Week 10 – Alternate History

What other TV shows or movies can you think of which have sinister doubles in them and which of the above category do you think they belong to?

There are multiple shows out there that have used the doppelganger or shapeshifter character in some way. Such shows include Supernatural (2005-), The Vampire Diaries (2009-2017), The Originals (2013-2018) and the X-men franchise.

Supernatural, a sci-fi horror thriller fantasy creation, works with several characters and creatures such as shapeshifters and demons/angels that use the doppelganger trope in different ways. Shapeshifters, as the name suggests, turn into another thing or person and disguise themselves as that person – as seen throughout the series in multiple seasons. Angels and demons on the other hand inhabit the original character and become them, taking over their body and using it as their own. Though this may not be traditional doppel-ganging or shapeshifting technique, for other characters interacting with this character they believe they are talking with the original person and therefore there is an element to the ideas surrounding doppelgangers and doubles being sinister powers or harbourers of ill-fate. These doubles align more with the synthetic doubles type as they are taking the shape of something/someone ‘organically’ rather than ‘technologically’.

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A Shapeshifter using Dean as a disguise
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A shapeshifter shedding their skin and morphing into another person

The Vampire Diaries is a notorious show for doppelgangers. The main character Elena Gilbert has two known doppelgangers – Katherine Pierce whom we see from the first season onwards and Amara, the original doppelganger in the Petrova Doppelganger line, who comes into play in Season Five.

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Katherine Pierce, Amara, and Elena Gilbert

On top of that we have Stefan Salvatore and Silas, Silas being the original of the Salvatore Doppelganger line who turns up in Season Four. These doppelganger lines have been intertwined throughout history and they are critical for the series. These are all genetic doubles with a considerable repetition cycle in play – had Stefan had children before he was turned into a vampire you can be there would’ve been another doppelganger of the Salvatore doppelganger line the same age as Elena. As these are all naturally occurring doubles, or as natural as you can get, there align themselves within the genetic-doubles category.

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Mystique from the X-men franchise is another shapeshifter who has the ability to morph into other people. Though this is a genetic mutation and could therefore be argued that Mystique can be a case for both genetic and synthetic doppelganger alignment, Mystique is generally regarded as a synthetic double. She uses her own mutation as a means of wearing another person’s skin and we have seen in both comics and the movies how she does so.

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Mystique shifting into her ‘preferred’ appearance

Week 10

What role did the I Ching play in the novel’s composition and philosophical underpinning?

I Ching is an ancient Chinese classical literature, but it is interesting that it has become the fantasy foundation of many science fiction works in western literature. For example, Philip K. Dick’s 1962 new, the man in the high castle was written on what if Japan won at the parallel universes of World War II (Mountfort, 2018). The author uses a lot of historical reference elements and tries to imagine that scene with his imagination. The idea and the use of philosophical elements are all from this book.

More about the book of I Ching

I Ching gives me the feeling that it is a book about natural philosophy. Its purpose is to let you see the truth of human life in nature.

There are three main contents.

1. Everything in the world is relative rather than absolute.

2. Things that do not follow the laws of nature are ultimately dead end.

3. According to the laws of nature, we can infer what will happen in the future.

How do these ideas relate to science fiction?

There are three highlights in the The man in the high castle:

  1. the work is based on an elevated history, that is, the axis won the World War II and divided the world.
  2. The United States is divided into three parts: Japanese, German and neutral. America is also the main stage of the story.
  3.  Although it’s western science fiction, But the book of changes is an important element of the original. There is a book in the original book called locust disaster, which describes a world similar to the historical process of the real world and has a great impact on the characters in the story. It is a very interesting clue object.

Based on science, science fiction shows another realm of analysis, indicating a possible direction for the development of human civilization: assuming that science fiction focuses on the imagination of “outer space” material science and technology; fantasy is looking back on human’s own deep thinking and peeping into the endless “inner space” in human mind.

Science fiction is absolutely a unique form of creation in this era, breathing the fresh breath of this era.

Therefore, Darwin’s evolutionism, Einstein’s relativity, the development of nuclear energy after the Second World War, space navigation, computer electronics, robots and so on, have made great efforts to science fiction, brought science fiction into its golden age, and gradually jumped from supporting role status to a single literary system, and become increasingly popular.

