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Struggling to title a story

Lugh

#2 in my do-over universe begins in 1963, after the Cuban Missile Crisis. A major theme of the do-over people is curbing some unwise use of the CIA and military, beginning with the continuing escalation in Southeast Asia (not just Vietnam).

A chapter title in the previous story does reflect some officialdom at the time: "Where is Veet-Nam and Why Should I care about it?" My premise is that it's usually unwise to invade a country whose name you cannot produce. Nevertheless, I have to recognize that this would be cute, precious, and undesirable as a title, since "Veet-Nam" won't be associated with Vietnam.

The previous story title, "Tomorrow is another Day", comes from an early exchange between major characters, and fit the whole series.

How do other authors decide on titles?

So -- premises to address:
* Kennedy Administration
* American intervention without a real strategy
* Characters aim to stabilize and rationalize decisionmaking, not impose a new order.

***** SPOILERS BE BELOW *****

While the characters immediately get involved in helping rational elements of the Administration make better decisions, this is 1963. I intend to keep JFK from being assassinated, for I believe that he would not have escalated as did LBJ.

This is such a major point of departure from our history that it's hard to think of sequels, although I do have things in mind. It might very well go internal and looking at civil rights.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater
Updated:

@Lugh

If this book is all about the Kennedy era, then you might want to take a title from something he said, or slightly distort it , examples being: What can I do for my country? or What I can do for my country! Or maybe take a side step with My County?

I don't know if this will help you, but I often go through a number of titles while a book is in progress, but not always. If the book is focused on one significant event, then I usually title it for the event or linked events, like Day of Blood, Stand in Time, Will to Survive, Star Performance. If focused on one person or place, then I usually title it for the person or place, Mack, Rough Diamond, Rob Remembers, Michaels Mansion. Sometimes the title is drawn from the various activities in the story Interesting Times, Flames of Life, Times of Old. While others have the title come from a key aspect in the story like Play Ball, Hell Hound, Always a Marine, One Small Step, Odd Man in College.

Edit to add: A title should say a little about the story in the book, in some way, but it's main job is to get people's attention so they'll look closer. It's been my experience that shorter titles tend to do better than long titles, except where they're part of a series and the main part of the length is in the series name.

Replies:   Lugh  Crumbly Writer
Lugh

@Ernest Bywater

Absolutely great advice. I'm going with the line from his INaugural Address: ask not what your country can do for you -

Crumbly Writer

@Ernest Bywater

A title should say a little about the story in the book, in some way, but it's main job is to get people's attention so they'll look closer. It's been my experience that shorter titles tend to do better than long titles, except where they're part of a series and the main part of the length is in the series name.

I tend to take an alternate view, as character name titles often get lost in the shuffle. If you're publishing, which most here aren't, you want a title that's easy to find. A title like "Suzie" might locate hundreds of incorrect titles, so I like longer, clearly distinctive titles.

The key is: distinct and attention getting. Something simple but unusual like "Dinner at the Roadside Cafe" might be enough to get a reader to pull a book from a shelf, open a preview or open the first chapter, and that's essentially all the title is there for. While it should fit the book, it should be dictated by the book.

"Cuban Crisis" might be nice, especially if it presents an alternate ending to the Cuban Missile Crisis, but try not to think too literally in regards to titles.

REP

I have a vague recollection of President Kennedy's term being linked to King Author, but I don't recall the details. Perhaps, 'Camelot Continues'.

Replies:   Lugh
Lugh

@REP

I went with "Ask not..."

Yes, Camelot was a frequently used image. That being said, I tend to think of a camelot as a place one to which one goes to buy a used camel.

Replies:   REP  Zom
REP
Updated:

@Lugh

That's good. Chuckle, chuckle, chuckle.

You might have replied, came-a-lot

Zom

@Lugh

Sorry I came to this late. I would have suggested "A Fork in the Plaza".

