A couple of Alternate History ideas

My friend Scott and I batted around a couple of interesting AH ideas that I thought I would share with you:

Steampunk America

Point of Divergence: 1796. Thomas Jefferson becomes President over John Adams, and serves two terms.
Jefferson buys the Louisiana Purchase on schedule.
In 1804, the duel between Hamilton and Burr never happens, because Alexander Hamilton is named the standard bearer of the Whigs. Not bothering with the duel, to the consternation of Burr, he wins the Presidency.
A President Hamilton with a strong centralized government ethos and strong fiscal policy leads to a more-rapid than usual industrialization of the United States. Slavery peters out, because King Cotton never gets going–Cotton production is mechanized. Slavery never really becomes illegal but because it never booms, both north and south industrialize rapidly.
A US with North and South both industrialized is a major player on the world stage (or at least the Western Hemisphere) a lot earlier. Bloodier and more rapid Indian wars? Invasion (or purchase?) of Canada? Annexation of Mexico? American Empire early, for good and bad.
A Messy WWI Peace
Suppose Czar Nicholas abdicates early, and other battles and offensives grind to a stalemate, and the US never really gets their troops involved because the Germans stop the sub warfare? The French army mutiny, the Italians fall apart, the Russians are a mess led by Kerensky…The Germans would have won, but no one is really celebrating. WWI ends in early 1918 in the Treaty of Staten Island, brokered by Wilson.
Would you get a communist revolution in France because of the heavy reparations the Germans would have them pay? Would Austro-Hungary still fall apart? Would the Ottoman Empire manage to hang on? Even messier interesting times than our own time line.

A Dance with Dragons–July 12th (?)

This deserved more than a tweet.
According to Martin’s website:
Meanwhile… there is news. Big news. The end is in sight, at long long last, and we’re close enough so that my editors and publishers at Bantam Spectra have set an actual publication date.
A DANCE WITH DRAGONS will be in your favorite bookstore on
TUESDAY, JULY 12, 2011
Yes, I know. You’ve all seen publication dates before: dates in 2007, 2008, 2009. None of those were ever hard dates, however. Most of them… well, call it wishful thinking, boundless optimism, cockeyed dreams, honest mistakes, whatever you like.
This date is different. This date is real.

Well, even if it does come out on July 12th–I’m not as excited as I once would have been.
It’s been too long, George. Its cruel of me to say, but its been too damn long since the last two books. A Feast for Crows came out in 2007. A Storm of Swords came out in 2000. Martin is still considered a King (if not the High King) of Epic Fantasy, but the tarnish is there.
In the last few years, I’ve been introduced to epic fantasy from:
Peter Orullan (currently reading)
Adrian Tchaikovsky (Empire in Black and Gold)
John Brown (Servant of a Dark God)
Robin Hobb (Rain Wilds)
Kevin J Anderson (Terra Incognita)
Jim Butcher (Codex Alera)
Daniel Abraham (Long Price Quartet)
Brandon Sanderson (Warbreaker)
And that doesn’t even go into Sword and Sorcery.
I will eventually buy and read ADWD. But on publication day? No.