Yesterday, you found this place deserted. Well, that wasn’t exactly yesterday…. That was today in the alternative world to this one.
‘Or perhaps,’ said Arnold, ‘I'll get fed up with the whole conversation, pull out a gun and shoot you.’ ‘Quite possibly,’ admitted Webb, ‘except that I'm pretty sure you, on this Earth, haven’t got one. Don’t forget, though, that in millions of those alternative worlds I'll beat you on the draw.’
Maybe it was some sort of alternative world we saw, showing us what could happen if we didn’t work hard at our marriage. It could have been a sort of warning of what could happen to some people. But not us, of course!
The text mentions the alternative consequences of the Second World War, of which the two most brilliant examples are Philip K. Dick’s The Man in the High Castle (1962) and Sarban’s The Sound of His Horn (1952). The latter once appeared in paperback editions with an introduction by Kingsley Amis, whose interest in alternative-worlds is well known.
Science Fiction elements are present in the ‘alternative world’ of Tolkien, the interplanetary stories of C. S. Lewis, the fantasies of Burgess and the later works of D. Lessing.
Ward Moore’s name lives on because of two novels, the satirical Greener Than You Think (1947), a great success in its time, and a classic alternative world story, Bring the Jubilee (1953), in which the hero lives in an America where the South won the Battle of Gettysburg; his interference in the battle to which he time-travels, causes the North to win. So matters turn out as we know them today. The wit and ingenuity of this story influenced more recent excursions into alternative history such as Harry Harrison’s A Transatlantic Tunnel, Hurrah!
An alternate world—some writers and commentators prefer the designation ‘alternative world’ on grammatical grounds—is an account of Earth as it might have become in consequence of some hypothetical alteration in history.
If alternative-world scenarios intrigue you…then this magazine is a must.
Perceiving the world—our particular world, as it is now—as ‘contingent’, a product of historical accident, merely one of millions or billions of possibilities: that’s sf at its heart, imagining alternative worlds future, past, or parallel.
The plot twists, turns and swoops in unpredictable ways, the rules of the alternative worlds are revealed more by implication than by exposition, and the familial and marital relationships among the characters get a little confusing at times.
A. E. van Vogt, "The Search"
Last modified 2020-12-16 04:08:47
In the compilation of some entries, HDSF has drawn extensively on corresponding entries in OED.