Friday, May 11, 2018

Alternate Universes

This was the final class in my speculative fiction course. I’m sad the classes are done and look forward to the next session, which won’t be until the late fall. I met some great people and I even learned a few things.

Now, the class was a little more than a week ago and my notes are a little incomprehensible disjointed sketchy, but we’ll give it a try.

First there was a lively discussion on what exactly was meant by alternate universes. According to my notes, the first thing we discussed was Schrodinger’s cat. At first glance this might be a little puzzling because what does quantum mechanics have to do with alternate universes, but the idea of the cat being both alive and dead segued into the multiple worlds theory.

This theory suggests that there are many worlds which exist in parallel at the same space and time as our own. If you’re a fan of any of the super hero shows on TV these days, particularly The Flash, then you’re probably already familiar with this concept.

This, in turn, led to a discussion of dichotomies, and how there are many more choices than just left or right and how each decision made splits into a different reality with more choices.

We also touched on the butterfly effect, how the simplest of actions can have disastrous effects, and assumptions, the danger of assuming things happen only in one way.

The floor opened to suggestions of favourite times in history, and we settled on the roaring twenties for our example, listing many of the most noteworthy events from that era. Then we were asked to pick a point of departure (POD) and speculate on how things might be different here in the future if something had been changed at that point. What if the 19th Amendment hadn’t passed and women weren’t given the right to vote? What if Yankee Stadium hadn’t been built? What if Lindbergh hadn’t completed his transatlantic flight?

Finally, we were asked to pick an era, find our own POD, and write a story. See if you can guess what era I chose. ;-)

Molly worked her way across the open space in the park, looking for a place to spread her hand woven hemp blanket. Her eye was caught by a frantically waving hand and faintly over the buzz of the crowd she heard her best friend Jasmine calling her name.

Moving carefully so as to avoid stepping on the limbs spread out from various blankets that were also hand woven – some from hemp, some from cotton, some from wool, but all made from natural fibres – she waded through the sea of humanity.

By folding her blanket into quarters she could just fit it on the small square of grass Jasmine was saving for her.

“Can you believe this crowd?” Jasmine asked as Molly eased her bulk to the ground.

“I’m not surprised,” Molly said, puffing slightly. “How often do we get free concerts here?”

“Hey!” a chipper voice called out. “Is there enough room for me too?”

“Hey Rainbow,” Jasmine called back, scooting closer to Molly. “Pull up some grass,” she giggled.

“Have you heard the news?” Rainbow asked, plopping down beside them.

Molly shook her head as Jasmine asked, “What news?”

“Kennedy. Someone tried to shoot him.”

Molly’s eyes widened and Jasmine gasped.

“Why would anyone want to do that? Is he okay?” Molly asked, feeling a little ill.

Rainbow shrugged. “I don’t know. They missed him though and got his wife instead.”

“Jackie’s dead?” Jasmine’s voice rose loud enough that several heads turned to stare.

Rainbow looked at her, contrite. “I’m sorry Jazz, I forgot how much you admired her.”

Jasmine and Molly stared at each other as the tears started to flow. The world would never be the same.


RamblingWords said...

Carol, your writing sample was wonderful. I loved the twist. I have theorized about just that many times in my life. What if It had been Jackie instead of the President who had been killed. We would be living in a whole different world if that had been the case.

Nice piece of speculative fiction. Well written and presented.


C R Ward said...

Thank you Ardee-Ann! I don't know how far I would have taken the story if I'd had more time. I don't know if it needs to go any further, maybe just fleshed out a little. One of these days...