With the development of society, the decline of religion, the freedom of thought, the expansion of science fiction, the ever-changing content, and the ever-changing themes: alien creatures, the future society, the fantastic extraterrestrial world, super time and space, human evolution and so on, there is no far to go, which makes people’s eyes open and their minds fly.

Novelists are no longer confined to the level of science, boldly cross the barrier of the material world, march into the “mysterious and mysterious” human spiritual realm, and explore the origin and ultimate, regeneration and destruction of things.

What’s more, it represents a reaction of human beings to the scientific and technological civilization, which improves the status of human beings and puts them above machines. With the spirit realm, we should break the material restriction and establish a man-centered world.

China’s I Ching, Laozhuang, Huangdi’s Internal Classic, Taoist Scriptures, yin and Yang education, lay a theory that is neither mysterious nor mysterious, and explore the mysterious relationship between heaven and earth.

Based on Western science fiction and Chinese metaphysics, we have developed unique works to create a new world of fantasy novels (HUANG, 2003) .

Science fiction brings literature into a new field, enabling human imagination to soar freely, to enter into the past, the future, the present or far-off time and space and country, to conceive any possible changes and things, and to search for the deep secrets of the universe.

Reference list:

HUANG, Y. (2003). super brain. 2nd ed. Culture and Art Press, pp.1-10.

Mountfort, P. (2016). The I Ching and Philip K. Dick’s The Man in the High Castle. Science Fiction Studies43(2), pp.287-309. doi:10.5621/sciefictstud.43.2.0287

Mountfort, P. (2018). Science fiction doubles: Technologization of the doppelganger and sinister science in serial science fiction TV. Journal of Science & Popular Culture1(1), pp.59-75. doi:10.1386/jspc.1.1.59_1.

Week 10

1.According to Mountfort (2016), what makes TMITHC a stand-out example of the alternate history (or uchronie) genre?

The Man in The High Castle” is an American novel created by Philip dick. With the plot of “The Book of Changes”, it tells a reversed “history” through the interweaving description of characters of different classes and identities, that is, the “Axis powers” became the victory side of the second world war. The novel is credited with defining a new literary genre, alternate history. The book of changes in China is an extensive and profound philosophical book of dialectics, which provides a theoretical basis for predicting the law of development of things. According to Mountfort (2016), The Book of Changes provides a philosophical theory for the creation of the novel the man in the high castle, namely the concept of simultaneity or the coincidental occurrence of meaningful events. However, the western interpretation of the development of things is based on causality. The two are completely different. The concept of The I Ching is introduced into the novel, which provides a new style for the novel, that called alternate history.

In The Man in The High Castle, the I Ching introduces an element of contingency, which indicates that other possibilities may exist in different time and space, because perhaps other hexagrams were cast in different realities (Everett & Halpern, 2013). This is also consistent with the view of some scholars that The Man in The High Castle is a maze of multiple universes. This phenomenon can also be explained by the many worlds of quantum physics (MWI). In addition, “The Man in The High Castle” uses one of the most popular themes in the field of alternative history, namely that the Nazis won world war ii (Rosenfeld, 2002). This theme also makes it a prominent example of alternative historical categories. High Castle’s hinge includes the assassination of President franklin Roosevelt by Giuseppe Zangara in 1934.The New Deal was never made, and the Great Depression and us isolationism continued. Hitler conquered Europe and the Soviet union, Japan, China, India and Oceania, Italy (with Nazi help), Africa. Japan invaded the west coast of the United States, the Nazi east coast and South America. The rocky mountain states became a buffer of quasi-freedom (Mountfort, 2016).

Because The Man in The High Castle does not adopt the traditional view of time, which is based on the linear and causal view of time. Instead, it takes a diachronic view of time, so the story is more “synchronic”. The author believes in the multiple coexistence of factors or facts, that everything is a whole, that reality is a seamless web. Such a clever arrangement of complex issues such as time and history make it superior to other alternative historical genres in terms of literary quality and depth of knowledge. That’s why “The Man in The High Castle” stands out in the alternate history category. As an example of alternate history, the novel’s philosophical complexity allows it to transcend the constraints of other types of fiction, making the plot both mysterious and well explained. Thus, the high castle is probably the most famous of all the alternate histories (Hellekson, 2002).


