alternate reality n.

= alternate world n.

SF Criticism


  • 1950 J. D. MacDonald Shadow on Sand in Thrilling Wonder Stories Oct. 27/1 page image John D. MacDonald bibliography

    We have made the basic and very important discovery of a twin planetary system corresponding to our own, separated from us only by a symbolic logician’s definition of reality. This is not a completely physical and technical phenomenon. It is a philosophical phenomenon. In simplest terms the formula can be expressed this way: The twin world exists because any definitive explanation of reality presupposes alternate realities. Thus the doorway was achieved by the creation of unreality. Call it negative matter if you will. A sphere where there is no reality must, through the application of the basic formula, be a bridge between realities.

  • 1960 Fantastic Dec. 57 page image

    A strange but compelling story of a man’s search for a way out of the maze of alternate realities in which we all live—and dream.

  • 1968 K. Laumer Assignment in Nowhere 51 Keith Laumer bibliography

    Uncrossable, that is, until the year 1897, when two Italian scientists, Maxoni and Cocini, stumbled on a principle which changed the course of history—of a billion histories. They created a field in which the energy of normal temporal flow was deflected at what we may consider right angles to the normal direction. Objects and individuals enclosed in the field then moved, not forward in time as in nature, but across the lines of alternate reality.

  • 1978 G. S. Elrick Science Fiction Handbook 30 George S. Elrick bibliography

    Alternate reality, (fiction) another—equally valid but not always attainable—way of experiencing existence. Implicit in the concept is the postulate that there may be a multiplicity of universes nested together, Chinese-box fashion, though each discrete universe normally is oblivious of the others.

  • 1984 D. Brin Practice Effect i. i. 1 David Brin bibliography

    By using zievatronics alternate realities appear to be almost within our reach, presenting possibilities for bypassing both space and time.

  • 1989 Asimov’s Science Fiction Dec. 175/2

    Serving as a kind of space-time Metro with gates leading into other worlds, other times, other alternate realities.

  • 1989 G. A. Effinger in Asimov’s Science Fiction Feb. 120 George Alec Effinger

    When they returned to T0, Placide and Fein discovered that the present was just as they’d left it, that their excursion in time had not changed the past, but rather created a new alternate reality.

  • 1989 L. Frankowski Flying Warlord 195

    ‘What? No. I'm not all right, you idiot! I'm dead! Don’t you realize that we just saw me die?’ ‘But you know that this is some kind of alternate reality. It’s not exactly real.’

  • 1992 L. Tuttle Lost Futures 95 Lisa Tuttle

    We’re not bound by the same limitations, and we can become aware of alternate realities.

  • 1996 L. Shepard in Vermillion Oct. 9

    Late at night he would tell me stories about a terrifying alternate reality into which any child might stumble… The children that fell victim to the allure of this other reality were transformed into horrid birdlike creatures that spent their days squabbling and fighting.

  • 2016 SFX (#280) Dec. 30/3 page image

    the ’80s seem to be treated differently to the ’60s and ’70s. It’s almost as if the decade is viewed as an alternate reality where everything is familiar yet different.

Research requirements

antedating 1950

Earliest cite

John D. MacDonald, 'Shadow on the Sand'

Research History
Matthew Hoyt submitted a 1978 cite from George Elrick's "Science Fiction Handbook".
Jeff Prucher submitted a 1989 cite from Norman Spinrad's book review column in Asimov's.
Jeff Prucher submitted a 1996 cite from Lucius Shepard's "Vermillion".
Douglas Winston submitted a 1968 cite from Keith Laumer's "Assignment in Nowhere".
Douglas Winston submitted a cite from a reprint of George Alec Effinger's "Everything But Honor"; Mike Christie verified the cite in the 1989 original magazine appearance.
Douglas Winston submitted a 1989 cite from Leo Frankowski's "The Flying Warlord".
Fred Galvin submitted a cite from a 1963 reprint of John D. MacDonald's "Shadow on the Sand"; Fred Galvin later verified its first appearance in the Oct. 1950 Thrilling Wonder Stories.

Last modified 2020-12-16 04:08:47
In the compilation of some entries, HDSF has drawn extensively on corresponding entries in OED.