Sunday, 4 September 2016

An Unusual Question

There is a question that arises only in the context of parallel universe fiction. Ariel, a character in a play by William Shakespeare, necessarily exists in Poul Anderson's Shakespearean universe but does he also feature in Carolingian mythology? I assume not although someone might know better. In any case, when Ariel is also mentioned in Anderson's Carolingian universe, it is legitimate to ask: are there two Ariels, one native to each universe, or has a single Ariel originated in one universe and crossed over to the other?

This kind of question has arisen in other fictional multiverses. Thus, when Roy Thomas imagined that all Golden Age DC superheroes coexisted on Earth 2, he decreed that the Freedom Fighters, a superhero team, including Uncle Sam, who had fought the world-conquering Nazis of Earth X had not originated on Earth X but had crossed over from Earth 2.

In Poul Anderson's works, I concluded that there are two Kith Histories, one with a Star Empire, the other without. In James Blish's works, High Earth, the Traitor's Guild and the Green Exarchy are mentioned in a Dirac message but are also said to exist in a galaxy where there is no instantaneous communicator. Conclusion: two High Earth timelines. See here.

7 comments:

  1. Kaor, Paul!

    Or there might be only a SINGLE Ariel "native" to both the Shakespearean and Carolingian universes. That might have happened if both worlds were at one time a single world or timeline before some event or incident caused them to split apart. Since I think the Carolingian world is earlier than the Shakespearean, and Ariel lived in the former, he would be known and seen in the latter.

    Sean

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  2. Sean,
    But Ariel would split when the universe did?
    Valeria says that the old Phoenix universes do not split off from each other. They were distinct from the beginning but the difference only became apparent recently. But I don't know how she knows this.
    Another super-hero example: when Superman meets Spider-man, either one of them has crossed over to the other's universe or these are new versions of the characters co-existing in a third universe.
    Unbelievable.
    Paul.

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    1. Kaor, Paul!

      Darn! That raises a serious difficulty. I assume you took Valeria's comments about multiple universes from one of the Old Phoenix interludes in A MIDSUMMER TEMPEST. But I still prefer the suggestion Poul Anderson gave in one of his letters to me (as I've tried to summarize in my first comment above). That is, the same historical (or otherwise) existed in the pasts of more than one universe before they had split off into different timelines.

      I would argue that it's possible Valeria is wrong. After all, we don't know how she knows the idea all universes were distinct from the beginning is true.

      Sean

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    2. Sean,
      Valeria says that in Chapter xii of A MIDSUMMER TEMPEST.
      Paul.

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    3. Kaor, Paul!

      Tbanks! I'll be looking up Chapter XII.

      Sean

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  3. Paul:
    I know Marvel and DC have done several stories in which their characters -- ALL of their characters -- are portrayed as existing in the same universe (I still own some of those issues). Spider-Man immediately recognizes who Superman is, or Wonder Woman, or Batman, and doesn't think he's fallen into a different universe. Neither do they think the reverse.

    The Captain America/Batman team-up was particularly interesting ... who would've imagined that the Joker is patriotic, and outraged to discover he's been working with the Red Skull? "I may be a criminal lunatic, but I'm an AMERICAN criminal lunatic!" (Self-awareness is such a wonderful thing.)

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    Replies
    1. David,
      Yes. See my last reply to Sean.
      Paul.

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