I read this in an anthology a few years ago, however a particular plot line should help date when it was published. A female scientist enters the Institute she runs and logs on. It soon becomes clear she is in contact with her counterpart in a parallel Earth.

They've both had a failed relationship with the same love rat and are both in the same job. Earth 2 has some differences, another astronaut took 'one small step' and some major historical battles had different outcomes, most things are on a similar development track.

In both worlds the women are making fortunes from unpublished works by major authors etc. They discuss films and our world scientist mentions Casablanca, the other woman has never heard of it. She checks her database and declares it's some old turkey of a movie starring Ronald Reagan and Anne Sheridan and poorly rated.

Our scientist instantly offers to trade for the Humphrey Bogart version and explains to Earth 2 that Reagan is now Governor of California (thus dating this story). Earth 2 woman is nonplussed and queries this based on some film Reagan made with a monkey.

At this point another transmission comes over A A A A A and they realise yet another parallel Earth is making contact. There follows a computer 'handshake' and they are soon chatting with Earth 3.

They quickly establish they are all the same scientist with the same failed love affair and exchange a few Flash Gordon Earth 2 jokes and new woman asks if the others have a finished Edwin Drood novel in their worlds.

The story finishes with scientist 1 saying "Sooner or later, one of us will" implying that there would be a lot more Earths to contact

  • 2
    Heh. Those are a lot of fun references. The Reagan movies are the ones with Bonzo the chimpanzee, I suspect. Bedtime for Bonzo is the most famous one.
    – FuzzyBoots
    Aug 11 '18 at 13:14

Sharon Farber's "Trans Dimensional Imports" from 1980. To quote the TVTropes entry on The Multiverse:

Contact between universes is difficult because the necessary equipment has to be operating in both at the same time, but one scientist has succeeded in contacting her alternate self. They've build a minor business, trading literary works that exist in one world but not the other. With expanded bandwidth, they're considering other art forms. E.g. in one universe, Ronald Reagan went into politics, becoming governor of California. In the other, he had starred in a B-movie called Casablanca. So they agree to a swap — "You get a classic; we get a joke."

It came up when I searched for short story parallel earths casablanca reagan.

You can read a copy of the Asimov magazine it appeared in on the Internet Archive. You are correct about how it ends:

—yes, i think so oh i understand period do you have the ending of edwin drood questionmark


  • I can't find very much about her. Sharon N Farber (to distinguish her from composer Sharon Farber) seems to have won a fantasy award years ago and then faded into obscurity
    – Danny Mc G
    Aug 11 '18 at 18:40
  • 2
    @Danny3414: She is still writing (isfdb.org/cgi-bin/ea.cgi?1323) albeit largely under the "S. N. Farber" name and there's only one work published since 2001. "Sharon N. Farber is a native of Northern California, where she raises apples and horses. She is a perpetual student of the sciences" (worldswithoutend.com/author.asp?ID=5278)
    – FuzzyBoots
    Aug 11 '18 at 18:53

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