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Zom

How about "The Shot Not Taken" or even "An Assassination Averted", though that might be considered a spoiler?

Replies:   Lugh
shinerdrinker

I'm kind of partial to "Tomorrow is Another Day 2: Electric Boogaloo."

Just kidding ;-)

I think you picked a great title.

Lugh

@Crumbly Writer

Those work as chapter titles after the event. As you point out, they would be spoilers.

I haven't yet figured out how I will stop the assassination, but having that as a Point of Departure for alternate history is the motivation of this story.

Interesting statistics -- when I enabled voting, with four chapters, prologue, and glossary, I came in with a 2 and an 8. I wish people that go low would explain.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater
Updated:

@Lugh


I haven't yet figured out how I will stop the assassination, but having that as a Point of Departure for alternate history is the motivation of this story.


Since the latest evidence is he was accidentally killed by the guard in the vehicle behind due to him not having any experience with the rifle concerned and accidentally firing when he draw the weapon around, all you need do is make sure the guard with the rifle is experienced and he gets the rifle around to shoot at Oswald before the guard puts his finger near the trigger. He can then exchange a few shots with Oswald, who did shoot, and miss a killing shot every time, only wounded him.

edit to add: read about it here:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colin_McLaren#JFK:_The_Smoking_Gun

he proved the killing shot came from the security guard who was NOT trained to use the rifle, and was a last moment change of duty.

Replies:   Lugh  Dominions Son
Lugh

@Ernest Bywater

There are any number of things that I can do to interfere with the act of assassination itself. Whether or not that is the best thing for storytelling is another matter.

For example, there were numerous problems, some of which persist today, with the Secret Service. It's not their fault when Congress underfunds them so that the available agents are overworked and short on sleep. Things get more difficult when one looks at a culture of overworked agents who party hard to unwind -- which presents an opportunity for seduction in the sense of a "reverse honey trap" by loyal people.

Yet another problem was that certain assignments, such as the Presidential driver and the supervisor sitting next to him, were given on seniority. Much as I hate to admit it, reflexes slow down with age. In the real assassination, Kennedy probably could have survived the first bullet that hit him. Had the driver taken immediate evasive action, the second might have missed. There are arguments both ways about what he should have done, but I find it hard to accept that accelerating would not be wise. I recognize that he was the middle car of three.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater

@Lugh

Whether or not that is the best thing for storytelling is another matter.


If you want a simple way to avoid JFK's death in Dallas, the easiest is to have the guard assigned to use the rifle talk one of the other agents in the car with him to take the rifle, one who is more experienced with rifles. That way JFK gets shot and wounded but his head isn't blown apart. The agent with the rifle then opens up on Oswald and you can go from there any way you want. It's by far the easiest. The next easiest is to have the drive not take the long way around the plaza. You need to choose what you want as an outcome and then use the option that gives it. Having someone shoot Oswald while that guard still has the rifle won't stop the guard accidentally blowing JFK's head apart, so he still dies. Speeding up may or may not affect the shot from the follow up car, hard to say.

Replies:   Lugh  Crumbly Writer
Dominions Son

@Ernest Bywater

Since the latest evidence is he was accidentally killed by the guard


There is no evidence at all that Kennedy was killed by anyone other than Oswald.

The demonstration of the so called magic bullet from the trial in the movie is a lie. Kennedy and Connally were not sitting on the same level. Kennedy was sitting up on the trunk of the car so he was higher than Connally.

Placed in the proper spatial context, not only is it possible to put one bullet through all seven wounds, it's possible to put a laser through all seven wounds. No magic curving bullet necessary.

Also, the bullet recovered was is not pristine as many claim, it is flattened along it's length. The bullet is a type that is designed to tumble after penetrating the target. The flattening is likely from the bullet hitting the inside of Kennedy's rib cage sideways.

