Every time I begin to write about this topic, I end up going off on a long tangent at first as I attempt to define, give examples, and then describe in detail how it applies to my writing. Seems appropriate, somehow.

A is for alternate universes.

I could go on nearly forever about the various kinds of alternate universes in fiction; I could discuss a bit of the physics/metaphysics behind the idea. Or I could skip all that stuff and go directly to talking about how alternate universes figure in what I write, or help my twin write. Just, y’know, in the interest of not making this blog post a few thousand words long…

The basic concept of alternate universes is essential to much of what I and my twin write, partly because we’ve crossed our story settings over and over again; characters from one setting will appear, in a larger or smaller role, in another story, or another series (the choreographing of which is both easier and harder than it sounds), and this all happens because, from the very beginning, a few of those characters had the means to travel “sideways” to universes beyond their own.  People like that don’t stay home.  🙂

Just to give a small sample of that crossover of characters between fictional universes: A couple of major secondary characters in Project Brimstone (a more-or-less contemporary sci-fi novel) are mentioned briefly in The Fallen (sci-fi, far-future), and one of them is a secondary character in Changing Magic (a fantasy novel — at least superficially). One of the central characters from The Excalibur Mission (sci-fi, near-ish-future) has a supporting role in The Madness Engine (the novel that comes after The Fallen — currently a WiP). Three series, three “home universes” for the characters in them — none of which is our universe, exactly. Another major character in The Excalibur Mission is originally from the world of Changing Magic. The ways in which all this crossover occurred are as varied as the settings and the characters themselves. One character traveled somewhere else through a portal. One is a natural world-walker, to use a generic term. One was pulled out of his home universe by a stranger, and later uses a techno-thing to travel even more, and another just started hanging out with the wrong people, one of whom is also a natural world-walker.

What about you, O Readers of my blog? Do you have any favorite fiction set in an alternate universe? Do you prefer stories set in places wildly different from our own (universes where the very laws of physics are different), or do you like subtle changes (such as urban fantasy where magical happenings are minor and hidden from the normal population)? Do you like stories in which characters from the real world travel Somewhere Else, or ones that have no connection to our universe at all?  Do you write any alternate-universe fiction yourself?  Please share your thoughts.


About Thomas Weaver

For several years, I’ve been putting my uncanny knack for grammar and punctuation, along with an eclectic mental collection of facts, to good use as a Wielder of the Red Pen of Doom (editor). I'm physically disabled, and I currently live with my smugly good-looking twin Paul, who writes military science fiction and refuses to talk about his military service because he can’t. Sometimes Paul and I collaborate on stories, and sometimes I just edit whatever he writes. It's worked out rather well so far. My list of non-writing-related jobs from the past includes librarian, art model, high school teacher, science lab gofer… Although I have no spouse or offspring to tell you about, I do have eight cats. I currently spend my time blogging, reading, editing, and fending off cats who like my desk better than my twin’s.
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8 Responses to A

  1. SirZac says:

    I have been really getting into Urban Fantasy settings lately. Iron Druid and the Dresden Files being some of my favorite. The juxtaposition of the fantastical with the mundane is very entertaining, if done well.


    • I don’t know Iron Druid, but I love The Dresden Files. (Have to wait until May for the next one… *sigh*) Some of my other favorite urban fantasy stories are War for the Oaks, and Charles de Lint’s various Newford stories. And I agree — it’s the juxtaposition of the magical and the mundane that makes such fiction so interesting.


  2. Alex Hurst says:

    I really adored the alternate universe of Jim C. Hines’s “Libriomancer”. It’s got all kinds of Easter eggs, and the magic system is really cool. 🙂

    Thanks for visiting my blog!

    Alex Hurst, fantasy author in Japan, participating in Blogging A-Z April Challenge.


  3. Angela Brown says:

    As a lover of fantasy and sci-fi in general, I’m game for all of it. I’m currently working on a near-futurish urban fantasy/dystopia that includes what I refer to as an Innerverse for creatures that cross to and from their own locations.

    Great topic!


  4. I like looking for the subtle changes of urban fantasy. It isn’t a book, but I think the television show, Fringe, had a really good alternate universe story.
    Stopping by from the A to Z Challenge.


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