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.