Also several groups within the last decade or so have set up and successfully replicated the shot with the same type of rifle and ammunition that Oswald had.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Lugh

@Ernest Bywater

From a political standpoint, I'd far rather prevent the assassination attempt from taking place than to interfere with the attack. Consider the demands for investigation that would take place with the latter, and how much that could distract the President.

Dominions Son

@Lugh

From a political standpoint, I'd far rather prevent the assassination attempt from taking place than to interfere with the attack. Consider the demands for investigation that would take place with the latter, and how much that could distract the President.


That could be simple or complicated depending on whether or not you want to get into one of the assassination conspiracy theories or not.

If not, have the MC assassinate Oswald before Kennedy's visit to Dallas.

Ernest Bywater

@Lugh

From a political standpoint, I'd far rather prevent the assassination attempt from taking place than to interfere with the attack. Consider the demands for investigation that would take place with the latter, and how much that could distract the President.


Have Oswald slip and hurt himself that morning, so he can't go out.

Ernest Bywater

@Dominions Son


There is no evidence at all that Kennedy was killed by anyone other than Oswald.


I suggest you take out to read McLaren's work. He did an analysis of the information and evidence already available, but he had no hidden agenda to hide anything.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Crumbly Writer

@Ernest Bywater

That way JFK gets shot and wounded but his head isn't blown apart.

To add to your arguments, by all accounts, the head wound grew substantially after the autopsy was performed--implying the autopsy was designed as much to hide the evidence, as it was to determine the cause of death (i.e. digging out evidence of the Secret Service's bullet).

On the other hand, if you want a more 'exciting' alternative, staging a 'fake' assasination attempt (say from a building facing away from the motorcade, just to panic the secret service), would deter the motorcade from the fateful plaza and make everyone much more watchful. It wouldn't eliminate the shooter, but it eliminates his best opportunity, and leaving him as a random story elements will keep the tension over the shooting alive during the course of the story.

It also serves to counter the effects that Johnson had on Kennedy's legacy--whether that's viewed as good (the Vietnam War) or ill (Civil Rights).

Dominions Son

@Ernest Bywater

I suggest you take out to read McLaren's work. He did an analysis of the information and evidence already available, but he had no hidden agenda to hide anything.


Sorry, any analysis that starts with it couldn't have been Oswald has gone off the rails before it got started and isn't worth reading.

Oswald being the sole assassin is 100% possible and this has been repeatedly proven in practical tests replicating the circumstances of the assassination.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater

@Dominions Son

Sorry, any analysis that starts with it couldn't have been Oswald has gone off the rails before it got started and isn't worth reading.

Oswald being the sole assassin is 100% possible and this has been repeatedly proven in practical tests replicating the circumstances of the assassination.


He didn't start with any assumptions, and didn't set out to prove things one way or another. But did find the evidence of a shot coming from the SS guards in the chase car, and the evidence of the fatal shot matches that of a bullet from the SS rifle and not Oswald's rifle. The SS Guard with the AR15 was not familiar with and not used to using a rifle. The conclusion reached from the available evidence is Kennedy was accidentally killed by the SS Guard when he was responding to the first shot from Oswald. I suggest you read the book The Smoking Gun.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@Ernest Bywater

The SS Guard with the AR15


Another red flag. I am skeptical that SS agents would have even been issued AR15's during the Kennedy Dallas motorcade.

While the AR15, developed in 1959 was pitched to the government, they rejected it and the M16 developed on the AR15 platform didn't go into service until 1964, the year after Kennedy was assassinated.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater

@Dominions Son

Another red flag. I am skeptical that SS agents would have even been issued AR15's during the Kennedy Dallas motorcade.


Be skeptical, but it was identified as an AR15 by in the Secret Service files as being issued that day. McLaren, a police investigator and analyst, treated the matter as a Cold Case File, and went through all the records on file about. Everything he mentions comes direct from the existing files.

docholladay

@Lugh

From a political standpoint, I'd far rather prevent the assassination attempt from taking place than to interfere with the attack. Consider the demands for investigation that would take place with the latter, and how much that could distract the President.


