This story involves a building that has portals to different Earths, all on the same timeline, with slightly different histories. The portals are difficult to find, and new ones are on occasion discovered. The world the novel takes place in is an authoritarian society, with Joe Kennedy being mentioned as president.

Most of the story involves undercover work in the alternate timelines. The story takes place in the 1970's, as one of the new worlds discovered had a new president named "Jimmy Carter".

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    While the overall theme is the same, the limited specific details you supply aren't an exact match - but the description as you've given it made me immediately think of Frederick Pohl's 1986 novel, The Coming of the Quantum Cats (Wikipedia entry at the link). A little bit more consideration suggested that Michael P. Kube-McDowell's 1988 novel, Alternities (Goodreads link), might be a better match. Commented Aug 23, 2018 at 19:51
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    In any case, the more information you can provide about the story (and when/where you read it), the more likely it is that someone can identify it for you. We recommend that you look at our Guide: How to Ask a Good Story-ID Question and see what info you can add to this question. Commented Aug 23, 2018 at 19:52
  • A partial match for your title and plot points (but not the answer, since "the portals are difficult to find" does not fit) would be "S.T.A.R. Flight", by E. C. Tubb (1969). The portals do connect different versions of the same timeline, one world is an authoritarian society, there is undercover work when the protagonist tries to seize control of the Star Gates from its controlling race, weirdly humanoid -- because they're Earthmen too.
    – LSerni
    Commented Aug 24, 2018 at 18:03
  • Jimmy Carter was elected in 1976 as a rather surprising candidate, which means that your novel was probably written afterward. Commented Jun 13, 2021 at 18:36

1 Answer 1


As mentioned in the comment by Jeff Zeitlin above, this is a good match to Michael Kube-McDowell's Alternities, published 1988.

As taken from the outline posted by user Scott Halstad at goodreads.com, some main characters are:

Rayne Wallace, a "Runner" who goes between alternate versions of America...

President Robinson, who's a psychotic intent upon starting a nuclear war with Russia, which in this world (the "Home" alternity) is a big bully to pussycat America... he intends to use these alternate Earths as escape vehicles for he and his government cronies so that they can continue to dominate worlds while their America is obliterated by Russian nukes...

Senator Endicott, who discovered the "gates" to these alternative Americas, although we're never told how. He has women from these alternities brought over for him to serve as sex slaves whom he ultimately murders...

Halstad's review also mentions a significant plot point that may ring a bell:

Then there's the mysterious maze that lies between the alternate gates with its own demon that destroys people it encounters.

I've also read the book, and I can confirm that it ends on the note that a new reality has been identified, which is implied to be our own. I found this review, which contains an aside that confirms Jimmy Carter is mentioned:

(our own timeline is discovered late in the novel, and merits only a brief line about President Carter)

As I recall, it is also discovered there are a limited number of alternities, and that the shape of the maze is a regular polyhedron (dodecahedron? icosahedron?). Also, within the main character's organization, each alternity is designated by a color, and most of the action centers around Alternity Red and Alternity Blue.

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    This! That is it! Thank you so much! No matter what keywords or descriptions, this never came up!
    – Opos1
    Commented Aug 29, 2018 at 13:46
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    @Opos1 if Otis' answer has helped you, you could (and should :) ) accept it by clicking on the checkmark button.
    – Jenayah
    Commented Aug 31, 2018 at 6:39

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