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Imagine what would be, if history had occurred a bit differently. Who says it didn't, somewhere? These fictional news items explore that possibility. Written by Alternate Historian

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 'Parley' by Guest Historian Chris Oakley
Guest Historian Guest Historian Chris Oakley says, Martians land in New Jersey in 1938 and offer humans an alliance. If you're interested in viewing samples of my other work why not visit the Changing the Times web site.


November 17

In 1938, on this day suspicions that the attempt on Prof. Richard Pearson's life was part of a larger Nazi conspiracy against the American scientific community were heightened when U.S. Army intelligence cryptologists decoded a series of cable intercepts originating from the Berlin headquarters of Germany's Abwehr foreign espionage agency.

Part Eight of Parley These cables, initially transmitted to the German embassy in Washington and then forwarded to German undercover agents throughout the United States, contained detailed instructions for assassinating prominent American scientists and attacking facilities known or suspected to be associated with the overall Western research and development efforts to master Martian technology.

Interestingly enough, these cables made no mention of the Manhattan Project, suggesting the German government wasn't yet aware of its existence.



November 10

In 1938, on this day the British High Commissioner's office in Rome cabled prime minister Neville Chamberlain with alarming news: Martian militarist technicians were working with Italian and German physicists at a desert research station in Italian-occupied Libya on the development of a new type of explosive weapon which utilized the process of atomic fission to achieve its destructive effect.

Part Five of Parley To make matters worse, these same technicians were also consulting with German rocket scientists on the possibility of adapting the experimental atomic weapon to be capable of fitting into the warhead of a long-range or medium-range ballistic missile.

If the Nazis succeeded in devising such a warhead, the cable warned, Hitler could potentially attack targets as distant as London simply by pushing a button.



November 7

In 1938, Western fears that Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin had forged an alliance with the militarists trying to overthrow Mars' royal house were realized when Stalin used the occasion of the 21st anniversary of the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution to announce the Kremlin had signed what he called "an historic accord" with the Martian militarists to receive weapons and technological assistance from them in return for Moscow's support of their insurrection against the Martian monarch.

Part Four of Parley But that was only the beginning of the bad news for the West: just 24 hours after Stalin dropped his diplomatic bombshell, Third Reich foreign minister Joachim von Ribbentrop set off another one with the news Martian militarist technicians were assisting German rocket scientists in upgrading facilities at the ballistic weapons development complex in the Baltic city of Peenemünde. And two days after Ribbentrop's announcement, the Japanese war ministry accepted an offer from the Martian militarists to furnish the Imperial Army with a new type of improved armor for its tanks and blueprints for a portable heat ray that could be used by its infantry.

These developments prompted the West to accelerate its own efforts to master Martian technology. The most dramatic example of this acceleration was in the United States, where a research and development laboratory was hastily established at the town of Roswell, New Mexico on orders from President Roosevelt's Secretary of War Harry Woodring. CBS Radio producer Orson Welles, who had been responsible for broadcasting the first accounts of the Martians' arrival at Grovers Mill, would be among those in attendance at a White House press conference in late November announcing the laboratory's historic breakthrough in creating an airframe capable of traveling at the speed of sound.



November 19

In 1938, Earth's first faster-than-sound aircraft, the Bell XF-1A, took its debut test flight.

Part Nine of Parley The XF-1A, designed by aviation mogul Howard Hughes and incorporating Martitan innovations in vehicle propulsion technology, broke the sound barrier within just a few minutes after taking off from an airfield in the California desert and would eventually reach speeds of up to 2200 miles per hour before landing at an Army Air Corps base in Nevada. The supersonic aircraft, whose existence would be revealed at a White House press conference three days later, was created in response to a War Department proposal for a tactical fighter that could fly faster than sound and intercept the long-range bombers the Germans were said to be working on with the aid of Martian militarists.

Among those who attended the press conference disclosing the XF-1A's existence was CBS Radio producer Orson Welles, who as a result of the startling turn of events which had unfolded since the landing at Grover's Mill was steadily shifting away from his former career as an entertainer to a new identity as a newsman. By the summer of 1940 he would be working almost exclusively for CBS Radio's news division.



November 20

In 1938, on this day the U.S. federal government bought a substantial tract of land in the Cape Canaveral region of Florida with the aim of building a rocket launch/construction/training facility in that area to be jointly operated by the War and Navy.Departments.

Part Nine of Parley Construction on the Cape Canaveral rocket base would be finished in the summer of 1939, just in time for the start of the Second World War. The base would play a critical role in crushing the militarist rebellion on Mars; in the 1960s Canaveral would gradually transition into a fully civilian spaceport, and by 1980 would serve as the principal departure point for flights between Earth and US and allied outposts on the Moon.



October 30

In 1938, on this day farmers and police at the New Jersey town of Grover's Mill gathered near the crash site of what was initially thought to be a meteor.

