If you’re one of those speculative science fans who think about the possibility of alternate universes, I’m sure you’ve thought about an alternate version of yourself existing in another realm…evil goatee on your chin or not. Too bad critical thinking sometimes gets muddled by pop culture, particularly when we all guffaw mightily (while also inciting deep thought) at the concept of the memorable 1960’s “Star Trek” episode that showed an alternate universe where an evil Captain Kirk and Spock resided. While it seems to give some Spockian logic to the notion we’d find evil versions of ourselves in an alternate universe, many theoretical physicists who really believe in it might say that the differences in personality would be more subtle.
When Neil Gaiman decided to bring this concept to the world of children’s books in his novella “Coraline”, he wisely brought more subtle variations to characters existing in a parallel world, yet still evil counterparts to the characters in the real world. Why the concept of parallel worlds always has to contain malevolent versions of the characters in our known world perhaps comes from the earliest authors who tackled the subject to give distinct and entertaining differences between each world. In fact, the assuredness that we had evil counterparts in an alternate universe goes all the way back to the time of the 1600’s.
It might be arguable that the 1666 book “The Blazing World” by the Duchess of Newcastle, Margaret Cavendish, gave an alternate world that was much better than the real one. But when this British tale managed to take on alternate universes for the first time, it gave more of an ambiguous take on whether an alternate universe was really better than our civilization. Despite being populated with anthropomorphic animals instead of flip-side human counterparts to England’s populace, the alternate universe ultimately attacks England to bring a new way of thinking into our reality.
By the time Edwin Abbott brought more complex thoughts to alternate universes in his book “Flatland” 220 years later, there were legitimate reasons why the alternate universe had a lack of any moral center, despite generally being technologically advanced. Even though the one-dimensional universe in “Flatland” seems rigid and naïve, the multi-dimensional universe shown by the Square by the Sphere turns out to have citizens who are too superior for their own good and have their own brand of naivete not accepting the idea of additional multi-dimensional worlds.
Alternate versions of society containing their own insanely adamant beliefs in their parallel world was, as we know, taken to the ultimate psychological examination when Lewis Carroll posited in his “Alice” books that if an alternate world existed, it would be similar to a nonsensical dream world. Since Alice really was dreaming (or so we were led to think), it gives us the thought that we’re all wired in our subconscious to think alternate versions of the world’s populace would automatically be evil, militaristic, confusing to us in what they want and generally thinking their alternate world is superior to any other reality.
Of course, the book and movie adaptation of “Coraline” follows the lead of Carroll’s “Alice” books in entering a parallel world through a nearby doorway around the lead character’s own property. The only difference is that Coraline finds alternate versions of her own family rather than dreamlike metaphors for governmental leaders or anthropomorphic objects come to life. And in those different versions of her family, we see, yes, evil counterparts, yet still a few similar personality traits from the real world so there isn’t a complete polar opposite effect.
In the world of theoretical quantum physics, the thought is that if we truly do have parallel worlds with alternate outcomes and version of ourselves, the differences might be much more interesting than what we’ve seen in movies and outside the automatic assumption it’s a nefarious universe. Despite the thought that parallel universe plots are becoming tired to keep rehashing in fiction, why not construct a book or movie that depicts a parallel universe in the vein of utopia as something comparable to the troubled universe we already reside in? What would happen if someone managed to find their way into such a parallel world that’s infinitely better than the world we come from?
Theoretical physicists likely wouldn’t hesitate to tell you such a place really does exist…at least explained in an easy way that allows a physicist to keep his or her job title. The world of fiction, though, has so far ignored the theory that we may have multiverses out there in infinite combinations where every possible scenario could be playing out concurrently with our own reality. Out of all those combinations, the smallest occurrences in various multiverses can create an exponentially more positive world than the one we currently reside in.
For many people, the chance of such a utopian world happening in our own world someday gives even more credence to such a world already existing in the theory of parallel universes. In that regard, perhaps the scenario of “Coraline” is eerily correct in that our counterpart universe could ultimately mesh with our world in order to fulfill our own destiny. Almost every piece of fiction about parallel worlds has the evil universe eventually finding its way into ours.
Let’s see a film or book showing one of those utopia multiverses and all those economically prosperous, morally sound people within it storming our world and merging. In the world of the profound, we can’t completely discount the possibility that we’re all a bunch of Coralines who will eventually find the secret door allowing us to snowball a better world…