, the Enterprise had been on a mission to Wake Island, delivering fighters to the garrison located there.  Scheduled to return to Pearl Harbor on December 6th, she was running late... and thereby missed out on being the main target of the December 7th attacks.

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Posted by: Wonderduck at 12:03 AM | Comments (28) | Add Comment
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