The Appeal of Parallel Universes in TS

I've noticed that there seems to be a lot more stories set in alternate histories and parallel universes in The Sentinel fandom, than in other fandoms. Why is that?

(Note: by "parallel universe" I mean a story where the universe is completely different, or sufficiently different that one cannot point to one single event that made it different. By "alternate history", I mean a universe in which a specific event or events happened differently, thus changing history. However, Alternate Universe, or AU can also mean both these kinds of stories.)

There are three kinds of AU stories. One is the "let's fix it" type, a second kind is the "AU-after-the-fact" kind of story, and another is the "What would it be like if...?" story.

The "let's fix it" kind of story is one where something happens in the cannonical universe which is so awful, that fans revolt against the idea, and write stories in which this event is ignored, avoided, or changed. This kind of story is pretty common in any fandom in which TPTB make unpopular decisions, kill off characters and suchlike. There aren't particularly more of them in The Sentinel than in any other fandom.

  • Blake's 7: save Our heros from death in "Blake", save Cally from death in "Terminal"
  • Angel: Doyle didn't die!
  • Highlander: Richie didn't die!
  • Stargate SG-1: Daniel didn't die/ascend/leave...
  • Sentinel: save Our Anthropologist!
  • Forever Knight: the last season didn't happen.
  • Beauty & the Beast: the last season didn't happen.

There are also stories which possibly belong in this category, where the author explores aspects of the series that didn't get enough emphasis in canon - stories where Blair takes his Shaman role more seriously than he did in canon, for example.

The AU-after-the-fact stories happen when people write fanfic while a show is still in production, set their story after the end of the current series, and then find when the next season starts, that, quite unsurprisingly, they have gone in a different direction to what actually happens in canon. In The Sentinel, lots of post "Sentinel Too, part 1" stories were written in this way. Likewise, in Highlander, many stories set in the far future with a living Ritchie weren't techinically "denial" stories, because, when they were written, nobody had an inkling that Richie was going to be killed off. These stories, also, are quite as frequent in one fandom as in any other.

The third kind of story is the purely speculative kind, and tends to have more Parallel universes than Alternative Histories. What would it be like if

  • the characters were in a different setting
  • certain characters hadn't met where and when they did in the cannonical universe

Now, I've seen a few of these in Blake's 7 - the "mirror universe" of Joe Nazzaro's "Reflections in a Shattered Glass", the anthology "Patterns of Infinity" which put the B7 characters into different periods of history, and "Renaisance", which put Blake, Avon and Vila into the Renaisance period.

There have even been cannonical parallel universes in Dr Who, Highlander and Stargate (but I guess they don't quite count in this section because they are cannonical).

But I have seen a lot more of this kind of fiction in Sentinel fandom than I have seen elsewhere.

  • Cindy Combs' "Roachia" universe, which puts Our Heros on an alien planet in the far future.
  • Yvonne McCool's "Ugrade" universe, which puts Our Heros into a far future where cyborg Sentinels work in police and space.
  • Susan Foster's "GDP" universe, a not-so-far future where Sentinels are well known and Guides are treated as slaves.
  • Rimilod's "After the Fall" universe, a near-future post-apocalyptic universe where groups scrabble in the ruins of Cascade.
  • D.L. Witherspoon's "Alternate Reality" universe, where Blair is a lawyer and Jim was jailed for a murder he didn't commit.
  • Carikube's I-L-A-S-C universe where Jim and Blair are Australians in Australia.
  • Riveana Michael's "Footpaths Through Peru" series, where Blair and Jim meet in Peru, much earlier.
  • Majik's "What Might Have Been" universe, where Blair doesn't meet Jim during Switchman, and Jim's life takes a different turn.
  • Linda3's "Driving Rain" series, where Blair and Jim meet in slightly different circumstances, but not that much later than they did in canon.
  • Dasha's "Imperfections" series, where Sentinels and Guides are well-known, but otherwise it's a universe fairly similar to our own.

And there's probably more.

But why does this kind of story have so much appeal for TS fans?

Note: If you're looking for these stories, try Cascade Library: or links from my Net-Fic Reviews page.