“Sidewise in Time,” Murray Leinster, 1934 – Everett Bleiler in The Gernsback Years describes it as: “The Earth suddenly becomes a shifting patchwork of different time segments in the same geographical area as various alternative worlds exchange portions with our world.” A Norse colony, a jungle with dinosaurs, a Confederate army unit, an America conquered by Romans, etc. from different universes where each is thriving switch places with geographical analogs in the “real” world. “The story is presented in a series of such alternate-time vignettes strung on the narrative thread of Professor Minott’s expedition into the new lands.” Minott is a professor at a unassuming college who “seems to have been the only to anticipate and understand the breakdown of time and space…” and “the worlds of if…” The “probabilities are that the spasm” will destroy the universe. Minott is dictatorial and intends to make himself the ruler of a Norse colony. He brings along students who are unaware of his plans, and they eventually learn the truth, rebel, and return home. He “continues his venture sidewise in time” and his fate is left unknown.
Comments: Bleiler calls it a “competent thriller.” Asimov also calls it a “thought-variant,” and states that it made him conscious of the “ifs” of history. Read in Before the Golden Age, Volume 2.
Author:Wikipedia: “Murray Leinster (June 16, 1896 – June 8, 1975) was a nom de plume of William Fitzgerald Jenkins, an award-winning American writer of science fiction and alternate history. He wrote and published over 1,500 short stories and articles, 14 movie scripts, and hundreds of radio scripts and television plays.”