(Originally posted on LiveJournal)
Excuse me while I have a strange interlude:
Lately I’ve been thinking of time travel and alternate universes. (Not too surprising, since new Doctor Who episodes started this month.) This past week I’ve bought PDF copies of Pacesetter’s RPG Time Master and its supplement Timetricks … as yet unread, just like GURPS Infinite Worlds, C°NTINUUM, Timestream, Time & Temp, Timelord (based on Doctor Who), BTRC’s Time Lords, newly released Microscope RPG (not time travel per se, but history building nonetheless), not to mention a whole bunch of historical settings and supplements. I buy games and books like Imelda Marcos bought shoes.
Still, there’s an undeniable appeal to the ultimate “what if” game. For example, we all remember the original Star Trek’s epic eighteen year run, the longest of any American science fiction series. Captain Pike (Jeffrey Hunter) and “Number One” (Majel Barrett) became part of the pop culture pantheon, along with eager Martian cadet Spock (Leonard Nimoy). So many things could have gone wrong, though. Gene Roddenberry might have tried to micromanage instead of letting Gene Coon and D. C. Fontana supervise the scripts. Jeffrey Hunter may have backed out. The network execs might have rejected the first pilot and, incredibly, ordered recasting and other ridiculous changes. Imagine the captain of the Enterprise played not by the King of Kings, but, say, some hammy Canadian actor … the show might have tanked in three years, and been forgotten. This is a trivial example, of course, compared to the standard “Nazis Win” or “Confederates Win” scenarios, but a world that’s just slightly off is somehow more unsettling than dystopias writ large.
Normally I don’t sympathize with cats, but I pity Keyboard Cat, stuffed into a t-shirt and jostled by puppet arms for human pleasure.