There was this science fiction book that I read when I was a teenager. I thought it was in my dad’s book collection, but I haven’t been able to find it and I can’t remember the title or author. It was a pretty good story, or at least I remember it being a pretty good story, anyway, and I would like to reread it.

In the story, there was a secret group that had developed technology for travelling between parallel universes. In the multi-verse of the story, there were a great many time lines with alternate US histories and in particular differences in who signed historic documents – I think the Declaration of Independence was the main one, though it could have been the constitution. If I recall the story correctly, there were collectors who trafficked in rare alternate versions of these documents (our version was quite commonplace).

I remember one scene (the first chapter?) in which a historian who specialized in the document in question was visiting the National Archives and reading through it and fainted when he got to the signatures. Someone had substituted a rare version of the document for the actual one from our universe.

Can someone identify the title and author of this story?

Throughout science fiction and fantasy fandom, there are questions like this. What was the meaning of one part of a certain book. What is the science behind some event. Every story or franchise inspires people to ask questions like these. We want stuff explained. We want to understand.

And now there is a place to go where we can ask these questions. The folks who created the programmer support community Stack Overflow have created other sites devoted to a wide range of interests, and one of those sites is for fans of science fiction and fantasy.

So go, ask your questions. Answer some questions. Break the denizens out of their Doctor Who inspired stupor.

And now they’ve sweetened the pot with a “Topic of the Week” contest. With actual prizes that have real value. (Details can be found on the sci-fi meta site.)