This week’s prompt from Charli Mills concerns the idea of alternate realities – multiverses. August 6, 2014 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) craft a multiverse situation, setting or character(s). Charli gives us some examples thus:
- Time travel, back in time or into the future. It can be ancient, or yesterday.
- Another dimension which a character can access beyond his own. A world that exists to his simultaneously.
- Space travel that enters wormholes and emerges elsewhere.
- A child in a living room accessing the North Pol.
- An event that already occurred but is now re-animated on the front lawn.
- A character discussing the theory, or using it to explain historical events or predict the future.
- A character debunking the theory.
- Describing a familiar scene or event told as a parallel universe.
- Two separate characters from separate worlds colliding.
- An unseen world like an army of pickles living in the frig
Her post deals with another interesting idea, namely how her childhood involvement with an imagined world has informed her abilities as a writer to imagine other worlds, other times and other places without the need to feel she has been there.
I wonder, to what extent, that is true of me. What were the childhood stimuli that I still refer to, consciously and, possibly subconsciously? For instance do I have a feeling for prosaic home spun adventures because I loved Enid Blyton?
I know one thing, though. I fell in love, at an early age, with the Adventures of Tintin and have, ever since, loved the worlds created by Hergé. I was lost in those worlds. I can still be lost there.
Georges Remi (Hergé is his pseudonym) created the Belgium boy reporter and his loyal companion, Milou (or Snowy in the English version) in the late 1920s. Initially his cartoon stories had a political angle – he wrote for a right wing Belgium paper, Le Vingtième Siècle (the Twentieth Century) – as did his first three book: on the inadequacies of communism (Tintin in the Land of the Soviets); justifying colonialism (Tintin in Congo); and the stupidities and excesses in prohibition America (Tintin in America).
Then he was posted to Asia and wrote what became the Cigars of the Pharaohs. This, and the subsequent Blue Lotus, had a better plot and more interesting characters but still continued with the political overtones – the description of China in the latter is meant to be particularly acute. However, his stories were becoming more adventures and less a treatise. King Ottokar’s Sceptre came next; it is one of my favourites, having a brilliant plot but in it he still found the time to take a swipe at the Nazi annexation of Austria and Czechoslovakia – a clue: the ultimate baddy is Mussler – a corruption of Mussolini and Hitler.
Then the war came to his backdoor when Germany invaded Belgium and Hergé had to concentrate on to pure adventure stories. It is these stories that, I believe, defined him and his legacy, especially his two-book tales: The Secret of the Unicorn and Red Rackham’s Treasure; Destination Moon and Explorers on the Moon; the Seven Crystal Balls and Prisoners of the Sun.
I wonder if my early love of long words comes from Captain Haddock’s extraordinary swearing. I wanted to visit the castle in Scotland where the gorilla lived (The Black Island); I read the Shooting Star and longed to see Surtsey when it exploded to the surface in 1963; I read about the sun’s eclipse in The Prisoner of the Sun and hoped one day to experience one myself (I’m still waiting).
It wasn’t only the places and the plots. It was the characters. He peoples his books with fabulous characters. The baddies were perfectly pitched: Dr Muller, Colonel Sponz and, especially Roberto Rastapopoulus. His friends came with flaws and were more real as a result: Captain Haddock, the iconoclast (one of his oaths); Cuthbert Calculus, the eccentric and rather hopeless professor; Chang, the loyal Chinese friend. Probably my favourites were the bumbling detectives – Thompson and Thomson – who, despite being incorrigibly incompetent, never ever gave up. The one character I didn’t really relate to, and that’s because he’s mostly pretty bland, is Tintin himself. I preferred my heroes to have flaws.
Why does this childhood cartoon remain so real? I don’t really know. All I can say is it isn’t only me. I went on a conference once where I discovered that one fellow delegate – a barrister called David – knew more about Tintin than I did and that took about two hours of each of us testing the other before I acknowledged the truth. Said barrister became a judge and he is now the most senior judge in our most senior court, the Supreme Court. David Neuberger is clever, balanced and empathetic and he loves Tintin with a ridiculous passion. That seems to me to be the perfect CV for the country’s top judge. And when France had its first millionaire winner on its version of Who Wants to be a Millionaire, the Million Euro question was from Tintin: ‘What was the name of the Doctor in The Castafiore Emerald?’
Sorry about the digression. Charli had her Barbies, defending the Range against Outlaws. I had Tintin, but more specifically his companions, with whom to have adventures. I owe Hergé a debt and this is a small thank you.
Now, I need to post my flash.
Every Mirror tells a Story
Mary hated herself for her indifference to Alison, her late father’s mistress. She wanted to hate her but just felt empty.
In her father’s study she stood in front of the mirror, staring the reflection of his picture. ‘Why?’
Water ran down the mirror, like tears distorting his face. His lips moved. ‘I’m so sorry.’
Peter pushed through the miasma that separated his world from Mary’s, willing her to understand. They’d told him it would take all his courage, all his strength to make the bridge. If only he had had found the courage and strength before he died.