Now for ten years we’ve been on our own
And moss grows fat on a rollin’ stone,
But that’s not how it used to be.
When the jester sang for the king and queen,
In a coat he borrowed from James Dean
And a voice that came from you and me,
– Don McLean (American Pie)
There were several units, each dedicated to temporal restorations and expeditions on each of the allied home worlds. The units could and did meet in the cafeteria, and they shared certain FTEs such as physicians and engineers. It was illegal, of course, to hire based solely on species. But when going to Pre-Warp eras, it was necessary to restrict these expeditions to either native species or those who could believably pass.
Rick wasn’t fully human, but he was close enough. But someone like Otra was forbidden from traveling to Pre-Warp Earth or Terra.
So they’d see the other units at times – smiling Calafan women, bald as eggs and giggling like schoolgirls; stern Gorn keeping to themselves; Klingons arguing over opera; and workaholic Vulcans hammering out knotty problems over weak tea.
This was how Kevin knew Deirdre – they would run into each other on occasion. And Yarin, too, although he was sent over on a more regular basis. The intent was for all species to cooperate and share resources as needed. No species was meant to be superior – or inferior – to any of the others. There was peace in the galaxy, with nearly all known species. Except, naturally, for the Borg, who saw no value in cooperation and still just wanted to assimilate anyone they could. Their main concerns with the timeline were to keep their race going and take any advantage that they could, when they could. There was an entire unit dedicated to them – Carmen was glad that, unless they were directly going after humans or the Earth or Terra, she didn’t have to deal with them.
“What have we got?” Rick asked. It was just him and Carmen.
“On February 3, 1959, three musicians are killed when their plane is improperly deiced and crashes in Clear Lake, Iowa. They are Ritchie Valens, Buddy Holly and Jiles Richardson, known as J. P. and, professionally, as The Big Bopper.”
“According to Otra, this spells disaster for the timeline, as Richardson becomes an arch-conservative Senator who taxes the British Invasion. Keep in mind; this is a man who had studied pre-law. This prevents the 60s from actually happening,” Carmen explained.
“Okay, so, um, no beatniks, right?” Rick asked, “And I take it the music changes.”
“Yes. And the 1960s are hippies, not really beatniks. In the original history, when it came to popular music after their deaths – it had been stagnating, but a few events occurred not too long afterwards. A Detroit producer dreams up something called ‘The Wall of Sound’, and African-American artists start recording – and selling – a lot of music. Four young men in Liverpool, England play the clubs in places like Hamburg and begin to make and sell a staggering amount and variety of music. The Liverpudlians – we called them The Beatles – spawned all sorts of acts, not just imitators but admirers. For music as late as twenty or more years later, often a huge influence on why an artist even considered a life in music, let alone mastered the skills so as to be successful, was whether that person had seen the Beatles play on a program called ‘The Ed Sullivan Show’,” she said.
“The influenced people go from Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Bruce Springsteen on down to, well, to Jon Bonjovi. The Beatles aren’t just an act; they’re a phenomenon, influencing not only music but fashion, politics and even spirituality. On the Detroit side, Motown and its sound also changed whatever it touched: music, hairstyles, hemlines, etc. Both it and the Beatles also – it was inevitable – put their stamp on politics. It was a movement. These people were already a large segment. They were the Baby Boomers so they were a rather large slice of the populace. And music brought them together.”
She paused for a breath, “And they stayed together in other ways. In 1960 – and they weren’t even old enough to vote, mind you – youth fever gripped the nation. It was a wave of optimism, and it swept into the White House a rather young man with big ideas: John Kennedy. Although he would be assassinated, that voting bloc does pull in a lot of transformative legislation. In particular, it’s in the area of Civil Rights. There’s violence, including the deaths of Civil Rights workers Goodman, Schwerner and Cheney, and a reactionary political movement elects Richard Nixon twice. But the youth movement never really goes away, even after its original adherents become older than their own parents were at the outset. It elects Barack Obama. It brings with it equal rights for women and minorities. It changes the look of Congress for good, the same time it changes music and fashion houses. It is, let’s just say, a 900 pound gorilla. It does what it wants, and it influences all, even when it is silent. When the Baby Boomers passed on, most of their changes proved to be permanent. Even from the grave, seemingly, they tweaked technology and tuned the strings.”
