"In this tale, Europe is a Chinese colony and it describes the Chinese government’s suppression of an uprising planned by European "restoration" rebels. The Chinese Emperor orders the generalissimo in charge of Europe, Wen Suchen, to suppress the rebellion with flying warships. Generalissimo Wen not only conquers all seventy-two European nations but continues on to the moon and Jupiter as well. The most marvellous part of this tale is that Jupiter is described as being covered completely with gold and abounding with flora and fauna–the perfect destination for migration. Wen is then appointed Governor of Jupiter. From then on, the means of communication and transportation between Earth and Jupiter is, naturally, by flying ship."
The story? Lu Shi'e's Xin Ye Sou Pu Yan (1909). A shame it will never be translated--I think it'd make for fascinating reading, if only as a counterpoint to the Victorian colonialist sf.
(I got this from Chen Pingyuan's "From Popular Science to Science Fiction: An Investigation of 'Flying Machines'", about flying machines in 19th century and early 20th century Chinese sf. Oh, how I wish I'd found this before finishing Victoriana; I'd have loved to write about it, since I could then have good reason to bring in the Fabulous Airship of 1897).
That's absolutely adorable. I was thinking just the other day - what would have happened if Columbus had been exactly right? If, instead of discovering a great big continental land mass athwart his path to Cathay, he had, as he expected, sailed straight into Beijing harbour about a month after leaving Spain?
Economically, militarily and technologically, in 1492 Europe was weaker than China. Nonetheless, I doubt China would have overrun its neighbour to the East. Things might have become really interesting when the Manchus took over, though.
you're right, of course, but I was deliberately trying not to go there. It would make me think about just what Zheng He was doing, and that'll tie me up for months if I let it.
My guess is, even in that unique window of exploration the Chinese court wouldn't follow through aggressively (though there might be demands for tribute, which, given the mismatch in size and armament of ships, just might be forthcoming). What could happen is a massive maritime militarisation in Europe in response to the new 'threat,' which could mess up all sorts of power balances between European states and with the Ottomans. Especially if it became known that Zheng He, too, was a Muslim.
Stop. Stop stop stop.
Phew. back to work.
I was wondering what would have happened if Arab Egypt had repaired/kept up the old Suez Canal. Zheng He visited the Red Sea so could have taken some of his smaller ships through to the Mediterranean. I doubt the old canal was big enough to let a treasure ship through. :)
But I agree that the Chinese didn't seem interested in conquest.
Interesting thought... apart from size, the other problem is navigating northwards in the upper Red Sea - contrary winds, rip currents and thick reefs make it really difficult at any time of year, according to my sources. Do you know if he completed the hajj? (was that what he was up to, quietly?)
Levathes isn't bad, but she makes some mistakes and doesn't use the most recent material on Zheng He.
The two best books on the good Admiral--and I did a lot of research on him for my novel--are Edward Dreyer's Zheng He: China and the Oceans in the Early Ming Dynasty, 1405-1413 (Pearson/Longman, 2007) and Paul Rozario's Zheng He and the Treasure Fleet, 1405-1433 (SNP, 2005). The Dreyer is particularly good on the most likely dimensions of the bao chuan (treasure ships).