I like finally realised what the Stablehand Aether and Aluma are like after the longest time
It’s like a phylogenetic tree
The thing is like, time in the Aether is measured in “alterations” which are changes to the “code” of the universe, as represented in “hex editor” format with gibberish strings in Aiyalam’s spinning notebook?
That’s pretty much exactly like DNA mutations. Measuring “alterations” is basically the same exact thing—minus the fact the Aether doesn’t have actual “time” to compare with it—as measuring the time between divergence of species by looking at the background rate of neutral mutations and how many such mutations occurred between the two species
So every different timeline in Aluma is like a branch on a phylogenetic tree. Some of them birth new timelines, some of them don’t and just go on like they are forever, and in that way become like individuals that die without reproducing. In each timeline things get erased and new things arrive because the code is changed by “mutation”.
In this way each of the four bosses could have “selective influences” on different branches of the Aluma time tree and create different kinds of timelines in it. Stolen Heart might be the cause of the technofuture, Arkturuse the cause of some weird romantic age of heroes, Aiyalam the cause of some creepily weird ones, and I don’t even know what Dark Teapot would be going for. Probably the most universe-mechanics-elucidating timelines so they can put more stuff in their guidebook.
The difference between the Aether and Aluma is Aluma actually has time so none of the time tree branches interfere with each other. In the Aether, locales branch out from other locales at each “alteration” of a locale, but the boss HQs and basically any agentic being isn’t subject to the whole tree thing, because they can move between branches of the tree and so are detached from it. Aluma being a self-contained pocket kinda goes hand in hand with it being an experiment where the bosses can mess with the tree and create new branches, though I still couldn’t tell you the causality of Aluma’s creation.