Have a last minute change in plans. The cause of the change should be some thing which sounds logical.

REP
Updated:

@Lugh

Why try to create a situation with significant alternatives that deviate from the facts. Use the premise that Oswald was the person firing both of the shots that hit Kennedy. Then, have the second bullet graze Kennedy's head, instead of a solid hit, and explain it by Oswald being in a rush to get off his second shot, which is also true based on that premise.

Replies:   Lugh
Lugh

@REP

Awk! In my story, it is a given that IF JFK goes to Dallas, Oswald is a lone gunman who somehow will be stoppedd. Frankly,the details of the assassination are of relatively little interest to me for this story. What is of interest is not having LBJ reacting to the Gulf of Tonkin, and indeed JFK avoiding a huge Vietnam involvement. I haven't decided how to avoid killing JFK, but I don't want to get heavily involved with it. Getting the Secret Service better disciplined and better rested might fit with other themes.

Struggling to write on a tablet since my housemate fried my main computer last night
Reactions are interesting: as far asy votes, (1+2)=10

docholladay

@Lugh

Any presidential travel has to have plans for alternate routes. Why not just use a different route avoiding the location of Oswald altogether.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@docholladay

Any presidential travel has to have plans for alternate routes. Why not just use a different route avoiding the location of Oswald altogether.


Even simpler, have Oswald miss the money shot.

richardshagrin

What the character can do fairly reasonably, rather than going to Dallas, is to anonymously tip the secret service that Lee Harvey Oswald plans to shoot the President on his next trip to Dallas. If Oswald doesn't get arrested it is likely that he will be observed enough to prevent his trip with a rifle to the Book Depository during the visit.

Ernest Bywater

@Lugh

I haven't decided how to avoid killing JFK,


Just have a hangfire when Oswald goes to fire, by the time he clears the breach and loads again it'll be too late to get started. or have the misfire occur on the second shot - faulty ammo does happen.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Ernest Bywater

Just have a hangfire when Oswald goes to fire, by the time he clears the breach and loads again it'll be too late to get started. or have the misfire occur on the second shot - faulty ammo does happen.

Sadly, simply changing history isn't really suited for a do-over story, as it's expected the only significant difference between the first time and the do-over is the main character's presence. So for the story to work, the main character has to personally impact the results (i.e. prevent the assassination from occurring).

As that will be a central feature of the story--even if it's not a central focus--it's important to get the details right from the start, rather than a 'I forgot to buy ammunition' moment.

Replies:   awnlee jawking
awnlee jawking

@Crumbly Writer

I think it would be a better twist if, in the original universe, JFK had turned out to be a disastrously bad president and in the do-over the protagonist is responsible for getting Oswald to assassinate him.

Not many SOL authors seem to take that route, whereby the history we know and 'love' came about because a time-traveller acted to prevent a far worse future.

AJ

Replies:   Capt Zapp
REP

@Lugh

Since your do-over character is to stop the assassination and has the necessary information, have him in the Book Depository and rattle the door knob of the room Oswald is in as Oswald takes his first shot. Oswald reacts to the sound of the door knob, which interrupts the second killing shot.

Dominions Son
Updated:

@REP


Since your do-over character is to stop the assassination and has the necessary information, have him in the Book Depository and rattle the door knob of the room Oswald is in as Oswald takes his first shot.


That won't work. The floor of the Book Depository that Oswald used as a shooting position was a big open floor plan warehouse space. He wasn't close to a door and he was surrounded by 5-6 foot high stacks of large boxes filled with books.

I still think the best plan for a time traveler to stop the assassination is to take Oswald out before Kennedy even arrives in Dallas.