Everett, J., & Halpern, P. (2013). Spacetime as a Multicursal Labyrinth in Literature with Application to Philip K. Dick’s The Man in the High Castle. KronoScope13(1), 47-66. Retrieved from: https://brill.com/view/journals/kron/13/1/article-p47_5.xml

Hellekson, K. (2000). Toward a Taxonomy of the Alternate History Genre. Extrapolation41(3), 248-256. Retrieved from: https://online.liverpooluniversitypress.co.uk/doi/abs/10.3828/extr.2000.41.3.248?journalCode=extr

Mountfort, P. (2016). The I Ching and Philip K. Dick’s The Man in the High Castle. Science Fiction Studies43(2), 287-309. Retrieved from: https://blackboard.aut.ac.nz/bbcswebdav/pid-4926610-dt-content-rid-10490437_4/institution/Papers/ENGL602/Publish/Mountfort%202016_High%20Castle.pdf

Rosenfeld, G. (2002). Why do we ask “what if?” Reflections on the function of alternate history. History and Theory41(4), 90-103. Retrieved from: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/1468-2303.00222

Week 10

  • According to Mountfort (2016), what makes TMITHC a stand-out example of the alternate history (or uchronie) genre?

The Man In The High Castle by Philip K. Dick, is, according to Mountfort (2016), a standout text in the uchronie genre. He believes that it’s the “synchronistic view of time the I Ching confers on the work,” (Mountfort, 2016, p. 3) that makes it so significant. He mentions that we are also indebted to Carl Jung for his “synchronicity concept”, which helps us comprehend and understand the view of time within the novel (Mountfort, 2016).

  • What other TV shows or movies can you think of which have sinister doubles in them and which of the above category do you think they belong to?

American Sci-Fi Series Warehouse 13 is home to some sinister doubles. In Season 5 Episode 1, titled Endless Terror, previously deceased Regent Benedict Valda is one of the many familiar characters we see in a new light when our favourite agents are transported to an alternate reality of the warehouse. Valda, who originally sacrificed himself to save the other agents during a National-Treasure-esk moment in Season 2, comes back as a very much sinister character who is trying to take over the warehouse. After reading about the five main categories of sinister doubles; the coincidental, pseudo, biological, empathetic and useful double, laid out by Mountfort (2018), I have come to the conclusion that this particular sinister double does not exactly fit into any of these categories. Once Valda sees the agents from the other dimension, he immediately understands the nature of his circumstances. This particular episode of Warehouse 13 is almost an example of the uchronie genre, with the audience being able to look into a world where our heroes did not win the battle.


Mountfort, P. (2018). Science fictional doubles: Technologization of the doppelgänger and sinister science in serial science fiction TV. Journal of Science & Popular Culture, 1(1), 59–75. doi: 10.1386/jspc.1.1.59_1

Mountfort, P. (2016). The I Ching and Philip K. Dick’s The Man in the High Castle. Science Fiction Studies, 43(2), pp.287-309. doi:10.5621/sciefictstud.43.2.0287

Week 10 Alt History/Sci-fi

What other TV shows or movies can you think of which have sinister doubles in them and which of the above category do you think they belong to?

There are a large number of films and shows that covers the aspect of doppelgangers, shapeshifters, clones. Many of which showcases that the dopplegangers are sinister and are usually the villains that tortures their ‘good’ counterparts. These doubles are shown to be exactly like us, the appearance, features and anything that physically connects us to the doubles. However, when it comes to the subject of personality it is hard to copy. This is where the film Usand the tv show Vampire Diaries indicates this problem with doubles.

Unknown.jpegVampire Diaries is an excellent example of this topic as the main character Elena Gilbert has a doppleganger – Kathrine Pierce. In this show the dopplegangers exist only to balance out the world of the supernatural, these doppelgangers are connected because they are related but born in different eras. The main character Elena Gilbert is your typical high school teenager, popular and beautiful. However, is really kind and caring towards her family and friends. Her doppelganger: Kathrine Pierce although similar to Elena with the appearance, lacks the soul that Elena possesses. Kathrine is introduced in the tv show as manipulative and vindictive, she is jealous of Elena and is willing to do anything to destroy Elena’s happy life.


Kathrine is five-hundred years older than Elena, therefore the two are born in different centuries. However, Kathrine is desperate to live a normal happy life as Elena’s and undoubtedly tries to steal Elena’s place. This I believe is similar to Mountfort’s (2018) “Quantum Double”, since both doubles exist in parallel universe (different centuries), depending on fringe science. Kathrine is considered as the sinister double of Elena, this is because throughout the series she has replaced or pretended to be Elena to fool everyone around her and in result it is difficult for the audience to watch.


