"So Many Worlds Away . . ."
By Dwight V. Swain (1915-92).
First appearance: Imagination, July 1952.
Illustration by W. E. Terry (1921-92; HERE).
Short story (20 pages; 17 pages as a PDF).
Online at The Luminist Archives (HERE; original text; 20 pages; go down to page 122), Archive.org (HERE; original text; 20 pages), and Project Gutenberg (HERE; 17 pages).
"Horning's married life was unbearable so he sought peace in another dimension. But was his past somehow linked with other worlds? . . ."
They say if you go far enough you'll eventually meet yourself; Raymond has a chance to do that very thing, but he'll soon learn just how unpleasant such an encounter can be . . . .
". . . smiled up at him as always, so real the sight of her brought a tightness to his throat. When he closed his eyes, he could almost hear her voice, rippling with gay, gentle laughter. He felt her lips on his . . . her dark, silken hair against his cheek."
". . . sagged back against the workbench—shaken, unable to speak. It was as if, of a sudden, he were seeing his wife through new eyes."
"That woman—that creature—she could be dead a thousand years and I'd still hate her—!"
~ "Doctor Raymond X. Horning":
"An ugly, snub-nosed pistol of strange design was in his hand."
References and resources:
- "Parmenides and his theory of the Eternal Now": A 5th century B.C. philosopher; see Wikipedia (HERE) for an article about him.
"And so for Parmenides, there is no change. The reality/universe is continuous, unchanging and eternal. Now note that this is NOT the testimony of our senses. Our senses (strongly) suggest that things are changing all the time, precisely as Heraclitus claims. Parmenides‘s radical metaphysics (along with the epistemology it implied) lead other philosophers to try to refute Parmenides monism and timeless-ness, especially since change in everyday life seem[s] so much more evident than oneness. Parmenides’s student Zeno famously defended his teacher’s views with his ingenious paradoxes about the space, time and motion (a principal kind of change)" ("Pre-Socratic Epistemology and Metaphysics: Parmenides and Heraclitus" HERE).
|From the Class of 475 B.C. yearbook.|
- "snatched a Stillson wrench": A handy tool, indeed, but never intended to be used in a fight:
"The Stillson wrench is an adjustable wrench (spanner) with hardened serrated teeth on its jaws. The hard teeth bite into the softer metal of the round pipe and provide the grip needed to turn a pipe, even against fair resistance. The design of the adjustable jaw, which permits a certain amount of intentional play out of square, allows it to bind on the pipe, with forward pressure on the handle pulling the jaws tighter. Two leaf springs, above and below the knurled adjusting knob, help unlock the jaw when pressure on the handle of the wrench is released" (Wikipedia HERE).
- "dirty white mules": Footwear:
"Mule is a style of shoe that has no back or constraint around the foot's heel. Mules have a history going as far back as Ancient Rome, even though they were not popularly worn until sixteenth-century Europe. There, mules were bedroom slippers and not worn in public. Through the centuries, mules have changed in style and purpose and are no longer just boudoir shoes but are worn at any time, for any occasion" (Wikipedia HERE).
- We've encountered Dwight V. Swain only once before: "The Transposed Man" (HERE). You'll also find links to other information about him there.
- The multiverse trope has proven to be a handy hook to hang a plot on: Ray Wood's "Schrödinger’s Gun" (HERE), Sam Merwyn's "Third Alternative" (HERE), and J. W. Armstrong's "Reversal of Misfortune" (HERE).