Saturday, October 3, 2009

26. Iron


The Era of the Iron Horse

Things might have been different if Columbus's ships hadn't sunk immediately upon arrival in the New World. Things might have been different if there hadn't been a gunsmith and a blacksmith on board. Things would definitely be different if the Carib Indians hadn't taken to the new technology like fish to water. By the time Leopoldo di Pisa discovered Mexico in 1598, both North and South America were in the throes of an industrial revolution, the Aztec Empire had fallen, and the Incas had extended their civilization northward through Mexico into modern-day Texas.

There they encountered the Plains Tribes.

There is no more romantic image than that of an Apache warrior in war paint, leather jacket, and shades, sitting astride his "iron horse," as motorcycles were then called. There was no more terrifying sound for an Inca noble than the sudden roar of a Comanche war party swooping down upon a convoy of supply trucks.

Though we still see the Plains warriors as freedom fighters, the end result of the war was a foregone conclusion. The industrial base was with the Incas. History favors those who have technological superiority.

Comanche and Apache warriors so proved their courage and skill however, that they are employed even today as mercenaries to pacify the natives on those rare occasions when they attempt to break out of their reservations in Austria and Russia.

© 2002 by Michael Swanwick and SCIFI.COM.

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