Was TOS the first show to use the term 'parallel universe'?

Discussion in 'Star Trek - The Original & Animated Series' started by Melakon, Sep 3, 2013.

  1. Melakon

    Melakon Admiral Admiral

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    This might require a science fiction historian to answer.

    I'm watching "Mirror, Mirror" again and started wondering about the terminology of 'parallel universe' in regards to motion pictures and radio & television programs. I'm sure the term previously appeared in written fiction or scientific non-fiction, but what about in audio or visual presentation?

    I usually pin down the time that I was turning into a science fiction fan as 1959, when I was 8. I'm sure I might have seen Adventures of Superman before then, as we first got a TV around 1955. And I had dreams about dinosaurs walking around, so I might have seen 1933's King Kong too. I remember having wind-up and battery powered toy robots.

    I remember shows like Science Fiction Theater, Men Into Space, and The Twilight Zone by 1959. In 1963, Fireball XL5 and The Outer Limits appeared on two different networks in America.

    The terminology in those shows seemed to usually refer to other dimensions, with dimensions as the key word. Was Star Trek the first radio/tv program or film to refer to these as a parallel universe, which seemed to culturally evolve into alternate universe?
     
  2. Warped9

    Warped9 Admiral Admiral

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    I'd be surprised if TOS was the first. It probably was done in science fiction literature first and likely discussed in actual science before 1967. The idea of parallel universes or alternate worlds or alternate histories probably very old.
     
  3. Melakon

    Melakon Admiral Admiral

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    I did see references to the concept at least as far as the Arabian Nights, and then there's ancient mythology with alternate planes of existence like Mount Olympus. It probably shows up in a Greek play or something too.
     
  4. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    http://www.jessesword.com/sf/view/87

    As for TV shows specifically, The Twilight Zone did a 1963 episode called "The Parallel" in which a character crossed into a parallel universe. I'm not sure if that exact phrase was spoken in the episode, though.
     
  5. Melakon

    Melakon Admiral Admiral

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    It could be every show had its own conventional name for the concept. Though if Wells is getting the credit, that's a worthy origin.
     
  6. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Nope, in my experience the terms tend to be used pretty interchangeably by any given series -- various mixes of "parallel/alternate" with "world/universe/dimension/reality." It's not like shows would have style guides for something like that. It'd just be whatever the screenwriter chooses to call it.

    By the way, via a phrase search of Chakoteya's transcript site: TOS used "parallel universe" in "The Alternative Factor" first, "Mirror, Mirror" second. TAS use "alternate universe" in "The Time Trap," and DS9, VGR, and ENT used both phrases interchangeably. VGR used "parallel reality" once; DS9 used "alternate timeline" once. ST 2009 used "alternate reality." "Alternate dimension" showed up in VGR twice, but I don't think it was used to mean what we're talking about here. Doctor Who has used both "parallel world" and "parallel universe" multiple times. Surprisingly there are no hits for "alternate history."
     
  7. plynch

    plynch Commodore Commodore

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    In the DC comics, they had Earth-1, Earth-2, Earth-S idea going before Trek.
     
  8. Greg Cox

    Greg Cox Admiral Premium Member

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    Good call.

    More specifically, DC had been milking the "parallel worlds" thing since "Flash of Two Worlds," which first appeared in September 1961.
     
  9. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    There are very, very few terms that Trek actually coined, aside from species names and such. "Phaser" and "photon torpedo" and, I think, "impulse drive" are original to Trek, and I don't think teleporters had been called transporters before. "Warp drive" predates Trek, but it seems to have originated "warp speed" and "warp factor." And it debuted "Class M" to refer to Earthlike planets, as well as terms for telepathy like "mind meld." But a lot of terms we tend to associate most with Trek, like "subspace" and "deflector" and "tractor beam" and "Prime Directive," predate it by decades.
     
  10. Noname Given

    Noname Given Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Nope - both the Twilight Zone and The Outer Limits (the original 1960ies run) had stories involving parallel universes and used the term.
     
  11. E-DUB

    E-DUB Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    In addition to the TZ episode already cited, there was one called "Mirror Image", in which a young woman encounters strange events at a bus stop involving a look-alike. Don't know if the term was used then but maybe.
     
  12. Happy Xmas (War Is Over)

    Happy Xmas (War Is Over) Fleet Admiral Premium Member

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    There probably is a parallel universe where Star Trek is the first show to use the term 'parallel universe'
     
  13. Melakon

    Melakon Admiral Admiral

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    Gerry Anderson did a live action film that ran under different titles, The Doppelgangers aka Journey to the Far Side of the Sun. Don't remember what they called it then, thought it was supposed to be a physical world, not alternate universe I think.
     
  14. Happy Xmas (War Is Over)

    Happy Xmas (War Is Over) Fleet Admiral Premium Member

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    I remember that film. I think "Counter-Earth" is a term I've heard used for that situation.