In our world, the West was won by federal investment in water and transportation infrastructure, private capital exploiting abundant minerals and precious metals, and the wholesale destruction of Native American communities.

On Resonant Earth, history took a few different turns. The United States in the late 1800’s was pre-occupied with re-building the South. Reconstruction didn’t fail; it led to a progressive movement, “The Eternal Enlightenment,” that reshaped the political landscape and consumed the national imagination.

By contrast, the Alt West languished. A harsh, dry landscape, scarcely populated and difficult to navigate: high-quality maps were hard to find and countless settlers lost their lives. Stories of their deaths haunted potential migrants and soon the Alt West was considered a no-go zone.

Only the Cathars, who worshiped a medieval offshoot of Catholicism, had the resources and determination to overcome the odds and settle on the shores of the San Francisco Bay. They founded a community obsessed with virtuous living–every day was devoted to the struggle of good to suppress evil. Their community served as an escape hatch from an increasingly secular, religiously intolerant European state. But they were on their own, a beacon in the wilderness for many years.

The Alt West might have remained a backwater, if not for the “Cold Nile Miracle,” an economic transformation that began on the Columbia river and spread east then south all the way to the Gulf of the Americas. Spurred on by transportation infrastructure connecting Pacific ports to mines throughout the western basin and ranges, company towns were linked together in a sprawling industry that fed the Great Asian War participants’ needs for raw materials.

After the Repartition, the Organized Western States (O.W.S.) was known for some time as a well-run, dynamic, and innovative nation. It produces vast amounts of goods and returned a government surplus to its citizens. It didn’t last. Criminal elements, attracted by the lure of easy pickings, flooded the O.W.S. A shadowy kingpin rose to power and focused the nation’s resources on a seemingly impossible dream: a modern, technologically advanced, crime-free oasis in the desert. Thus was born Las Vegas.

The King of Las Vegas, whoever he really was, didn’t content himself with his bustling city. He soon expanded his horizons and set his sights on his neighboring states. He looked for ways to destabilize them and profit from the chaos. No one deserved more credit and shame for the descent of the Republic of Texas into civil unrest and disorder.

 What does the future hold for the Alt West?

You can read all about it in Broken Mirror, the first novel in my alternate history cyberpunk saga set on Resonant Earth.

Broken Mirror by Cody Sisco: an alternate history cyberpunk novel, Volume 1 of the Resonant Earth series