Exciting Scenes from Last Week:
On Monday I blogged on the Other Earth (I invite you to click on the tab above and read all about it). That other earth might best be called a “spatial” world as conceived by Hawkings, which is to say, a completely natural phenomenon. Since that universe is only one notch (so to speak) from our own, the laws of physics hold true there except for one thing. There is a strong influx of creative and variable energy there which allows for the manipulation of matter and energy – or to be more pedestrian about it, there is magic on that Other Earth.
This, however, is not what most people think of when they imagine alternate universes.
Instead, people tend to think and the literature of Science Fiction tends to portray what I call “temporal” universes. These are earths where, in my view, something significant or several significant events occurred differently at some point in history and thus the whole world turned out different. In fact, that is what the Gaian people – humans from a very technologically advanced earth call these time created universes: the Worlds.
Let me first say that unless the event is significant, chances are history won’t remember. Family history might be changed for a time; even national history in some small ways, but eventually the changes will fade or blend into the background and this universe will go on without division. History paints with a very broad brush.
In order to create a new universe (a new timeline) the change must be historic. Think of Alexander (the Great) being assassinated with his father and so he never conquers the Persians and never becomes “great.” Lincoln surviving his assassination attempt, on the other hand, might not be enough by itself to change things since Johnson, his vice-president thrust into the presidency, pretty much followed Lincoln’s outline for reconstruction. In a couple of thousand years, what will it matter? Then again, tanks suddenly appearing on the Appian Way and rumbling into Ancient Rome would certainly change things.
In the Gaian universe, by way of comparison, the steam engine was discovered by the Greeks centuries before it was “discovered” in Alexandria. AND, there were people back then who became aware of the steam discovery and who had some notion of what it might be good for. As a result, Alexander the Great laid rail lines all the way up the silk road to China…
The thing about these Worlds which is important from a story perspective is first, to acknowledge that our earth is not at the pinnacle of technological advancement. There are all sorts of earths with a technology we cannot imagine who are already traveling the worlds or just learning to travel among the worlds. The second point is to realize that not everyone traveling the worlds will have the best interests of others at heart. In fact, some will be downright dangerous – and some might not even be entirely human…
So, you might ask which is the real (original) timeline? The only possible answer is they all are. There is no reason to distinguish any line on that level, to think one is more original than another.. Of course, some do. The Sorvee, for example, regard themselves as real and everyone else more like intelligent animals needing to be controlled and trained. The Shinarites imagine people from other worlds as hardly more than shadows of real life. But thus the stories…
Now, there is another form of “alternate universes” but that will have to wait until the next post.
At present there are no stories of the Worlds above. In time, barring any significant historical change, there will be.