|"Topanga and the Chatsworth Lancers"|
|Genre(s)||Alternate History, Science fiction|
|Publication date||June, 2015|
"Topanga and the Chatsworth Lancers" is a short work by Harry Turtledove, published by Roc in The Change: Tales of Downfall and Rebirth, edited by S.M. Stirling in June 2015. The story is a shared universe work set in Stirling's "Emberverse" series. However, it can function as a standalone story, as it does not reference any of the Emberverse's specific locales or characters, beyond a passing unnamed reference to Norman Arminger.
The story takes place about 30 years after The Change. The Dieoff killed about 98% of the population of Los Angeles County leaving small, independent communities to fend for themselves through subsistence farming and scavenging the various abandoned homes and businesses.
Bruce Delgado became the leader of Chatsworth in the San Fernando Valley and formed up a small army of knights called the Chatsworth Lancers. This let him consolidate a number of districts in the west part of the Valley under his rule. However, his expansion south to the Pacific Ocean was blocked by Topanga and the narrow passage through Topanga Canyon. Topanga wished to maintain its independence and while Chatsworth had fought several small wars with them, they failed to defeat them.
The story begins with Connor Tillman, a young, post-change Topangan coming home from patrol at the border and talking things over with his father Jared while Delgado contemplates ways and means of attacking.
In September 2015, Stirling published The Desert and the Blade, the 12th novel in the main Emberverse series. A number of chapters are set in and around Topanga some twenty years after the events in "Topanga and the Chatsworth Lancers". The Chatsworth Lancers have finally recovered from their defeat during the "Battle of the Avalanche" and regained control of the Valley. Once again they are probing Topanga looking for access to the Pacific.
Stirling borrows both the setting and characters using Jared and Connor Tillman along with Kwame Curtis as prominent characters. His acknowledgement at the beginning of the book reads:
- "To Harry Turtledove, for the loan of Topanga and the Chatsworth Lancers, with which he did things so intriguing I had to play with his toys. And very useful they turned out to be!"
There is a considerable similarity between the setting of the present story with that of The Valley-Westside War. Both are based on the premise of a major catastrophe destroying modern civilization, with the Los Angeles area becoming eventually divided into mini-states created by groups of survivors. In both works, Turtledove describes with considerable detail the political, economic and military set-up of these states and the causes and course of conflict between them. The author's note on Harry Turtledove before the beginning of the story does mention he has lived in the west end of the San Fernando Valley for the last thirty years so Turtledove's knowledge of the area is not surprising.
Turtledove's earlier, rarely reprinted ultra-short work "Half the Battle" also begins during a war between tiny feudalist states in a post-apocalyptic Los Angeles area.
"The Chatsworth Lancers" in the title is reminiscent of The Peshawar Lancers, the title of a stand-alone Stirling novel, unrelated to the Change series.