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Parallel universes

2 months ago
Have you ever thought about CYOAs and how they relate to quantum physics?

Every choice you make for the character makes them a different person, existing in a different universe. Some versions of them die from their mistakes, some choose a different path and a whole new reality is created from that.

I was thinking it would be interesting if the universes changed in other ways too. Nothing too important because I know it would annoy people, but what if you were suddenly wearing a different color shirt, or had enough a different number of bullets in your gun? You step over the body of the guard you just killed on the way to the safe, and is someone different who happened to be on duty on the wrong day.

The story wouldn't draw attention to these details, it would only mention them as part of the normal writing and it would be for readers who paid attention to pick up on.

After I finish my contest story I'm going to start on the sci fi series that I originally joined here to write. It was always meant to include a parallel universe, and now I realize there will be many. Which also means that I can write some of the side stories I wanted without worrying about where they fall in the timeline or how to handle things that don't fit the 'canon' endings. Now I know that if there's a contradiction, it's just a different universe.

Parallel universes

2 months ago
Kinda like the butterfly effect where, a minute seemingly unimportant decision can affect things completely unrelated?

Parallel universes

2 months ago

Been there, done that. In my story the name of the president of the US changes. And of course it's a deep reference to quantum mechanics and has absolutely nothing to do with not being able to remember the names of my own characters.

More seriously if you want to pull this off then make sure that the reader gets that you do it intentionally. If its just things changing, people will think it's a mistake. If they get it's intentional but random and unimportant, it seems a bit silly and pointless. To make it a fun part of the story it must be somehow predictable. Why not invent your own “physics” according to which this works?

Parallel universes

2 months ago
Somehow this has unearthed a vague memory-fragment of a book I read once. I think 'peaceful' aliens had conquered Earth and were putting people in reeducation camps, and it also involved a lot of trippy Hindu shit. The multi universe thing was important throughout it, in fact the most specific detail I recall was that at one point the protagonist entered a code on a keypad, and then a few minutes later it referenced a completely different number he'd tried that had worked, and it was supposd to be understood that we were following a different person now and all other versions who had gotten it wrong no longer existed.


I hate it when this happens, not knowing what book it was will haunt me, but it's like trying to remember a dream and I'll never have the kind of details that can be used in a Google search.

Parallel universes

2 months ago

Is it Anathem? In particular, this detail seems to match what you remember:

Late in the novel, a thousander named Fraa Jad tries a keypad and hits buttons at random. The door opens, and the implication is that Jad has willed himself into that universe where the random keys were the right keys.

There's aliens, parallel universes, metaphysical themes, and an Earth-like planet. The only detail that doesn't seem to match is the aliens putting humans in reeducation camps but the "humans" of this planet do put some of their own people in camps to think about philosophy.

Parallel universes

2 months ago
I do that often in my writing, though it always bugs Mizal when I do. And I do it drastically -- if you choose choice A that guy on the corner is Phil, an unassuming accountant. If you choose choice B it's a hooker trying to sell you some crack. So yes, you can just go nuts with the assumption that your story is to be read forward and as long as one story with one set of choices makes sense, it works. Just be aware that there are readers who would prefer to see the entire story be set in one, solid universe and the choices just guide you to different things that happen in that universe. That way if they read it again and make other choices, that universe should remain the same.

Parallel universes

2 months ago
Avery suggested the name ‘god mode’ stories for such games where your choices can change the world. I think it is very fitting.

Parallel universes

2 months ago
I don't think the examples in that thread fit things just randomly changing you still don't have control over though. Now if the game asked whether there was an accountant or a hooker there when you walked up, that would be back to being player controlled. (I prefer not to use 'god mode' because that's an existing term for activating invincibility in a game)

Parallel universes

2 months ago
I agree regarding god mode, but what Ogre describes is an example of what I was thinking off in that thread.

