marycatelli (marycatelli) wrote,

philosophizing on choices and history

There's one form of alternate history I've alwyas hated.

The choice driven one.

If Jane buys this cake mix instead of that one, the universe diverges!  If Jack runs the red light or doesn't, the universe diverges!

The problem is that even if only major decisions trigger it, it voids all characters' decisions.  You choose not accept the bribe?  That means nothing, because you are just the lucky ducky who landed in the universe where you didn't; there's another you who did.  A lot of such alternate universe stories evade the issues; Lord Kalvan of Otherwhen goes farther than most because they do warn people to avoid the timelines close to where Calvin/Kalvan landed, but you get to work out for yourself that in those timelines, the kingdom gets overrun, and its inhabitants massacred or enslaved because its prince was pig-headed.  Most don't do even that much.  But you can work it out.  (Terry Pratchett's Jingo is pronounced; Vimes gets the other Vimes's day planner and listens to all the deaths.  Somewhere in the Trousers of Time as Pratchett put it, another Vimes was listening to the events of the book while his Guardsmen died about him, until he died himself.)

Plus of course the "quantum" handwaving.

But then it occured to me that you could really use the actual quantum stuff.  A carbon-14 atom decays, or doesn't, and the universes split, and Jane and Jack get to make their decisions twice, separately.

Perhaps the same, perhaps differently.  Anyone jumping from world to world would probably start rating people according to how reliable they are.  For good or for evil.
Tags: genre: alternate history, heroes and villains

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