An experiment at CERN has unintended consequences – a parallel universe is discovered. That universe is just like the one we live in – but things are a little different though. The team behind the discovery realize this is an unparalleled moment in time, and they decide to keep it a secret until they can get more information. They initially start to send drones through the portal – the Parallel Universe Machine – to fly around and explore the ‘other’ version of the area that surrounds the French and Swiss border region. There’s a mostly rural area instead of the hi-tech development which is the CERN of our universe. And there are modern cars but not the brands we know. The city of Geneva has some recognizable older buildings but newer development – everything is similar to our world but different.
In total secrecy, the team sends a drone through to the parallel universe every few days – until an angry farmer shoots it down. Faced with this problem, they decide to send a member of the team through to walk around for twenty-four hours to get an understanding of the people that live there. They get Max Rivette, the senior draftsman on the project, to go through.
Max soon comes across a stand of farm produce on the side of a small local road; it is the local farmer who shot down the drone! The two men have a friendly conversation, but Max answers some questions a little awkwardly, and he eventually sets off to continue exploring the new alternate world. The farmer is very suspicious and reports it to the authorities. They quickly arrest Max.
Max soon discovers the key difference between the two worlds. They both share a common history – but some time around the late 1920s a new series of events marks a distinctly different world. Around about this time, somewhere in Spain, a political, cultural, and social revolution takes place. The ordinary people turn their world upside down by adopting a bottom-up system of governance – which only has twelve rules. The new, somewhat anarchist societal structure quickly spreads throughout Europe, and eventually, most of the world.
But the authorities quiz Max at length about the world he comes from – and they are mortified. The fact that enormous aggressive military power exists and wars break out, costing millions of lives have the peaceful alternate world authorities frightened. They realize Max is not dangerous and has knowledge that can help them with defense from a possible hostility – so they decide that Max must stay for an entire year before they will consider allowing him to return home. Instead of placing him in jail, Max is sent to live and work in the community.
Max discovers what it is like to live in a world where there are only twelve rules. He sees how the fundamentally different this world is, how dramatically the sense of community benefits everyone. Max even falls in love with a beautiful younger woman.
Eventually, and somewhat reluctantly, Max returns after a year to our universe. The CIA is now in charge of the Parallel Universe Machine, and when Max arrives, they soon learn of the new alternate world. Fearing that an anti-capitalist and straightforward political structure works for the common man – the President of the USA orders Max be held in a secret jail.
But ideas are powerful. What happens next is both sad and inspiring.