Title: Alternate universe


Science Fiction

Speculative Fiction

Location: Robert Harris, Fatherland Harry Turtledove, Second Contact Simon Hawke, Time Wars Series

Pagination: 0

Illustrations: - a wormhole, or a tear in the space-time continuum - space/time travel - doubles

Document Type: Graffiti


Alternate universes are based on the premise that for every event, or decision made, in human history, there is a splinter dimension/universe where the alternative choices are played out. This fiction experiments with the proliferation of possibilities that can be generated from posing the question "what if?" This subgenre has affinities with speculative fiction in general; however, where speculative fiction looks to the future, alternate universes look to the past as the source of possibilities in the present. As such, there is generally a strong historical background to this type of fiction, despite the technological influence of science fiction. The feasibility of the plot relies on cause-and-effect structures, resembling the logical ordering of the scientific method, although the complexity of these chains can in fact be staggering to contemplate. There is a strong philosophical undertone to this imaginative exploration, usually leading to a moral along the lines of "it is not man's place to meddle with fate." This fiction can trace two lines of thought: the global and the personal. On the global scale, key historical events, such as the fall of the Roman Empire, Columbus's discovery of North America, or the course of World War II, are given emblematic treatment. These are represented as major turning points of history, and the alternatives are explored as a meditation on current human society as a whole. On the personal level, decisions and moments in the (fictional) life of the protagonist are played out to a more introspective end, inviting the reader to also reflect on the choices he/she has made. See also: Speculative Fiction