On the other hand, if something more dramatic is desired, a deliberate time traveler would have fairly good information on where the the fatal bullet from Oswald would be at any given time and all the time in the world to calculate shooting location and trajectory to deflect the fatal shot with another bullet. :)

Replies:   Crumbly Writer  REP
Capt Zapp

@awnlee jawking

I think it would be a better twist if, in the original universe, JFK had turned out to be a disastrously bad president and in the do-over the protagonist is responsible for getting Oswald to assassinate him.


I seem to recall a story from somewhere that had a time traveler changed history because in HIS original universe, both JFK and Jackie were killed. Unfortunately, that is all I remember of the story.

Crumbly Writer

@Dominions Son

On the other hand, if something more dramatic is desired, a deliberate time traveler would have fairly good information on where the the fatal bullet from Oswald would be at any given time and all the time in the world to calculate shooting location and trajectory to deflect the fatal shot with another bullet. :)

That doesn't make for a terribly believable story, however. Phoning in a call to the Secret Service, or waiting for him in the Book Repository itself would make for a more dramatic confrontation. But if you're trying to affect the trajectory of bullets, might I suggest a fair sprinkling of fairy dust? :)

@Capt Zapp

I seem to recall a story from somewhere that had a time traveler changed history because in HIS original universe, both JFK and Jackie were killed. Unfortunately, that is all I remember of the story.

That makes sense, save the pretty girl you could never land, rather than the President of the United States! Though it does make for a more compelling twist to the story.

Dominions Son

@Crumbly Writer

That doesn't make for a terribly believable story, however.


By the way DARPA has demonstrated that it's possible with existing technology to hit one bullet with another. It just takes more computing power than can be applied in real time.

Sorry, I call bullshit on the suggestion that it would take any more fairy dust than time travel itself.

Replies:   Grant
Grant

@Dominions Son

It just takes more computing power than can be applied in real time.

And since they're from the future their iWatch will have all the computing power needed to do it in real time...

I find all the suggestions interesting, but what it really boils down to is What is the story about? Where is it headed? How close to reality do you want it to be? Then choose whichever plot device works best within those parameters.

Replies:   Lugh
Ernest Bywater

@REP

Oswald reacts to the sound of the door knob, which interrupts the second killing shot.


That assumes Oswald was the one who made the killing shot.

Another option would be to stand on the edge of the road near where the car is when the shooting takes place, and shout out "Contact" - JFKs military training should kick in and have him duck, pulling Jackie down with him.

Replies:   REP
awnlee jawking

@Crumbly Writer

That makes sense, save the pretty girl you could never land, rather than the President of the United States!


And it's significantly different from the cliched stories in which several conscientious, hardworking Americans die in order to save the president's blond-haired blue-eyed moppet.

AJ

Zom

@Lugh

prevent the assassination attempt from taking place

Hence my suggestion of "Fork in the Plaza" as a title.

The simple change to the route through Dallas where at the last moment the motorcade goes straight down Main Street instead of diverging thru Dealey Plaza would have prevented the assasination attempt, even though all the players were still in place.

I don't know if anyone has explained why that diversion took place originally anyway. Oswald must have known the route in detail.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son
Updated:

@Zom


I don't know if anyone has explained why that diversion took place originally anyway. Oswald must have known the route in detail.


Main street goes through the center of Dealey plaza. Even if the route hadn't been changed, Oswald would have still had line of sight for a shot at the President.

In fact, if the motorcade had stayed on Main, while it would have been a longer shot, arguably the angle from where Oswald was shooting would have been better.

Replies:   Zom
REP

@Dominions Son

Would hearing someone moving through the stacks work as a distraction.

Replies:   Dominions Son  Lugh
REP

@Ernest Bywater


That assumes Oswald was the one who made the killing shot.


In a prior post, Lugh, indicated that his premise was Oswald made the second killing shot.

Dominions Son

@REP

Would hearing someone moving through the stacks work as a distraction.


Maybe, it would depend quite a bit on Oswald's temperament and nerves. From what I recall reading, Oswald had moved a number of boxes, creating a bit of a fort around the window he shot from. He would have been fairly secure from discovery until someone was right on top of him.

