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6

"Window", a short story by Bob Leman, first published in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, May 1980, available at the Internet Archive. This famous story has been the subject of several questions on this site. Scientists or mathematicians find a way to peer into an alternate dimension. Sort of. The interdimensional portal was the accidental ...


18

The question snippet matches with practically the only thing I remember about the 1993 made for TV movie Doorways. Cat, a fugitive from a parallel Earth ruled by aliens, lands on "our" Earth in the middle of a freeway, causing an accident. She is slightly injured, and wakes up in the emergency room of a hospital, where Thomas, a doctor, takes care of her....


5

It sounds a lot like Sliders. The show aired on Fox and SyFy between 1995 and 2000, and followed a group of people lost on alternate versions of earth, trying to find their way home, through the use of wormholes between universes. The show follows a group of people who travel ("slide") between different Earths in parallel universes via a vortex-like ...


-1

Since it was deleted out of the question, the querent clarified: I've located the second story - it is called "Confessions of a Con Girl" by Nick Wolven - from The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year Volume Twelve. (ed Jonathan Strahan, Solaris Books, 2018). It's available to read on asimovs.com. And, as Valorum noted in their answer, the ...


1

The first story is The Infinite Assassin (1991) by Greg Egan. The protagonist is a man employed because his self tends to remain consistent across infinite realities in a worlds where a drug called S allows access to these parallel worlds. His job is to track down the few people who do not just dream their alternate lives but drag the rest of us in there ...


0

W. S. Gilbert, of Gilbert and Sullivan fame, wrote a play in 1881 called "Foggerty's Fairy", in which the Foggerty of the title makes a wish that he had never met one of his two fiancees and then wakes up in a different reality. https://www.gsarchive.net/gilbert/plays/foggerty/foggerty.html


0

This isn't an attempt to better the existing answers but just to address the term "other dimensions" as a frame challenge, as it can mean different things in different works of fiction. The term "dimensions" has come to be used in science-fiction to mean alternate realities or universes. From a linguistic point of view, this isn't really correct. It seems ...


1

I think the question as posed is difficult to answer because "alternate reality" has a lot of meanings. Several of the other answers go by the definition of "World which is in the same space as the normal one but inaccessible except by special means", which then results in no clear answer, because as somebody else explained, technically any afterlife belief ...


6

The concept of alternate dimensions/realities—also known as a multiverse—has strong roots in various religions and dates back thousands of years B.C. Multiverses are not a modern or new concept. The concept of the multiverse has been explored for thousands of years to attempt to explain basic human existence, life and death… The ultimate “why” of this all. ...


6

If the question is, as you put it, "was there a definitive early example which defined and popularized the concept", one has to bring up H.G. Wells's 1923 utopian novel Men Like Gods as an early example. Men Like Gods was written by a well-known author of the time, published in the US and UK, and received widespread critical attention. It even attracted a ...


12

So I'm just going to be that guy and say, "The question is wrong." You've explicitly disallowed religious texts from answers, but it means you'll never get the truth. In reality, the most well-documented, best-protected documents are those considered sacred by the people who wrote them. We will naturally see far more ancient documentation on religion and ...


7

While it’s not fictional itself, it seems worth mentioning Hugh Everett III’s 1957 scientific paper (and PhD thesis) The Theory of the Universal Wave Function, which was the first thing to give an actual scientific basis to parallel universes, and turned such stories into science fiction instead of fantasy.


6

One very famous example of visiting the future, coming back, and creating a different timeline is Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, from 1843. You’ve all read it: “Assure me that I yet may change these shadows you have shown me, by an altered life!”


5

This sounds like Dark City: John Murdoch awakens alone in a strange hotel to find that he has lost his memory and is wanted for a series of brutal and bizarre murders. While trying to piece together his past, he stumbles upon a fiendish underworld controlled by a group of beings known as The Strangers who possess the ability to put people to sleep ...


16

I have been reminded that a related question, What was the earliest SF work that used the idea of the "Multiverse"?, was asked a couple of years ago, at which time I gave the following answer, which was accepted: 1915: A Drop in Infinity, a novel by Gerald Grogan, available at the Internet Archive. Reviewed by Everett F. Bleiler in Science-Fiction: The ...


4

Borges wrote a number of stories on the topic. The Garden of Forking Paths in 1941 and A New Refutation of Time in 1944. I think this is the one where he talks about a father putting a heavy iron sphere on the back of his son, crushing him so his double in another reality could fly. Investigation of Borges' antecedents and footnotes would be a fertile ...


29

According to the Wikipedia article on Parallel Universes, In one of the stories-within-a-story of Thousand And One Nights, "The Adventures of Bulukiya", the protagonist Bulukiya [learns] of alternative worlds/universes that are similar to but still distinct from his own. I don't know if you consider 1001 Nights as a human belief system, but I think it ...


37

1928: "The Blue Dimension", a short story by Francis Flagg, published in Amazing Stories, June 1928, available at the Internet Archive. The first-person narrator's friend, a retired optometrist, has discovered that there are coexistent worlds separated from ours by different rates of vibration: "[. . .] Consider that we are living at a certain rate of ...


44

Maybe not exactly what the OP is looking for, but we'd be remiss if we went without mentioning Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions Published in 1884, Flatland depicts a 2-D world inhabited by polygons and lines, which then interacts with a 1-D world inhabited by points, a 3-D world inhabited by a sphere, and a 0-D world which is a point. While none of ...


17

Wikipedia has this to say: One of the first science fiction examples is Murray Leinster's Sidewise in Time, in which portions of alternative universes replace corresponding geographical regions in this universe. Sidewise in Time describes it in the manner that similar to requiring both longitude and latitude coordinates in order to mark your ...


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