The Alternate History: Refiguring Historical Time

By Karen Hellekson | Go to book overview

3
Parallel Worlds:
Simultaneity and Time

There is more than one future we can encounter, and with more or less
absence of deliberation we choose among them. But the futures we
fail to encounter, upon the roads we do not take, are just as real as the
landmarks upon the roads.

— Murray Leinster, “Sidewise in Time”

Chapter 2 concluded that for Ward Moore, the construction of history, not history itself, is the point of history making. The protagonist of Bring the Jubilee (1955), the historian Hodge, discovers this when he becomes the agent of his world's destruction—and of another world's creation. Hodge alters a cause and brings about another effect—a new world—thereby redirecting the arrow of time. For this reason, Moore's novel is concerned with the genetic theory of history, as it deals with causes. When Moore destroys Hodge's alternate world and brings about our own, however, he deliberately cuts off any hope that Hodge's world exists somewhere.

The parallel worlds story, however, allows this to occur. The parallel worlds story also relies on the genetic theory of history, as it posits a universe populated by an uncountable number of worlds that exist simultaneously with our own, each the product of a different effect springing from any given cause. David K. Danow argues that linear texts can be interrupted “from present to past,” “from present to the distant… future,”

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