On the other hand, he would only have to flinch a tiny bit to spoil the kill shot. I don't think the sound of foot prints would be enough to do it. But maybe a much louder noise like an air horn or a flash-bang grenade set off at just the right moment would do the trick.

Dominions Son

@Dominions Son

On the other hand, he would only have to flinch a tiny bit to spoil the kill shot. I don't think the sound of foot prints would be enough to do it. But maybe a much louder noise like an air horn or a flash-bang grenade set off at just the right moment would do the trick.


Maybe trip the building's fire alarm at just the right moment.

Crumbly Writer

@Dominions Son

But maybe a much louder noise like an air horn or a flash-bang grenade set off at just the right moment would do the trick.

Did they even have flash-bang grenades back then? I'm not sure you're allowed to bring back modern technology in certain types of do-overs (i.e. when only traveling back to the 20th Century).

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater

@Crumbly Writer

Did they even have flash-bang grenades back then?


no, they're form the 1970s, but a large firework like the US M80 would do well as a distraction.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Ernest Bywater

no, they're form the 1970s, but a large firework like the US M80 would do well as a distraction.

Assuming he's not carrying a spare pistol in case he ran across an officer trying to escape. Announcing yourself before you can confront and surprise someone seems like a recipe for disaster. However, if you merely want to distract someone momentarily, and then flee as he himself escapes, it might work. But then, if you want to create tension, disaster works perfectly.

REP
Updated:

@Dominions Son


fairly secure from discovery until someone was right on top of him.


Seems true, but he fired the first shot and anyone near him would hear the shot. Hearing footsteps before the second shot would likely rattle him. Perhaps enough to miss the second shot, assuming of course Lugh has him take a second shot.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@REP

Hearing footsteps before the second shot would likely rattle him. Perhaps enough to miss the second shot, assuming of course Lugh has him take a second shot.

By that time, he'd be fully committed, assuming it was more important to kill the President, a very real possibility, than being caught. I doubt he'd hesitate over footsteps, though a loud explosion might surprise him--whether it's enough to cause him to miss entirely is a stretch though. A small explosive, at a distance and muffled by boxes of books, might also not be enough of a distraction--as opposed to the percussive effects and blinding light of a flashbomb thrown over the man-made barrier.

But then, that's why we should all read the story ... when it's finally written, rather than second guessing the author! He's got all of our opinions, but he hasn't even reached the point of planning the actual assault as it's not the central point of the story (though it will be important to the readers).

Grant

Why does he even have to take a shot?
He could just as easily have tripped on the bath mat after taking a leak that morning & ended up in hospital with a broken arm or wrist.

Zom

@Dominions Son

In fact, if the motorcade had stayed on Main, while it would have been a longer shot, arguably the angle from where Oswald was shooting would have been better.

I think the key is that if they had stayed on Main they would not have slowed to a near stop for the sharp turn, and the speed of the vehicle combined with the distance and the side angle would have made the shot very much more difficult.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@Zom

I think the key is that if they had stayed on Main they would not have slowed to a near stop for the sharp turn, and the speed of the vehicle combined with the distance and the side angle would have made the shot very much more difficult.


You are presuming that they wouldn't have slowed anyway for the crowd gathered in Dealey Plaza.

Also, the change in angle in isolation from the other factors, would have taken the governor out of the shot but would actually make the shot on Kennedy easier.

The difference in distance is not enough to make a significant difference in the difficulty of the shot.

You are correct though, that if they did not slow down, that would make the shot much more difficult.

However, staying on main would not inherently mean that they don't slow down.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer  Zom
Crumbly Writer

@Dominions Son

However, staying on main would not inherently mean that they don't slow down.

I think we've gone from helping a fellow author with story ideas into idle conjecture about largely unsubstantiated Kennedy assassination speculation. While thread drift isn't unusual here, I doubt any of these guesses will help with Lugh's story ideas.

