Dale Cozort's Alternate History Newsletter 

Volume 10: Number 1 --- February  2007


The Rif War

One of the lesser known 20th century wars gets an Alternate History

Computing As Though Microsoft Never Existed

Scenario Seeds

A fine bunch of  mini-scenarios from a range of eras in history.

Spain joins the Axis in 1940

If Spain followed Italy into the war.

US tries to defend Guam at the beginning of World War II 

Title says it all.

Review: Sky People

A Polish Zero?

The Poles develop a fast, maneuverable fighter comparable to the Japanese Zero in the leadup to World War II.  




So What Have I Been Up To?

    I’m starting this issue a bit late because I just finished frantically pulling together my zine for FAPA. (the fantasy amateur press association)   I spaced out on the FAPA deadline until 3:30 in the morning on February 2nd.  It was due in California on February 10th.  Putting together, printing and mailing a 20 page zine in my spare time in about five days was exhausting, and I neglected a lot of things on the ‘honey do’ list to get it done.  Then of course I had to go back and make amends for that, which meant skipping Capricon, a local science fiction convention.
    Bottom line: I’m finally sitting down to do a POD on February 14.  Getting a decent POD done will be a trick this time.  With FAPA I can recycle some POD stuff and nobody but Dale Speirs gets the stuff twice.  With POD, you’ve seen most of what I’ve written.  Of course I can recycle some of the new stuff I wrote for FAPA, with again only Dale Speirs getting it twice, so I guess it sort of evens out.
    So, on with the zine.  First I'll tie up a few loose ends from the last two issues.  I've gotten on a solar cell kick lately as you can see here and here.  I’m almost done writing about solar cells for now, but I do have a few thoughts.  Sharp, the world’s largest solar cell manufacturer, went from 300 megawatt to 700 megawatt annual capacity in a year and a half, and that will be going up again this year.  Other companies are adding huge amounts of capacity too.  In the next three or four years we could see an ironic situation: several multi-billion dollar solar cell companies, but with a laughably small impact on our energy picture.
       The unknowns pile up for solar cells after 2010.  The biggest wild card is the DARPA project. Their goal was small scale production of 50% efficient cells 50 months from the start of the program in late 2005/early 2006. That means 50% efficient cells by 2010.  They are working with a company that already produces 36% efficient cells for satellites, so 50% may be reachable.
     The current record efficiency in a lab is a little over 40%, so they ‘just’ have to add another 10% of efficiency and reproduce that in a production environment.  Piece of cake, right?   Getting costs (literally) down to earth may be even tougher than that.  Of course ‘down to earth’ costs depend on what part of the earth you are going to.  The army is interested because soldiers use a lot of electronic gizmos and a few solar panels and rechargeable batteries can replace a lot of non-rechargeable batteries and a lot of diesel fuel for generators.  That means fewer trucks on dangerous Iraqi roads.  Special forces types could really use something like this too, with power-to-weight ratio more important than cost.
      China is another wild card in the solar cell industry.  Chinese production capacity rose from 50 megawatts in 2005 to 1 gigawatt in 2007.  The Chinese tend to push prices down in any industry they get into, though their costs of production are now rising rapidly as wages rise in the industrialized coastal areas.
    Cost is the crucial variable for solar cells.  I believe that I mentioned earlier that currently solar cells are around five times too expensive to displace conventional sources of electricity.  Of course most other sources of electricity produce a lot of ‘externalities’—costs to society that are not reflected in electricity prices.  The solar panels themselves account for less than half of the cost of solar electricity, with most of the rest of the cost coming from inverters to change direct current to alternate current, and installation. 
     For this issue of FAPA I started an ongoing column called Cocktail Party Science, where I share facts and speculation that I think might be of interest to science fiction fans and writers.   You can check that out here and here.  The cocktail party science articles aren’t AH related, but you may find them interesting  I’ll also continue with my novel Bear Country, do some scenario seeds, and hopefully get a respectable amount of commenting done.  All of this in three days.  Sounds a tad ambitious.   We’ll see.  In any case, enjoy the zine. 

Note: I actually got quite a bit of writing done in those three days.  I did the usual crop of scenario seeds,got a good start on an alternate history involving one of the least know 20th century wars: The Rif War, started a scenario where Spain joins the Axis in 1940, did a nice little scenario where the US tries to defend Guam at the beginning of World War II and one where the Poles develop a fast maneuverable fighter comparable to the Zero in the leadup to World War II.

No alternate history newsletter would be complete without a little shameless self-promotion.  My book on demand American Indian Victories is still available on Amazon.com.  If you would like further infromation, go here.   If you go there, do come back and enjoy the newsletter.  I do like to sell books, but I also enjoy sharing my scenarios. 

Note From April 2007: I didn't post this for several months because with the limited time available to me I just couldn't afford to struggle with getting it onto AOL.  Finally I just decided to post it somewhere else (gather.com) and link to the articles from here.  It takes minutes rathers than hours, and I can afford mintues. 

Note From Feb 2012: I finally got time to integrate this into an easier to navigate structure.

Posted on April 18, 2007.


More Stuff For POD Members Only

What you see here is a truncated on-line version of a larger zine that I contribute to POD, the alternate history APA.  POD members get to look forward to more fun stuff.