What IB Is and What IB Ain't
|About Ill Bethisad|
This article was developed as part of a History of the IB Project.
IB has always been a place for expressing creativity within the framework of an alternate Earth. The principal attractant from the start has been constructed languages; beginning with Brithenig itself and following with Kerno, Breathanach, Arvorec and a veritable host of others. Secondarily, it has also attracted what naturally follows a conlang, and that is a conculture. Natural languages in the primary world do not exist in vacuo, and neither do naturalistic conlangs in their setting.
IB is a "family creation". Members come from divers walks of life and from many different lands, cultures and linguistic backgrounds. But all share the same common goal of discovery within a fantastic world. IB is a friendly place. Like any close group of people sharing physical space and activity, IB Members sometimes disagree with one another, but personal feelings remain amicable and personal insult is certainly not the norm.
The world itself is a fairly realistic model. We have not really tinkered with basic sciences -- whether chemistry, physics or sociology. Some Members have expressed dismay at the negative aspects of IB, prefering in stead to concentrate on the "nice bits" -- but it is quintessentially human to err and we ought not expect a greater perfection from our constructed people, their governments or cultures when we ourselves often fall far short of the ideal. [This is not to say that ideal fantasy cultures are in any way abberant, just that such idealistic fantast has no place in an IB conculture.] IB therefore is a "realistic" world, where war and poverty and disease mar the beauty of existence; yet it contains some elements of the fantastic as well. Often time technical developments that were surpassed or overlooked *here* are mainstream *there*. [As an example, the continuing perfection of dirigibles as air vehicles in IB.]
IB is not the creation of any one person, though there are some individual Members who have put in rather a lot of work. Every Member from the first to the most recent has left a mark on this shared world -- some are vivid and spectacular in their scope, others are infamous, still others are barely discerned and much dimmed by Time. IB is not a private intellectual property. It has been the generally stated concensus of the Membership that, while conlangs and the specific content of individual's webpages remain the intellectual property of the individual creator (unless specified), all other work done on the cultural and historical aspects of IB become common property.
IB is and is not alt-history. Some have contended that IB is an example of alt-history, but I tend to disagree with that position. I have generally understood alt-history to be the careful alteration of an expanse of history based upon the change of one critical "point of departure", and then sitting back and watching History shunt down the other pant leg of Time. Some classic examples are "What if the South Won the War?" and "What if Jesus of Nazareth died in infancy?" The essence of alt-history as I understand it is the alteration of a single point.
In the Dream Time -- the begining of IB -- I would have agreed that the project was alt-history as much as conlanging or conculturing. His was just such a careful creation that alt-historians love; and in fact, Andrew advertised his creaton in alt-historical forums online. Our one POD was the remaining in Britain of some level of Roman culture and influence. This was translated into the revitalisation of Romano-British culture and the birth of a Romano-British culture and kingdom in the place of the purely Celtic Welsh culture and kingdom of *here*.
This worked reasonably well when perhaps a half dozen people were involved, and all of us were focussed on Kemr itself. Once we began admitting people with a broader view -- interested in countries outside of Britain -- the "trouble" began. The single POD was no longer sufficient to support the newly injected creative ideas, and while some efforts at connecting the new PODs with the "original" were made, it became eventually clear that IB would not remain a classic example of alt-history.
A statement on How IB functions and on choosing a region to develop [18-AUG-2003]: Realistically, IB operates under Ytterbion's Special Rules of Creation. Basically, the chief rule by which IB operates is: "The (overall) history and culture of *there* ought to be similar to that of *here*." In other words it ought to be familliar. That means that a lot of countries get imported in toto from *here* to *there* without any actual thought. Also, countries *there* tend to take on archetypal roles that are familliar from *here*. Florida-Caribbea is basically going through a similar phase the USA did in the 19th century, right down to strong nationalistic ideals and manifest destiny. SNORist Russia plays the same basic part Soviet Russia did *here*: the "evil empire", though of a religio-nationalistic bent rather than a communist bent. Naturally, the Federated Kingdoms play the same part the British Empire played *here*: they present themselves as Top Nation, light of Civilisation and Culture to a benighted world, leader of the Free World, guarantor of Liberty and Decent Society, &c. &c. &c." ("Oh, deary me! ;)))))))!" says JvS and the rest of the non-british members !)
We do know some things about a lot of countries (like Luxembourg for example) that aren't specifically claimed by anyone. Certain places are "priviledged", however. German history, for example, can't be touched before 800AD; any British country would be very difficult for someone to take on at this point (though a region could be explored).
An earlier understanding of how IB functions [06-APR-2001] and an early reference to QSS: "One rule of ill Bethisad seems to be that if you can flesh out a part of it with a history, a geography and a language then it is yours to play with.[AS]" -- "And so long as it fits with what is known of IB already. Can't go around having these Nouveaux French conquering the SLC or something dreadful like that!PB"