Saturday, August 28, 2010

Same Earth, Same Year, But Everything Else Is Different

In the early to mid 90's, the people at FOX were smoking some good shit. I don't know what it was, but it was some good shit. That's how the network that invented reality tv with the "When Animals Attack", actually allowed two good sci-fi shows to get (and more importantly STAY) on the air. One was The X-Files, which I'll talk about in another blog post, the other is the subject of this blog post. It's name:

The show follows a brilliant young scientist/student, Quinn Mallory, who is searching for the equation that will allow him to create anti-gravity. Instead he stumbles upon a way to jump between worlds. Along for the ride are his best friend and would-be girlfriend Wade Welles, his physics professor Maximillian Arturo, and soul singer Rembrandt Brown. On their first trip, something goes wrong and these four become lost in parallel universes, sliding from one alternate Earth to the next, trying to find their way home.

For those of you who don't know, certain branches of science, mostly in the Quantum Mechanics arena, have theorized that every possible outcome of every decision ever made did, in fact, happen. So let's say this morning you, dear readers, got up this morning and decided to make Lucky Charms for breakfast. You could have had eggs, but decided on Lucky Charms since they are magically delicious. But, in the instant when you made the decision an entire new universe was created where you chose to have eggs, instead of Lucky Charms because it's the incredible edible egg. That universe is now a brand new slot in the infinite cd changer that is the MultiVerse. With me so far? Good.

So we have all these universes racked up, side by side, in parallel to each other you might say. They are all just as real as the next, but slightly different. In one universe, McD's could have blue arches instead of yellow, or there could be a King & Queen of America... The possibilities are infinite! Now, imagine if you could jump from world to world and see what they were like. That is Sliders!

Now I do have to admit, Sliders was kind of a low-rent sci-fi show. It didn't have much of a budget, but the show made up for it with some brilliant concepts and the exploration of those concepts. For example, the Sliders visit a world where the population is controlled by a lethal lottery. People sign up for the lottery, if they win they get one week of total posh & pomp. At the end of that week, they are euthanized and their families are given all the money they would ever need. Interesting ethical experiment, isn't it?

In another episode, they visit a world where the atomic bomb was never invented, which is about to be destroyed by an asteroid. Should the sliders give this world the atomic bomb and all the horrors that came with it? Or how about a world were anti-biotics were never created? Or a world where women are in power and display the same level of cruelty and mismanagement men have shown in this one. Are you intrigued yet?

That was the true power of Sliders for me. All the different versions of Earth and how one small change played out to huge differences especially in human morality. How differently would we think if psychics were real? If magic had supplanted science all those years ago? How would that redefine what we would currently believe is right or wrong? There is a school of thought that says we are nothing more than the sum of our experiences. With Sliders, you get the chance to see what we would be like if those experiences had happened completely differently.

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