In preparation for the launch of my novel Junction, here are my worldbuilding notes from back in 2015. (warning, this isn’t exactly what happens in the book)
When a wormhole to an alien world is discovered in the New Guinea highlands (just over the border in the Indonesian province of West Papua, to be precise) how does the world react?
Rapid response is how they’ll react. Australian and American troops Robertson Barracks and Lavarack Barracks will be on site within hours of the discovery, followed days later by the Papua New Guinea Defense Force (PNGDF) and as UNPROFOR (United Nations Protection Force? Ugh! Who invited them?). The the Indonesian National Armed Forces are last to arrive at their own party. Did I say party? I meant of course VIOLATION OF BORDERS!
After an initial (failed) rush to claim the wormhole, Indonesia forms a “mutual exploration bloc” with Malaysia and Brunei. They try to rope in the rest of ASEAN, but nobody wants to join them because of the awful things they’re doing in West Papua as they build up infrastructure on their side of the border. Whoops! Did we dump defoliant on the rain forest AGAIN?
The Papua New Guinea government is torn between China and Australia/USA, with the army behind the first and the establishment behind the second. As time goes on and the American fist tightens, popular sentiment in New Guinea starts to swing toward China. Everyone is carefully avoiding the word “coup,” because the (PRC-trained) New Guinean army is in the highlands getting shot at by the Indonesians.
Australia is also torn between a government that knows its best interests align with the USA and increasing anti-American sentiment in the populace. The Australian left-wing is opposed to persecuting a war against the New Guineans, while the right wing is livid at how casually their country has been turned into a limb of American imperialism. There’s a lot of talk about avoiding a “second Gallipoli.” There is a hard deadline on the current American/Australian/New Guinean alliance, and it’s the next Australian election.
China is much more cautious and pragmatic, and is using the wormhole as a way to generate good press. Of course the westerners are going to steal this important resource from the natives. One age of European imperialism was enough, and we will do whatever is necessary to prevent another. The fleet of war ships south of the Philippines is just there to ensure nobody does anything regrettable.
The USA is feeling the heat. They managed to get their people on the ground at the wormhole site (or rather people who take orders from the people who take orders from their people). But now they have to justify their presence to the American citizenry and the international community.
Internationally, it’s all nods and smiles about exploring the opportunities of the wormhole in coalition with all of humanity (yes, China and Russia, you’re invited too). But internally, the only way to keep public good will (and funding) flowing is by whipping up a state of frenzy. Indonesia can’t maintain the security of the wormhole (and did someone say “terrorists” ?). The PNG armed forces were trained by China, for peat’s sake! Even the Australians are going to turn against us! If anyone is going to do anything “regrettable,” you bet your ass it’s going to be us!