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Shifting Between Realities

Dameon's picture

Alright, I have a story I'm working on, and since we have this growing community of creative types, I'd like to draw off of that.

Here's the story concept: What if you discovered that you could, at will, shift between alternate realities? The catch? You have no control over where you go. The story will center around realities relatively close to our own, rather than vastly different ones.

The question is, how do you think having this ability would affect you? How would it affect your view of the world, and how would you use this power? Would you even use it under normal circumstances, knowing that every time, you have to start over and you're likely to have to deal with another version of yourself?

I think it's a complicated "what if" question, after all, what seems like a simple power could have some pretty serious repercussions. Having this ability would, once you came to understand it, have some serious impacts on the way you view and interact with the world. I would like my story to reflect this, and so, I'm interested in hearing how others might deal with such a power.

Last resort

Just so I'm following you, the way it would work is that you would shift into another universe and from that point, until you left, you would be the 'you' of that universe?

I guess the temptation would come in whenever something went seriously wrong in that version of your life. You took the wrong approach to a given problem, so you switch in the hope that the similar universe you move to will give you a second chance at that problem. Of course, it's very possible the universe you move to will not present that problem at all.

As powers go, this would one would be even better if you could reset to an earlier point in your life. Especially because many of our 'mistakes' only become apparent as mistakes after the fact, sometimes years after the fact.

I suspect, though, that given the randomness of it, I would be reluctant to use the power on a routine basis. I think I would wait until things were really bad with very little hope of getting better. Because there would always be a good chance that the world you're going to might be much, much worse than where you are. If I'm going to risk that, I would want to have a pretty compelling reason for it.

I'm afraid my comment isn't

I'm afraid my comment isn't directly relevant to your question, but I just wanted to point out that if you don't explain why the realities that are selected at random are similar to our current one in your story, you'll really annoy me and people like me.

If there are an infinite number of realities, the vast majority of them are nothing like this one. Of the ones that are like this one, very few points in space in them are capable of sustaining life.

If you want to make this story hang together in a way that wouldn't irritate people like me, you'll need a model that explains why the ability selects the realities it does (infinitely more so since these realities will be so similar), and a sensible explanation for the point in space and time that you arrive at when you switch between realities. Not to mention what happens to your momentum, any particles that were present in the space that you shifted to, etc, etc.

Perhaps your model is just that your conciousness can switch between all the different versions of you. If that's it, then you'll need to indicate what determines whether a different conciousness is a version of you or not, and what happens to the conciousness that you displace, not to mention what happens to the previous you.

There are so many things that annoy me about these kinds of stories. If you want to make one that I won't be irritated by, you've set yourself a big task.

Dameon's picture

Somebody missed the "soft

Somebody missed the "soft sf" tag ;)

I don't intend to explain any of the things you brought up in my story. There is no place in my narrative that I could imagine some of those questions being brought up by my character, and there's certainly no way to slip an explanation in without it looking artificial.

Look at it from a point of view that you've suddenly learned you can do this sort of thing: Are the first questions you ask really "Hey, what happened to my momentum? Where'd the particles that were here before me go?"

I want to approach this from the human side, not the technical side.

Didn't they call that

Didn't they call that Sliders?

The problem is what characteristics would be variable... I doubt many people would be "channel surfing" reality if every other world was as devoid of life as mars.

Personally, I would probably just leave well enough alone, stay home, and be happy with what the universe is.

But then, I never was one for adventure.

Dameon's picture

Really, I think the concept

Really, I think the concept and approach are very different from Sliders. The concept of alternate realities and travelling between them also existed long before Sliders and was used in several books and short stories. I don't think that what I'm working on compares well to a gimmicky tv series.

I'm not going for the Sliders approach, which focuses on the "what if"; that's been done to death. I'd like to focus on the human side of things, and how such an ability could affect somebody as a person.