The film Us is another example that involves the whole idea of doubles, doppelgangers. The film created clones of each person and the clones live underground, the purpose of their creation is so that the government are able to control the people on the surface. Despite their ability to recreate the souls. As a result, the government abandoned the clones and one of the clones “Red” took control. Throughout the film, a family is being hunted by each of their clones to seek revenge.


This showcases that the clones represent the sinister side of the doubles. They (clones) attempts to take the lives of their doubles and their place in the world. The film also portrays a message to the viewers, that we are our own enemies. Staring into the mirror, we see ourselves but we are afraid to confront our fears. This is why the doubles or doppelgangers are different from the originals, they are similar in appearance but entirely different within the soul. The doubles represent he evil that lurks within us, that we choose to hide.

The two chosen texts both show an excellent use of doppelgangers, the doubles are each introduced in different ways yet results in similar messages that the viewers receive.


Joho, J., & Han, A. (2019). 4 Ways of Understanding Jordan Peele’s ‘Us’. Retrieved from: https://mashable.com/article/us-jordan-peele-explainer-themes/

Mountfort, P. (2018). Science Fictional doubles: Technologization of the doppelganger and sinister science in serial science fiction TV. Journal of Science and Popular Culture.1(1), 59–75. doi: 10.1386/jspc.1.1.59_1


Week 10: AltHistory/SciFi

What other TV shows or movies can you think of which have sinister doubles in them and which of the above category do you think they belong to?


The concept of doubles is one that, in many ways, is a pervasive fear for humans. The idea that there is something or someone who could replace you; take over your life, in most if not all of its aspects, and for there to be the potential for your replacement to not be noticed, has permeated literature, film, TV and gaming. Movies like Us and shows like Star Trek make use of Doppelgangers to create fear or challenge characters with the story, as well as allow us as viewers to engage our beloved character in new and interesting ways.

Star Trek is a strong proponent for the use of Doppelgangers in TV. “An episode in the second season of the original series, entitled “Mirror, Mirror” (1967), first introduced the trope” Hantke, (2014). The way they introduced the idea was through an alternate dimension, which mirrored the real one, and contained all of the beloved characters in a much darker light. In this and all subsequent appearances of characters from this universe, they would display often completely contrary beliefs, morals and values to the characters that the audience is used to. In some episodes, they replace the real characters for nefarious purposes, while in others, dead characters are ‘resurrected’ to force characters into difficult situations. These doubles are similar to the “Quantum doubles” referred to by Mountfort (2018), as their origin is in another parallel universe and so their existence is dependent on fringe science. The reason that they would count as sinister doubles (for the most part) is the way in which, while they appear to be the same as beloved main characters from the show, they often have clashing beliefs that lead them to behave in a way that is almost painful for the audience to watch. They also often replace their original counterparts, and then seek to further their own ends through their new found position.

Us is another text that makes use of doppelgangers to great effect. The text makes use of genetic doubles; clones of the primary characters who are identical in appearance but are evil in their aspect as they try to kill the “real” family as a means of revenge. The films use of doppelgangers is a message to the viewer, “that our shadow selves, our reverse negatives, are not separate entities from ourselves — we are simply our own aggressors.” Wilkinson (2019). The idea is that these clones, who have been living underground for their entire lives, share a soul with their counterparts, and need to kill them to free themselves. This is where the sinister aspect of the film comes in, as they try to kill each other for these esoteric reasons. The idea that they are almost two halves of the same person could mean that they fit into a more supernatural definition of doppelganger.

Both of these texts make excellent use of doppelgangers to create a sinister atmosphere in many cases, where the weirdness of having multiple copies of yourself is compunded by the evil nature of those same copies, even if in the case of Us they are only that way because of your mistakes (the fact that the government created them and then abandoned them.




Hantke, S. (2014). Star Treks Mirror Universe Episodes and US Military Culture through the Eyes of the Other. Science Fiction Studies41(3), 562. doi: 10.5621/sciefictstud.41.3.0562

Mountfort, P. (2018). Science fictional doubles: Technologization of the doppelgänger and sinister science in serial science fiction TV. Journal of Science & Popular Culture1(1), 59–75. doi: 10.1386/jspc.1.1.59_1

Wilkinson, A. (2019, March 20). Us is Jordan Peele’s thrilling, blood-curdling allegory about a self-destructing America. Retrieved from https://www.vox.com/culture/2019/3/20/18274105/us-review-jordan-peele-jeremiah-doppelganger.

