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I'm the co-host of THIS IS ROCK 'N' ROLL RADIO with Dana & Carl (Sunday nights, 9 to Midnight Eastern, www.westcottradio.org).  As a freelance writer, I contributed to Goldmine magazine from 1986-2006, wrote liner notes for Rhino Records' compilation CD Poptopia!  Power Pop Classics Of The '90s, and for releases by The Flashcubes, The Finkers, Screen Test, 1.4.5., and Jack "Penetrator" Lipton.  I contributed to the books Bubblegum Music Is The Naked Truth, Shake Some Action, Lost In The Grooves, and MusicHound Rock, and to DISCoveries, Amazing Heroes, The Comics Buyer's Guide, Yeah Yeah Yeah, Comics Collector, The Buffalo News, and The Syracuse New Times.  I also wrote the liner notes for the four THIS IS ROCK 'N' ROLL RADIO compilation CDs, because, well, who could stop me?  My standing offer to write liner notes for a Bay City Rollers compilation has remained criminally ignored.  Still intend to write and sell a Batman story someday.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

WHAT IF? SO WHAT? The 1979 Fantasy And Science Fiction Journal, Parts 2 and 3

Continuing entries from the journal I kept for Dr. Calvin Rich's Fantasy And Science Fiction class when I was a senior at Brockport in the Fall of 1979.

# 2: 9/16/79

Tonight's episode of Mork & Mindy sets me in mind of the concept of parallel worlds. The episode in question dealt with what happens to the extraterrestrial Mork when a cold capsule causes him to shrink into a universe within an atom in Mindy's tablecloth. This parallel universe featured a planet called Mirth, peopled by counterparts of Mork's friends on Earth.

This concept of parallel worlds is nothing new, and has, in fact, been common fare in science fiction for years. My introduction to this idea came through comic books thirteen years ago. According to the official DC Comics theory, there are a myriad parallel universes stretched across the infinite area of creation; one such universe includes Earth-One, home of The Justice League Of America (Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, etc.). Existing parallel--but with certain subtle differences--to Earth-One is Earth-Two, home to the equally-noble Justice Society Of America. The Justice Society includes within its membership several older and/or subtly different counterparts of Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, The Flash, etc.

At the tender age of six-and-a-half, these comic books introduced me to the concept of parallel worlds (just as they introduced me to fantasy and the possibilities of imagination and, indeed, just as they taught me how to read). From these beginnings, supplemented by various expansions on the idea as put forth in subsequent superheroic epics, I began to formulate my own interpretation of this concept.

(TO BE CONTINUED--in true comic-book fashion! POW!)

# 3: 9/18/79

Planet Earth at one extreme: an empty space in an empty universe which never was.

Planet Earth, at the opposite extreme: an empty space in an empty universe destroyed by its children.

In between these two extremes: all other possibilities and infinite variations of existence ever conceived in unguarded thought or careful consideration--a myriad parallel Earths.

The theory stated officially: across the endless gulf of creation there exist countless alternative universes, manifesting all imagined realities of time, circumstance, wish fulfillment, and terror-soaked nightmare. Some of these worlds we have all experienced second-hand...

[Movies] ...the world where Sam Spade casually informs Brigid O'Shaughnessy that, regardless of his feelings for her, he is going to turn her over to the police for killing his partner, Miles Archer.

[Literature] ...the world where Jay Gatsby stares across the water at a light and sighs, "If only...."

[TV] ...the world where citizens can safely walk the streets at night, secure in the knowledge that Batman and Robin are on the job!

[Music] ...and the world where a young man who'd left home just a week before--and who'd never-ever kissed a woman before--falls in love with a transvestite named Lola.

Then again, there are the worlds we aren't quite as familiar with: the world where Caspar Gutman blows Sam Spade's brains out; the world where a poor Jay Gatsby dies after drinking poisoned bootleg alcohol; the world where Bruce Wayne's parents were never killed, and crime runs rampant and unchecked over Gotham City; the world where Lola approaches a vice squad officer and is immediately arrested and held without bail.

Working within this concept of parallel worlds, there can really be no such thing as the fantastic or the improbable, for all impossible fantasies are mere humdrum reality in some alternate universe...

...a universe where Earth's gravity is selective and erratic.

...a universe where all humans have an exact twin of the opposite sex as a mate.

...a universe where sex is fatal.

...a universe where people can kill by concentrating on a victim.

The possibilities are, of course, endless: a universe for every notion to ever cross one's mind! For every choice one makes, an alternate universe manifests the consequences of another choice. Alternate universes. Alternate realities. Alternate Gods.

In one universe, God is an acid-head, and we're his bad trip. I don't know which universe, though.

DR. RICH'S COMMENTS:  Alternates are not necessarily parallel. [He also questioned whether there was anything "official" about the theory--fair enough!]

2017 POSTSCRIPT: No. Before you even ask: no. I have never taken LSD in my life, so none of this can be blamed on lysergic influences at all. I was already this way to begin with.

And I made a slight mistake in the chronology of my discovery of parallel worlds. I passed up the chance to buy an Earth-One and Earth-Two comic book adventure in 1966, so that introduction was deferred by one more year, when I was seven and a half.

My introduction to parallel worlds, and my first issue of Justice League of America.



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