Alternate Worlds Story

Akin to the sixth type is the seventh type of science fiction story: the alternate worlds story. Imagine that, in the beginning, there was only one Earth but that different possible Earths branched off from ours at various points in time. Let's say that every time something could have happened two different ways, another possibility world came into being. On our world, there was a World War I which the Allies won; in another world, the Allies lost; in our world, we did not avoid the Second World War; in a third world, they did; in a fourth world, the U.S. got into World War II, and lost to the Germans who took possession of America, giving the course of history yet another turn. So on, and on, and on. The result is a vast, indeed an infinite number of possible Earths existing side-by-side, each invisible to the other but nonetheless real. This is, basically, the theory of other dimensions beyond our own, dimensions in a romantic sense rather than the mathematical. Specific science fiction novels that deal with alternate worlds include: my own Hell's Gate; Worlds ofthe Imperium, The Time Benders, and The Other Side of Time by Keith Laumer; The Gate of Time by Philip Jose Farmer; and The Wrecks of Time by Michael Moorcock.

While the alternate worlds and the altered past stories are similar in essence, the alternate world background allows a hero from our own Earth and time, the here-and-now, to investigate new places and encounter odd wonders with the familiar perspective of a modern-day American.

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