Parallel Earths

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?

About Eric James Stone

A Nebula Award winner, Hugo Award nominee, and winner in the Writers of the Future Contest, Eric James Stone has had stories published in Year’s Best SF 15, Analog, Nature, and Kevin J. Anderson’s Blood Lite anthologies of humorous horror, among other venues. One of Eric’s earliest memories is of seeing an Apollo moon-shot launch on television. That might explain his fascination with space travel. His father’s collection of old science fiction ensured that Eric grew up on a full diet of Asimov, Heinlein and Clarke. While getting his political science degree at Brigham Young University, Eric took creative writing classes. He wrote several short stories, and even submitted one for publication, but after it was rejected he gave up on creative writing for a decade. During those years Eric graduated from Baylor Law School, worked on a congressional campaign, and took a job in Washington, DC, with one of those special interest groups politicians always complain that other politicians are influenced by. He quit the political scene in 1999 to work as a web developer in Utah. In 2002 he started writing fiction again, and in 2003 he attended Orson Scott Card’s Literary Boot Camp. In 2007 Eric got laid off from his day job just in time to go to the Odyssey Writing Workshop. He has since found a new web development job. In 2009 Eric became an assistant editor for Intergalactic Medicine Show. Eric lives in Eagle Mountain, Utah.
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4 Responses to Parallel Earths

  1. Lee Allred’s “For the Strength of the Hills.”

  2. Wm says:

    There’s also D.J. Butler’s series.

  3. Andrew H. says:

    Harry Turtledove’s “Southern Victory” series of books of an alternative history where the Confederate states win their independence in the Civil War. The Great War: American Front (1998) is set during WWI, where the USA and CSA fight again, and the Utah Mormons declare an independent State of Deseret, but are defeated by the USA under Theodore Roosevelt, and placed under military rule.

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