Week 10 – Alt History/Sci-Fi

What role did the I Ching play in the novel’s composition and philosophical underpinning?

Alternative history refers to the science fictional genre which dramatize one or more historical events (Alternate history, n.d.). This genre is occurred by considering what if something happened instead of historical fact. For example, Philip K. Dick’s 1962 novel, The Man in the High Castle was written based on what if Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan won at the parallel universes of World War II (Mountfort, 2018). Therefore, with regard to the composition of The Man in the High Castle, the author used lots of historical elements to entertain audiences as if they were exploring the places in actual history through time-machine by written down historical and folksy elements in the novel.

Among those historical elements, especially I Ching is the vital part of The Man in the High Castle plot – in other words, without I Ching, the story could not be proceeded. I Ching, also known as the Book of Changes includes Chinese divination text uses hexagrams which is similar to the tarot card reading (Mountfort, 2016). According to Smith (2008), in the hexagrams, broken lines were referring the numbers 6 (六) and 8 (八), and solid lines were referring values of 7 (七) and 9 (九). Besides, I Ching, by Emperor Wu’s judgement, was placed among the Five Classics include “Confucianism, Daoism, Legalism, yin-yang cosmology, and Wu Xing physical theory” (Smith, 2008, p.32). This attractive divination text captivates Dick and considered by him as the most significant and 5,000 years of representative oriental oracle as well as a number of characters’ acts are controlled by I Ching in his novel (Fitzgerald, 2016). In terms of the various aspects of narrative, characters, settings, and time period, The Man in the High Castle rely on “the texts of the hexagrams, randomly generated by the counting of yarrow stalks or the casting of coins” (Fitzgerald, 2016). Moreover, Mountfort (2016) argues that as an American author, it would be experimental for Dick to set a plot with I Ching. However, he was the first author who centrally, sophisticatedly, and self-reflectively applies oracle-text into novel (Mountfort, 2016). Thus, it is obvious that I Ching played important and dominant role in the novel’s composition.

I Ching has successfully played its role not only in the composition matter but also has successfully become the basis of philosophical background of this novel. For example, Mountfort (2016) describes how hexagram and its philosophy such as Daoism applied in the text and character:

“Tagomi’s result, hexagram 61 Chung Fu / Inner Truth, in turn also anticipates the I Ching’s answer to Juliana’s question about the meaning of The Grasshopper Lies Heavy, the novel-within-a-novel that is paired metafictionally with The Man in the High Castle” (Mountfort, 2016).

As can be seen, the philosophy of I Ching becomes the clue to find the “meaning” of abstract and figurative novel. Moreover, since I Ching is the method of divination which is relevant to fatalism, and fatalism, in terms of alternative history genre, the supposition of US being ruled and suppressed by Nazi and Imperial Japan could be the real historical events if the fate favoured them, not US. Therefore, in fatalistic perspective, The Man in the High Castle could be more attractive and entertaining than those who are not because as I mentioned, this novel considers I Ching as the key philosophical method to handle the situations and overturn the fate.


Alternate history. (n.d.) American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. (2011). Retrieved October 11 2019 from https://www.thefreedictionary.com/alternate+history

Fitzgerald, B. (2016, September 28). Something missing from Amazon’s The Man in the High Castle: the Author, the I-Ching. Retrieved October 12, 2019, from https://medium.com/@brianfit/meta-fiction-a-living-book-and-philip-k-dick-s-man-in-the-high-castle-eac578bdcb09

Mountfort, P. (2016). The I Ching and Philip K. Dick’s The Man in the High Castle. Science Fiction Studies, 43(2), pp.287-309. doi:10.5621/sciefictstud.43.2.0287

Mountfort, P. (2018). Science fiction doubles: Technologization of the doppelganger and sinister science in serial science fiction TV. Journal of Science & Popular Culture, 1(1), pp.59-75. doi:10.1386/jspc.1.1.59_1.

Smith, R. J. (2008). Fathoming the cosmos and ordering the world: the Yijing (I Ching, or Classic of Changes) and its evolution in China. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press. ISBN 0-8139-2705-6.