“So what happened instead?” he asked. He was thinking ahead – he always was – and trying to figure out where the problems really were. A few changed songs hardly seemed worth getting riled up about – at least, not as much as Carmen was riled.
“In the alternative history, Senator Jiles P. Richardson, Republican of Iowa – he ends up settling there – is elected. His main legislation is that he gets a bill passed that puts a heavy tariff on the importation of music from outside the United States. As in, like I said before, he taxes the British Invasion. I have a quotation from the Senatorial Record. As Richardson puts it, ‘There needs to be protection for American musicians. Foreigners are in competition, and with the biggest acts, like Sinatra. Every time Hollywood promotes some sort of exotic star who sings, some new Carmen Miranda, it harms our homegrown talent. Our ingenuity, our passion, our drive, our ambition, our industry, our art, our vision and our future, those’ve all got to be protected.’”
“All right, so he’s a protectionist. What are the specific differences?”
“First, there’s no plane crash. The youth movement, despite the sheer size of the Baby Boomer generation, never really takes off. John Kennedy is not nominated for the Presidency in 1960. Instead, it’s John Connolly who gets the nod. He loses to Nixon and Henry Cabot Lodge. Nixon and Lodge get in, but in ’61, probably due more to the stress of the office than anything else, Nixon dies of a stroke. It is blood clots from phlebitis that hit his heart and brain, and he can’t be saved. Lodge has to handle Viet Nam a few years earlier than in the original history. There’s no Bay of Pigs and no Cuban Missile Crisis. But Viet Nam explodes early. So Lodge – a hawk – nukes Saigon, almost immediately. There’s no real Viet Nam war after that, no veterans returning traumatized, except for the guys who were on the nuke run. No Agent Orange – it never has to be invented. The Asian economy tanks for a good century – even seemingly unaffected countries like Japan are harmed, as refugees pour across borders, every which way. There’s no real electronics or IT movement. The personal computer is invented sixty years late. The Space Race has much less of a sense of urgency. Russia gets to the moon first, in 1978, but not until after a boatload of accidents, both American and Russian. Hence first contact happens later.”
“Okay, now it’s bad.”
“There’s also no environmental movement to speak of, and no Civil Rights movement. Emmett Till’s death now has zero purpose. Goodman, Schwerner and Cheney do not die in Mississippi, although James Cheney is lynched. Mickey Schwerner never even goes there. He becomes a lawyer, well, he was one, but he’s admitted to the Supreme Court Bar and argues and loses an anti-miscegenation case, uh, let’s see, I have it here, Hawthorn v. Lewis, in 1983, instead of the original case where racial mixing was allowed, Loving v. Virginia, in 1967. Jim Crow laws exist for an extra sixty-two years, until 2021.”
“There’s more. Teheran is nuked in 1979 so there’s no hostage crisis. There’s a serious oil shock in ’87 – serious enough that President Heston – an actor, Charlton Heston – attacks Venezuela. About that time, Martin Luther King, Jr., dies in his sleep in Italy. And then there’s music. The Beatles never get out of Hamburg. John Lennon quits and becomes a coal miner, never meeting Yoko Ono and certainly never being shot. Paul McCartney never meets Linda Eastman, and becomes a shopkeeper. George Harrison hangs himself at age twenty-five. Shall I go on?”
“Uh, that’s all right. Hmm. What about for here?”
“Kevin and I will investigate,” she said.
“So, no new hires?”
“No, we’ll still hire as planned, I think this will rise to the surface soon.”
“And if it doesn’t, you might be planting a mole or two or ten,” he pointed out.
“Possibly,” she conceded, “But it’s also a way to watch, as I am thinking that those responsible fancy themselves as do-gooders. I don’t think they’ll try to harm you, but they also won’t be able to resist some more tampering.”
“Don’t be so sure,” Rick said, shaking his head, “Who will you hire as a priority?”
“The computers gal, the music man and the soldier, I believe.”
“Let me suggest the Quartermaster. And then some combination of one of the doctors, the psychologist and the manners gal.”
“Why is it that the only people you want me to hire are women, Richard?”
“If you have to ask, Carmen ….”
Oh, and while the king was looking down,
The jester stole his thorny crown.
The courtroom was adjourned;
No verdict was returned.
And while Lennon read a book of Marx,
The quartet practiced in the park,
And we sang dirges in the dark
The day the music died.
– Don McLean (American Pie)