I remember the day I received my copy. It was 2005 and I had just turned nine. Rav Sabbati led me into a dark corner of the Beit Midrash at the Sinagoga Al-Hambra, handed me this and told me that he understood I had an interest in cross-universe travel and that he could help me with it. He would let me have this book now, and if I turned nineteen and was still interested, he would connect me with the Consortium pour le voyage et l’etude d’univers alternatifs, in Lyons.
Since then, my copy of this book has seen thousands of timestreams in hundreds of universes. It’s gazed upon the mechanized horror of Nazi Germania and the crumbling boulevards of Paris under Soviet occupation. It’s served as a improvised notebook for recording the singsong language of the walen (Dutch-affiliated whale communities; long story) and the consonant-heavy folksongs of the Muscovite Nyandertalets.
This book has ridden in the bag of the striking garment workers of the Arbeiter Ring as a roiling New York City faced off with the National Guard. It’s seen the Appalachian Free State and the Negro Revolt, and stood stopped a Union bullet at Ninth Manassas in 1934. It’s ridden the steppes of the great Khazar Empire with the Ninth Armoured Reconnaissance Division “Khagan Yosef’s Own”. It’s seen the underwater kingdoms of the Eelmen of the Pacific Rift. It’s staunched bleeding wounds and holes in dikes. It’s been signed by soldiers and musicians, commercial airship pilots and the conductors on the underwater trains that crisscross the Pacific. In the back cover is the small, cramped signature of John Peacock Flannery O’Nann (W-Deseret), the first Neanderthal President of the United States.
Interestingly, there has never yet been an Earth I’ve seen where humans, or hominins did not tread. I think that counts for something.