I recently read An Island in the Sea of Time by S. M. Stirling, in which the entire island of Nantucket from 1998 A.D. mysteriously ends up in around 1250 B.C. It reminded me quite a bit of Eric Flint’s 1632, in which an entire West Virginia town from 2000 A.D. ends up in the middle of Europe in 1632. (Just to be clear, I read Flint’s book first, but Stirling’s was published first.)
The 1632 series has spawned a huge fan community and hundreds of thousands of words of authorized fiction by other authors set in that universe. While at the Life, the Universe, and Everything symposium last week, I chatted with Kevin H. Evans, one of those authors, and I mentioned that at one time, I had thought about writing a 1632 story in which a Mormon missionary just a few weeks from going home suddenly finds that home is almost 400 years away. (Who knows? Maybe I’ll write it someday.) He mentioned that some authors had done a little bit with Mormons in the 1632 universe trying to restart the Church.
There’s not an LDS meetinghouse on Nantucket. As of almost a year ago, there were only 5 members on the island (not including missionaries), and I don’t know how many there were in 1998 who might therefore have fictionally gone back three thousand years. What’s a faithful Mormon supposed to do in that situation? It’s before the coming of Christ, so does that mean following the law of Moses? (At least 1250 B.C. is post-Moses!)
In both cases, it’s clear that the time-traveling towns have created a divergence point in history, spinning off an alternate universe. So the situations would involve modern Mormons in pre-Joseph Smith times. Should they start printing up the Book of Mormon, or merely live the gospel without preaching it to others, counting on the Restoration to happen in God’s due time?
But there are other types of alternate history, not involving time travel. In such universes we could explore Mormonisms that might have been. I posited one such universe in a comment on the Times and Seasons blog a few years ago:
If the Restoration had been attempted sooner, the restored church might have been crushed before it developed. (Or, possibly worse, coopted by a government. Here’s a bit of alternate history for you: A young Spanish explorer in Mesoamerica in the early 1500s finds and translates the golden plates and begins to restore the gospel, including the doctrine of plural marriage. Although nobody expected it, the new religion runs afoul of the Spanish Inquisition. But when Henry VIII of England is looking for a way to have a male heir, he decides Los Mormones have the answer. Mormonism becomes the established religion of England.)
In his Ghosts series, L. E. Modesitt, Jr., has an alternate world with an alternate (and not particularly flattering) version of the Church. And, of course, there’s Orson Scott Card’s retelling of the Joseph Smith story in his Alvin Maker series. But both of those involve fantasy worlds rather than realistic alternate Earths.
Anyone got some more examples of the LDS Church in parallel worlds?