I suggest that, if you all feel this strongly about the subject, you each write your own Kennedy era do-over story.

Replies:   Lugh
Zom

@Dominions Son

staying on main would not inherently mean that they don't slow down

Not sure about that. The corners into N Houston and particularly into Elm forced the vehicle to slow considerably. There would have been no reason to slow at all travelling straight down Main. Also, with the vehicle travelling basically away from Oswald, the receding target made much less of a sighting arc at a much lower arc speed than it would have travelling at a tangent, which provides the largest sighting arc, at much higher arc speed.

Still have no idea why they went down Elm.

Ernest Bywater

@Zom

Still have no idea why they went down Elm.


not sure where or when I read it, but I did see something about it being a mistake by the driver because he thought they were supposed to spend time to let JFK interact with the crowd more. If he was supposed to allow JFK lots of time to interact with the crowd was the case, he'd have gone slow through the plaza, anyway.

Dominions Son

@Zom

There would have been no reason to slow at all travelling straight down Main.


Yes there would have been, namely giving Kennedy time to grandstand for the crowd gathered in the plaza.

Also, with the vehicle travelling basically away from Oswald, the receding target made much less of a sighting arc at a much lower arc speed than it would have travelling at a tangent, which provides the largest sighting arc, at much higher arc speed.


Yes, but on the route they took, he had to fire at a very narrow angle to the wall of the book depository, a more awkward shooting position than had the motorcade remained on Main, where he could have shot closer to straight out the window of the book depository.

Lugh

@Grant

Thank you, Grant. The thrust of the story is NOT, NOT, NOT, the Kennedy assassination.

First 3 paragraphs give clues:

Going into 1963, the Administration had several major thrusts: Southeast Asia in foreign policy and civil rights at home. Next year held a presidential election, so politics could not be ignored. The First Family also were relative rock stars and cultural icons. Jackie held the eyes of the fashion world.

Southeast Asia was more a reflexive anticommunism than part of a coherent strategy. It's based on Sir Robert Thompson's work in Malaya, widely agreed to be, along with the work of President Magsaysay and Edward Lansdale in the Philippines, the great Western counterinsurgency successes. The Malayan challenge, however, differed from the situation in Vietnam in that the insurgents were of a different ethnicity than the Malay majority, and could be separated more easily. In many respects, the Philippines was a more relevant model, in that its focus was recognizing grievances, correcting them, bringing legitimacy to government, and genuinely welcoming former insurgents. An important difference, however, was that the former colonial power in the Philippines, the United States, was generally admired and truly intended to make the Philippines independent. In the former Indochina, the Americans were often seen as a colonial proxy for the French.

The various South Vietnamese and American official elements seemed to have converged on a "Strategic Hamlet Program" as the long-term approach to economic growth, security, and land reform.

*** SPOILERS ****

The thrust of the story is Vietnam with Johnson not in charge. You might note that Vietnam, even in early 1963, is the thrust of the initial four chapters is SE Asia.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Lugh

@REP

Would hearing someone moving through the stacks


LOL...I once worked for the Library of Congress, got distracted, and didn't notice the guards locking up. I did notice the lights being turned out, unfortunately at the breaker so the end-of-stack switches didn't work.

It took a LONG time to crawl to where I could pound on the door.

Lugh

@Crumbly Writer

Thank you, Crumbly Writer. My thrust is far more with how JFK handles Vietnam, not LBJ, and avoiding the assassination is rather a nit. I do NOT want to get into complex assassination matters, although, considering that the previous story in the universe was about Cuba, I may tie that in (e.g., Oswald was in the Fair Play for Cuba Committee).

At this point, the feedback wants me to have him trip and shoot himself in the groin.

Dominions Son

@Lugh

Thank you, Grant. The thrust of the story is NOT, NOT, NOT, the Kennedy assassination.


Then if the story is a simple alternate history rather than time travel / do-over, the simplest solution is to have Oswald miss the kill shot.

