Welcome to the final week of Sci-Fi Month 2015! Whew. It has been so much fun diving into all this SF this year – but it isn’t over yet! Leading the way into the last round of SF celebration here is a new guest post from Jason Sizemore, who’s talking about alternate realities in science fiction!
Jason Sizemore is the Editor-in-Chief of Apex Magazine, and the owner of Apex Publications. He is the author of Irredeemable and For Exposure: The Life and Times of a Small Press Publisher. You can find out more about Apex at apex-magazine.com, and find Jason himself on Twitter as @apexjason.
The concept of our lives existing in a nebulous version of reality is one that frequently pops up in science fiction. I find the idea fascinating that we might live in a parallel world to another or that we’re simply one thread in an infinitesimal number of realities. The enormity of the possibilities has intrigued many philosophers, physicists, authors, and filmmakers over the years.
In a story set to appear in the anthology Best of Apex Magazine, Brian Trent’s “A Matter of Shapespace” plays with the fluidity of the physical world and the digital world and the dangers of playing within the two forms. Last year, filmmaker Jamin Winans produced and directed a fantastic film named The Frame that tackles the subject in a smart, entertaining, and thoughtful manner. While Trent’s story and Winan’s movie address different aspects of the same idea, they’re remarkably similar and tackle similar problems.
“A Matter of Shapespace” (that can be read here) opens with an unusual occurrence: a pyramid has randomly appeared in a man’s house. It recalls the appearance of the monolith in Stanley Kubrik’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. The pyramid is even more unexpected because the home’s owner has the capability to build anything and everything he wants from a pool of resources called “shapespace”. This pyramid he did not build. In an entertaining and imaginative sequence, the protagonist fears the worst and attempts to go on the run by materializing in Hungary. However, in a world where we can manifest ourselves almost anywhere we want via shapespace means tracking and finding anyone is absurdly simple.
Trent’s darkly comic story reaches a bleak conclusion regarding the dangers of technology as a crutch, that not all realities are equal. You’ll be clutching your Luddite pillow at night if you linger on the author’s message too long.
Jamin Winan’s The Frame takes a common trope of science fiction—the worlds presented in our entertainment are wheel—and twists it around in heartbreaking ways. At its core, the movie is a stylistic sci-fi thriller wrapped around a metaphor that life isn’t what it seems. The two protagonists, a strong, independent woman named Sam, and Alex, a cargo thief who works for a dangerous cartel, meet through a television set. Alex is a character in a crime show that Sam often watches. I know, this sounds…tired, but I’m telling you it works.
In the middle of these two is a Lynchian type evil presence played by Christopher Soren Kelly. The film mashes fantasy, mystery, philosophy, whimsy, and a thriller-style narrative to produce art from the chaos. Like in Trent’s story, when the boundaries between the two realities are crossed, questions and problems arise. And like Trent’s story, perhaps the conclusion is direr than you would hope.
I’m of the opinion that intertwining two threads of space/time would produce similar situations as conspired by Winan and Trent. The world is weird enough in this thread, let alone dragging the problems of a second into the mix. At the very best, we would be confronted with a facsimile of ourselves. I doubt there are many people out in the world who relishes the thought of another Jason Sizemore!
Thanks to Jason for a great guest post – some interesting points to consider there! I think the idea of having other worlds to explore is a pretty fascinating one, even if they could turn out to be dangerous… Then again maybe I’m happy enough to stay in this one with my tea… What do you guys think?