Writing the Introduction to an Alternate History “Textbook”


Today I’m busy writing the introduction to my alternate history “history textbook’ novella. My, that’s a mouthful. Read on, let’s figure out what I mean.

One of the major rules of writing is ‘show, don’t tell.’ The editor for the Steam Empire Chronicles frequently reminds me to stop information dumping all over the place. But what about people who like that? (Cough cough, like me). I always find that I nerd out when it comes to reading the historical lore of a place or thing. Yes, I’m that person who reads all the history books in Skyrim, or explores the wiki for Star Wars lore so deep I’m not even sure I’m still in Star Wars.

One of the things I’ve always wanted to do for the Steam Empire Chronicles is explore across the ocean. What would the “Americas” be like? How would an expansionist Rome interact with the natives? How would the native peoples be different?

My next novella (Working Title: A Brief History of New Caesaria) will be an anthology of ‘primary resources’. Instead of writing a story, I’ll be attempting to stretch my writing skills. The anthology would have four to eight ‘mini stories’ that tell the tale of one part of the story of New Caesaria.

What will it end up looking like? Who knows? Here’s my beginning so far, what do you think?




Greetings reader, I hope you enjoy my trifling effort to summarize some of the most critical events in the history of the colonization of New Caesaria. I was commissioned by the Byzantium College of Warfare to compose this volume of primary resources on the development of New Caesaria. Exploring the time period from discovery to initial exploration and colonization efforts to the present day, it is my foremost desire that this volume sheds some light on the westernmost reaches of our Empire’s power.

I make no promise of extensivity, rather I have pulled from the most original and noteworthy resources. Some may question my inclusion of so-called “barbarian” accounts of colonization. To them I say that Rome has always worked hard to integrate the people, including those ‘less civilized’, around our empire. We like to think of Rome as the most enlightened in the world, but as a nation we have much to learn from our neighbors.

Certainly, their ways, methods, and language are foreign to us. In some cases, such as the Aztlan Dominion, their methods are abhorrent and bloodthirsty. Others, such as the republican traditions of the Five Lake Confederacy, leave much for to be admired. I would be unable to tell the true story of our colonization efforts without their truth.

I am a firm believer that the pursuit of truth is the highest ideal. These documents and accounts will shed light upon the actions of the Empire and those working in her name. The polyglot society developing in the colonies of New Caesaria is not truly Roman, not by our understanding of the word. It is something new. Given the distances between New Caesaria and the rest of the Empire, I have no doubt that these differences will continue to grow.

How the future shapes New Caesaria, none of us know. But the ingredients – the people, the cultures, and the spirit of those who seek to travel to New Caesaria, combined with the strength and passions of the people who already live there – can only result in something unique and different in our world.

May you enjoy these accounts as much as I have enjoyed finding them.

Author: Daniel Ottalini

Author of the Award-Winning Steam Empire Chronicles Series

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