Replies:   Lugh
Lugh

@Dominions Son

Then if the story is a simple alternate history rather than time travel / do-over, the simplest solution is to have Oswald miss the kill shot.


That may be the case. I haven't firmly decided. There are some subplots where I have characters variously run reverse honey traps* on the Secret Service to improve their capabilities -- even more lacking by some of the problems of today -- with due regard that I've known some dedicated Secret Service people.

Another reverse honey trap may involve introducing countersniper teams in the Dallas PD. The Secret Service didn't have well-developed ones at the time. I do have a possible plot in which a female character or characters go skeet shooting with LBJ. The Secret Service never liked having loaded firearms within range of a principal, but they will allow it. In general, they have an agent stay very, very close to the other shooters. One lovely character may recognize that, and encourage the agent to stay close to her ("see these two protuberances under my sweater? Did you know they're handles for good-looking agents to keep me controlled?")

*A honey trap is an espionage technique to seduce someone to fuck his country. My conceit of a reverse honey trap is the use of sex, by loyal citizens, to get various officials to do what they should be doing.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son
Updated:

@Lugh


Another reverse honey trap may involve introducing countersniper teams in the Dallas PD. The Secret Service didn't have well-developed ones at the time.


I don't think any domestic law enforcement agency had a dedicated countersniper team at that time. Most still don't.

Snipers aren't a significant problem domestically. Most mass shootings are close quarters. I know of only one that involved a sniper, it was at a university and the local PD didn't have any snipers of their own.

Most police SWAT teams include at least a couple of trained snipers, but the first SWAT team was built by Philadelphia in 1964, the year after the Kennedy assassination.

There is a really good reason why the Secret Service doesn't have a dedicated counter sniper team. They don't need one.

Even just looking at presidential assassination attempts, successful or not, Oswald is the only sniper in the group. Even the Secret Service has no real use for a dedicated counter sniper team.

Replies:   Lugh
Ernest Bywater

To me, the simplest way to have killing shot miss would be to have the agent in the follow up vehicle assigned to carry and use the AR15 assigned to the team to be a senior agent who is with rifles, like the agent stood down at the airport that morning and meant to be the one with the rifle, quickly respond to the first shot and send a couple of rounds at Oswald, to make him duck and put off any follow on shots. That'll resolve the issue regardless of what version of the events people wish to go with.

Lugh

@Dominions Son

They have countersniper teams today, especially for events in DC such as the Inaugural or State of the Union. In general terms, they do deploy acoustic shot locators as well, which are used in some urban areas.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@Lugh

They have countersniper teams today


Must be a cushy boring job. They have never had anything to do.

Replies:   Lugh  Crumbly Writer
Lugh

@Dominions Son

They also have man-portable air defense missiles. As with Clancy, it wouldn't have done any good for a crashing jetliner, but I am confident the Service would die trying. There is at least one larger SLAMRAAM battery in the DC area, and smaller Avenger vehicles at the Pentagon and elsewhere.

I was near the Pentagon on 9/11. The SLAMRAAM, had it been present, might have deflected a 757, but it would have come down in mostly one piece in a populated area. One of the sad things on 9/11 was a couple of minutes after the BANG, I heard fighters overhead, at full military power--probably some survivor guilt.

Before Flight 93 was taken down, a couple of unarmed Air National Guard fighters, on training, were heading for it -- and expected to ram.

Crumbly Writer

@Dominions Son

Must be a cushy boring job. They have never had anything to do.

With zero job advancement, and few bonuses.

They also have man-portable air defense missiles. As with Clancy, it wouldn't have done any good for a crashing jetliner, but I am confident the Service would die trying.

The problem with anticipating 911, was that it was an aberration. No one had ever used an aircraft as a ramming vehicle fully loaded with fuel before. The vast majority of plane hijackings were simply to get to Cuba. Any law-enforcement group deals with recognized threats, not hypothetical possibilities never before tried.

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