Parallel universes

2 months ago
Who's to say Phil can't be an unassuming accountant AND a hooker trying to sell you crack? I don't mind reading it either way as long as it fits within the context of the story branch. If there are infinite possibilities to the way a story can be told, then having drastic changes between branches aren't a big deal in my opinion. When it comes to my own stuff, I like having events mostly set in place. The reader can navigate through a familiar setting, but discover interactions or perspectives that can only be found through a different branch.

Parallel universes

2 months ago
It makes a difference. I think this sort of thing can work for carefree fun exploration games, but if I actually try to figure something out, Agatha Christie-style, I would want things to stay consistent.

Parallel universes

2 months ago
"but what if you were suddenly wearing a different color shirt, or had enough a different number of bullets in your gun?"

Thats a common and annoying misconception about the butterfly effect/chaos theory. "Random" differences don't occur because of different choices. The entire point of the theory is that everything is so interconnected that an unexpected outcome is bound to occur as you don't fully understand how everything is connected. Time travel/looping through a day is probably the easiest way to see this in action.

Parallel universes

2 months ago
I got the sense he was talking about the Many Worlds theory, not the butterfly effect. The butterfly effect can't change the color of your shirt any more than it can explain how your actions retroactively made The Berenstein Bears become The Berenstain Bears for everyone in the world. Although he was tying it to choices in his explanation so...yeah, he may need to clarify a bit more.

Parallel universes

2 months ago

Even if one is willing to buy many worlds theory (most physicists are not) the differences between worlds are limited to QM uncertainties. The only way in which you get macroscopically different worlds is by butterfly style amplification of uncertainty.

I.e. A quantum fluctuation gives an electron a tiny bit more energy. This causes an atom to be ionized, which causes a protein to change its shape, which causes a vesicle to open which causes a neuron to fire, which sets of a cascade of neurons firing in your brain, which causes a change in large scale brain states which causes you to buy the red shirt and not the blue one. So later you have a red shirt and not a blue one. (which very likely matters not at all for the rest of the story)

Parallel universes

2 months ago
So why does this cause Phil to become a hooker instead of an accountant again?

Parallel universes

2 months ago
Did you ever interview for an accounting job? Red shirt!

Parallel universes

2 months ago
The point is that you're not only not supposed to ask that, you're not supposed to know that. With my idea of the changing universe, you read the story through one time. There's one story, and it's consistent. There's no paradoxes, just a story. You meet Phil and go on your way. You never know about the hooker. BUT, if you read the story with a different option, there is a hooker and you never know about Phil! You're breaking the character-player knowledge wall there. There isn't a reason for the hooker to be Phil because based on your choices that time through, there never was a Phil and you don't know Phil.

Don't get me wrong, I thing I understand what you're looking for: one universe that you navigate different ways through it depending on your choices. But the multi-universe thing just opens up more options on possibilities, but perhaps interferes with knowledge on additional readings.

Parallel universes

2 months ago
I wasn't talking to you, boomer.

Parallel universes

2 months ago
I made up Phil, so only I get to determine what happens to Phil

Parallel universes

2 months ago
From now on I'm only talking to the you in another universe that agrees with me.

Parallel universes

2 months ago
Do they have CYS there?

Parallel universes

2 months ago
Yes, but it's "Choose Your Scissors."

(Don't run with them)

Parallel universes

2 months ago
Oh that sounds fun. Count me in

Parallel universes

2 months ago
Wouldn't that mean that the reader choices aren't actually affecting the story, but rather flipping through other universes where that choice has already been made?

Parallel universes

2 months ago
But unless you read the story a second time, how would you know that?

Parallel universes

2 months ago
It's cheating a bit, but if the result is a better story, that may be worth it. I really think it depends a lot on the genre, in a spy story or a detective story I would feel cheated if I discover the author is secretly changing the cards. In a fairy tale it wouldn't bother me at all.

Parallel universes

2 months ago

I don't know what I was expecting when I clicked on this page, but man, this got deep.

Parallel universes

2 months ago
It's always pretty deep in most places around here.

Parallel universes

2 months ago
*obligatory mom joke*

Parallel universes

2 months ago

YES!