Time loop stories make you think about what if you could relive that moment when you had not made a certain decision or taken a particular step in your life. In the 1998 film Sliding Doors , how the central character’s life could turn out depends on whether she catches a train. Time loop stories are appealing so are multiverse stories. Do you ever think what if there were another you in another parallel universe? It may sound insane but it is something fun to think about . Perhaps in an alternate universe, you would be somewhat similar but a version of whom you think you might imagine or like yourself to be. If that is the case, you might want to work towards becoming that person. With the Internet, I am constantly distracted, I no longer know where I land metaphorically speaking . Time management is non-existent and it is certainly something I need to work on. But with the Internet, I always chance upon the reads I enjoy. Certain reads are mind-bending and they make you think about the impossible. Most of all I love a time travel or multiverse story, to name a couple amongst my reads:
Maybe in Another Life by Taylor Jenkins Reid is about how the protagonist ’s decision can result in different stories in two parallel universes –sliding doors
In If, Then by Kate Hope Day. the characters start seeing glimpses of different versions of themselves – Alternate universe
Here we have a story about two people who meet at the right time but the wrong place. Voila.
In The Impossible Us by Sarah Lotz, Bee has a successful business repurposing wedding dresses and friends who love and support her. A mail gets misdirected to Bee’s inbox and the sender is Nick, a writer whose career has stalled after early promise and now his marriage is on the rocks. Nick has just ghost written a book for a client whom he thinks is avoiding payment. His viciously funny message that is entitled ‘ What the HELL is wrong with you?‘ and intended for his client ends up in Bee’s box. You would think the mail goes to spam, but Bee actually responds to tell him to double- check the recipient’s address. It does not stop there. Nick responds and then she reciprocates. When another Tinder date turns out to be a nightmarish experience for Bee, she finds comfort in exchanging texts with Nick via email. Perhaps it is easier to rant to a stranger online all your frustrations. Nick is suffering from low self esteem and to top that his wife Poll and his best pal have been carrying on behind him, things cannot be worse. Chance meet with Bee over the cyberspace certainly makes things look less bleak . But should they meet? Maybe they do not want to spoil things as the email exchange is going so well. With some support from Bee’s best friend and Nick’s stepson, they decide to meet. The meeting place is Euston station in London. Nick is from Leeds. That is when things get complicated. In Nick’s world there is no large clock at Euston Station. When they both arrive at Euston Station, Nick explains that he is in this Tweed suit, evidently looking out of place and when Bee does not see him, she thinks that she has been had. Bee decides to block Nick but she misses their exchange so she unblocks him.
The Impossible Us is narrated in two voices, Nick and Bee’s and partly in an epistolary style.
Here is an excerpt in Nick’s narratives.
‘ DESPERATION. HOPE. IN the weeks following what would eventually become known as Euston- Gate, I became overly familiar with those two weeks. I now understand why desperate people find religion, or end up believing in aliens or conspiracy theories. Because sometimes the rational answer doesn’t cut it. Sometimes you have to look outside the box. And my hope-desperation twofer had led me way outside the box, all the way to a Willow Green allotment in fact, where, God help me, I was walking to meet a bunch of people who even the most charitable among us would label “raging nut-job weirdos.“‘
So Nick finds a bunch of people who may have some answers why he and Bee could not meet. It turns out that they are from two different worlds. Both worlds are ‘poisoned with racism, sexism, social and gender inequalities, and capitalism, albeit with subtle differences ( due to the social stigma attached to being a sociopathic greedy bastard)‘ Nick’s world is greener while Bee’s world is technologically more advanced. Nick’s world has Universal Basic Income and Bee sums up his reality as “Quaker capitalism with a side order of socialism“. Both worlds have the Google and the Net but in Bee’s world, it is not subject to reams of privacy legislation. Nick’s world has Elective Euthanasia but does not have Tinder. David Bowie is present in both worlds except that when they compare notes about the albums, they are different. Both worlds have experienced pandemics and they both have Star Wars, Star Trek and the Marvel Universe.
Bee asks Nick:
<Can I come to your semi-utopian world, Nick? Wait, do you have Netflix? >
<Scratch that then>
Here is an excerpt from Bee’s narratives
‘THE WHOLE THING was bonkers, with a capital WTF, but in a weird way it made sense. The Red Flags, his sincerity ( which, deep down, I knew couldn’t have been faked) , the technical glitches that occurred whenever we tried to communicate via methods other than e-mail. Alternate reality and parallel universe theories were part of our DNA and pop culture; even I, a quantum-physics ignoramus, was aware of them. But bizarre as it all was ,it took me a surprisingly short amount of time to stop using the stipulation “if this IS what’s actually happening.” Because, I suppose, adaption and acceptance were also hardwired into our DNA. Nick was right:people needed answers. We needed answers, and this was the only one we had. And, as shallow as it sounds, my overriding emotion was relief at having him back. A missing piece restored in good order. ‘
Imagine two nearly identical world with some differences….
Bee asks Nick :
< Did you have 9/11, Nick>
<The Twin Towers blown up?>
< Fuck no. Bloody hell Bee>
< So no Iraq War, Afghanistan??ISIS?>
<You mean Biscuit? 🙂 No. We are fully in the eurozone>
No wonder Nick keeps mentioning euros.
The question is when you know that is your soul-mate, how far would you go for love?
Lotz is imaginative and original in that she makes her central characters go further by looking up the versions of each other in their respective sides of the world. In Nick’s world, there is Rebecca when in Bee’s world, there is Nicholas. With the Internet, it is not difficult to track down each other’s versions in the parallel world. When they locate each other’s version in their respective world, they make contact with their other versions and things get complicated. The whole story is full of twists and turns, it is hilarious and a fun ride. The Impossible Us by Sarah Lotz is an excellent read for diehard romantics.