A short story collection about parallel worlds. Part of the Timetravel ebook bundle I bought from Storybundle in 2015.

Publication year: 2011
Format: ebook
Publisher: Wordfire Press

Alternitech is a company which “sends agents to alternate timelines where tiny differences yield valuable changes”: for example, a famous band doesn’t break up or a musician doesn’t die or a cure has been found for a disease which affects a lot of people. They’ve all been published before in Analog.

The main character in all stories, except the last one, is an Alternitech agent, traveling through parallel worlds for a living, looking for some specific knowledge.

“Music Played through the Strings of Time”: Jeremy Cardiff is looking for music. Specifically, from famous musicians who have done music which hasn’t been published in his own timeline. He’s also a musician himself but he’s never hit big, not matter how technically good songs he makes. But then he comes to a timeline where his own song has been a big hit.

“Tide Pools”: Andrea is a cure hunter, looking for various cures. But she has a very personal reason to look for one specific cure: her husband in sick with a very rare and fatal disease. Because it’s rare, Alternitech has forbidden her to look for the cure. Of course, she does it anyway.

“An Innocent Presumption”: Heather Rheims’s employer is obsessed with JFK’s assassination and sends her to various parallel universes to find out everything she can about it. But she also has a very personal project: a serial killer called Slasher X killed her younger sister. In Heather’s own timeline, he was caught by a freak accident. Now Heather wants to make sure he’s caught in every timeline.

“The Bistro of Alternate Realites”: Heather returns. In this story, she’s working for a young archeologist and looks for clues of various archeological finds which haven’t been found in her timeline. By accident, she meets her counterparts in other realities and they starts to share their info, and more personal lives, as well.

“Rough Draft”: Mitchell Coren wrote one (stand-alone) sci-fi novel which won Hugo and Nebula and left readers wanting more. But he never wrote more. Twenty years later, an Alternitech agent, who’s also Coren’s fan, found out another book that an alternate world Coren has written. The agent sends Coren that novel, which enrages Coren.

I liked the premise and the stories (after I got over the surprise that these aren’t actually timetravel). Parallel realities are fascinating to me. The Bistro story was especially interesting, but it felt a bit of a cheat that we didn’t find out how one subplot ended. I wouldn’t mind reading more stories set in these worlds.

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