Saturday, August 31, 2013

The limits of alternate universes

Song of the day: Nothing to Prove - Geek Girls & The Double Clicks

To distract myself from the amazing fact that I am going to my first con (AlCon, Leicester, England) in just a few days on top of seeing London for the first time (sweet jesus I can't breathe.) I have been thinking about alternate universes, particularly in fiction.

So in Terry Pratchett's Night Watch, there is a conversation between the History Monk Lu-Tze and Commander Sam Vimes on the subject of Alternate Universes. For plot-relevant and spoileriffic reasons, Lu-Tze indicates the possibility that that means there must be at least one universe where Vimes, for example, has killed his wife. Vimes, of course, doesn't buy this for a second; for him it's literally impossible. And Lu-Tze says that, yes, there is no universe where Sam Vimes, as he is now would ever do such a thing. This indicates that people's choices really do matter, something which has been a running theme throughout the whole of Discworld, and that's a pretty freeing thought. Something might not make a difference historically, but it will certainly matter personally.

That brings me to the potential of fiction AUs. It seems that there are some things so deeply ingrained in a story and the characters that make them (and are made by them) that some fundamental things would not change. For example, I' pretty sure there is no universe where Samwise Gamgee does not follow Frodo on his quest, or where Elizabeth Bennett does not reject Mister Collins, because it's such a big part of their character. It's probably even stronger when it comes to interpersonal relationships; there is no Holmes without Watson, there is no Kirk without Spock.

The subject of as he is now brings up that other space/time continuities where things do in fact not go that way. But there you have to interfere a lot earlier in the timeline and essentially make them into completely different people for them to do those things in the first place. And even then that gets Jossed sometimes, as exemplified by the Mirror Verse and the reboot in Star Trek, where Kirk and Spock are very different from who they are in the original series.

I find it fascinating to try to figure out what the set-in-stone part of a character is based on this observation. Of course this can be debated back and forth, but there are probably one or two things that most people can agree on. Back to the first point, everyone who has so much as sniffed a Watch book knows the idea that it would even occur to Sam Vimes to harm his family is ludicrous, just as he would never take a bribe or not uphold the law. That's what makes him Sam Vimes.

Of course that doesn't mean that AU fics aren't lovely and give us a whole lot of potential for awesome stories - go nuts, give us more great fics to read!

Back on the subject of my trip to England (ooh, boy) I shall be cosplaying as Zee Captain!

 Just another day after the end of the world

Yes, the insane maybe-protagonist of the equally insane webcomic Romantically Apocolyptic. I am quite apprehensive, and have been working on my bad German accent (which he (she?) might not even have, but is just something that sticks with me. It's something which I am really excited about both because this will be my first cosplay and because I feel like I've been pretty successful with it. I'll post some photos and stuff from the con some other day.

No comments:

Post a Comment