Part One of Parley Closer inspection of the object, however, revealed it was actually an extraterrestrial spacecraft; even more astonishing, when the craft's occupants emerged they identified themselves as the advance party of a diplomatic mission from the planet Mars sent to establish what one of the Martians called "an alliance between the royal house of our planet and the free peoples of Earth against the tyrants who would seek to oppress both our worlds".

Under heavy police and military escort the Martian ambassadors were driven to a US Army Air Corps base on Long Island; from there they were subsequently flown to Washington for an emergency meeting with President Franklin D. Roosevelt. A new thread by Chris OakleyWhat Roosevelt heard at that meeting alarmed him: a group of Martian militarists seeking to overthrow their homeworld's monarch had sent its own emissaries to Earth to make pacts with Hitler's Germany, Stalin's Russia, Mussolini's Italy, and the generals' clique that was increasingly dominating the Japanese government. There were even disquieting hints one such emissary had made preliminary overtures to Spanish Falangist warlord Francisco Franco.



November 14

In 1938, on this day Princeton University astronomy professor Richard Pearson, one of the first Western scientists to make contact with the Martians following the landing at Grover's Mill, was seriously injured at his office in what was initially thought to have been a failed robbery but later determined to have been an assassination attempt by Gestapo agents who had recently infiltrated the Princeton campus.

Part Seven of Parley Knowing the value of Professor Pearson's work in relation to the larger human effort to understand Martian culture and technology, FBI director J. Edgar Hoover personally took charge of the Pearson case and instructed the FBI's New York City field office to make the Gestapo agents' capture its top priority.



November 13

In 1938, on this day the United States and Great Britain jointly initiated a crash atomic weapons development program meant to counter the German-Italian A-bomb effort.

Part Six of Parley Dubbed "the Manhattan Project" because its main U.S. offices were initially housed in a Manhattan U.S. Army Corps of Engineers building, the Anglo-American program's main goal was to produce a working atom bomb before the Axis powers did; one of its key additional purposes was to harness atomic energy as a power source for the heat ray batteries being constructed along the U.S. and British coasts.

One of the first scientists recruited for the Manhattan Project was a UCLA graduate student named Clayton Forrester (pictured). As the nuclear race between the West and the Axis accelerated, Dr. Forrester became one of the most important scientific figures in America; by the time war finally broke out between the Western alliance and the Axis nations Forrester was the de facto number two man on the project's scientific team. After the Third Reich collapsed and the anti-monarchist uprising on Mars was crushed, he became a physics professor at Harvard and continued his research on atomic energy. Dr. Forrester would go on to win the 1953 Nobel Physics Prize.



November 3

In 1939, on this day French president Eduoard Daladier (pictured) met with a delegation of Martian envoys near Paris to witness a demonstration of a directed energy weapon which the chief envoy said would enable France and its allies to better defend themselves against possible future attack by Germany.

This weapon, nicknamed a "heat ray" by an American newspaper correspondent who was covering the demonstration for the Chicago Tribune, was capable of vaporizing even the hardest targets in the blink of an eye; in its first test firing on Earth soil it disintegrated more than a dozen heavy tanks in barely two seconds.

Part Three of Parley Movie footage of the test firing was duly sent to the British embassy in Paris, which in turn dispatched it to the Ministry of Defence offices in London for further review.A new thread by Chris Oakley

One British leader who was especially fascinated by the heat ray demonstration film was ex-Lord of the Admiralty Winston Churchill. Churchll, a fervent opponent of the Nazis from the day Hitler first came into power in 1933, saw the weapon as a lethally effective countermeasure to the Third Reich's constantly expanding bomber force and submarine fleet. By the spring of 1939 Churchill would be personally overseeing the construction of nearly a hundred heat ray projectors in Great Britain, twenty-five of them lined up along the coast of the Straits of Dover to deter the Germans from mounting an invasion attempt.



October 31

In 1938, on this day Martian diplomatic envoys landed in the British town of Woking for a historic meeting with British prime minister Neville Chamberlain and his inner circle.

Part Two of Parley There was a certain irony in the locale for this meeting, given that in H.G. Wells' classic novel War Of The Worlds Woking was the site where Martian war machines had launched their first attack on Earth; journalists covering the meeting were quick to note the contrast between that violent fictional confrontation and the more cordial actual summit between the Martian diplomats and Chamberlain's cabinet.

For one man present at the summit, the event had a special personal significance -- H.G. Wells had agreed to write a commentary on the Woking conference for the London Times. In later years his article would come to be regarded as the definitive journalistic account of Great Britain's first direct encounter with extraterrestrials. Back in the United States, meanwhile, President Roosevelt and his Secretary of State, Cordell Hull, were debriefing selected members of Congress on FDR's discussions with the Martian delegation that had landed in Grover's Mill the previous night.



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© Today in Alternate History, 2013-. All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.