Dorkin’ Out: Best Alternate Reality Stories
“Lost” has started its final journey, one that involves looks into a different world, where a change leads to a completely different reality. It’s not a new journey, but it doesn’t mean it isn’t a compelling trip like similar alternatives traveled before it. What if women withheld sex unless men became peaceful? What if The South/Nazis/Bo Bice would have won? What if Jesus rode dinosaurs?
Which got me to thinking – what are the best alternate realities? (Besides the one where I live with five girls that love sex and cooking and hate eating and commitment.)
Some that almost made the cut – “The Legion of Substitute Super Heroes” (a future where Superman fights crime, but alongside Porcupine Pete and Infectious Lass rather than Saturn Girl and Lightning Lad – a perfect place to see where your ideas for superheroes came and died); Any number of “Star Trek” episodes (which, if the first example didn’t brand me as a nerd, the words ‘Star Trek episodes’ certainly will); “The Adventures of Baron Munchausen” (a hero who not only helps himself to glory, but helps himself to a sweet mustache); “Y: The Last Man” (“Lost” producer Brian K. Vaughn’s vision of a world without men, except for one “lucky” boy and his monkey, who actually have to hide); but the following ones leave me staring up at a darkened ceiling, putting off sleep until my mind lulls as a stream of music lilts by from a …
1. Player Piano
This Kurt Vonnegut classic is the story of a man who dreams of his alternate reality – a place where he works with his hands, forgoing all of the technological advances of the world and finding happiness that has started to elude him with his wife. The only problem, she doesn’t want that reality and he can’t work with his hands. It’s too late. All the choices that he made to become an engineer have left him with nothing else. He can’t change his life and his alternative reality ceases to exist.
Besides his time spent working at GE, maybe part of the idea behind “Player Piano” was the struggle within Vonnegut himself, a Midwesterner with thoughts of a safe career and the opposing dreams of becoming a …
2. Writer: Charlie Kaufman
He deserves a category all to himself for penning “Being John Malkovich”, “Adaptation”, “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” and “Synechdoche, New York.” Each movie contains an alternate reality where we explore our own minds (or John Malkovich’s). Sunshine and Synecdoche are the ones that mean the most to me with the power and lure of forgetfulness and blissful ignorance in one and the magnitude of trying to create a world that is both personal and appealing to the masses in the other. The problem is that when you forget the pain, you forget the happiness. The act of creating that perfect world can be paralyzing as every second can cast a doubt on universal appeal and what you’re trying to say. Just look at the viewers of “Lost”: once it became loved, it was much easier to hold it to standards that it could never meet on a weekly basis. Of course, Lindlehof and Cuse have to deal with over one hundred hours while Kaufman only has to deal with two. Then again, what Kaufman is exploring is really a lifetime.
Which is the true battle, the one raging within ourselves and it’s endless, this …
About Jason McClain Jason is an aspiring novelist, which means there is a lot of time to put off writing and watch baseball or go fly-fishing, hiking and traveling. By "a lot of time", Jason means "procrastination."