These " lost world " stories can be seen as geographic equivalents of a "parallel universe", as the worlds portrayed are separate from our own, and hidden to everyone except those who take the difficult journey there. The geographic "lost world" can blur into a more explicit "parallel universe" when the fantasy realm overlaps a section of the "real" world, but is much larger inside than out, as in Robert Holdstock 's novel Mythago Wood.
However, increasing geographical knowledge meant that such locations had to be farther and farther off. In some cases, physical travel is not even possible, and the character in our reality travels in a dream or some other altered state of consciousness. Examples include the Dream Cycle stories by H. Lovecraft or the Thomas Covenant stories of Stephen R. Often, stories of this type have as a major theme the nature of reality itself, questioning whether the dream-world is as real as the waking world. Science fiction often employs this theme in the ideas of cyberspace and virtual reality.
As mentioned above, in many stories the parallel universe mold is simply transport a character from the real world into the fantasy world where the bulk of the action takes place. Whatever method is used ceases to be important for the most of the story until the ending until the protagonists return to our world assuming they do so.
However, in a few cases the interaction between the worlds is an important element, so that the focus is not on simply the fantasy world, but on ours as well. Sometimes the intent is to let them mingle and see what would happen, such as introducing a computer programmer into a high fantasy world as seen in Rick Cook 's Wizardry series, while other times an attempt to keep them from mingling becomes a major plot point, such as in Aaron Allston 's Doc Sidhe our "grim world" is paralleled by a "fair world" where the elves live and history echoes ours, where a major portion of the plot deals with preventing a change in interactions between the worlds.
The idea of a multiverse is as fertile a subject for fantasy as it is for science fiction, allowing for epic settings and godlike protagonists. The most epic and far-ranging fantasy "multiverse" is that of Michael Moorcock , who actually named the concept in a science fiction novel The Sundered Worlds.
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Like many authors after him, Moorcock was inspired by the many worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics , saying:. Unlike many science-fiction interpretations, Moorcock's Eternal Champion stories go far beyond alternative history to include mythic and sword and sorcery settings as well as worlds more similar to, or the same as, our own.
The term 'polycosmos' was coined as an alternative to 'multiverse' by the author and editor Paul le Page Barnett also known by the pseudonym John Grant , and is built from Greek rather than Latin morphemes. It is used by Barnett to describe a concept binding together a number of his works, its nature meaning that "all characters, real or fictional [ There are many examples of the meta-fictional idea of having the author's created universe or any author's universe rise to the same level of "reality" as the universe we're familiar with.
The theme is present in works as diverse as H. Fletcher Pratt and L. Sprague de Camp took the protagonist of the Harold Shea series through the worlds of Norse myth, Edmund Spenser 's The Faerie Queene , Ludovico Ariosto 's Orlando Furioso , and the Kalevala  — without ever quite settling whether writers created these parallel worlds by writing these works, or received impressions from the worlds and wrote them down.
In an interlude set in " Xanadu ", a character claims that the universe is dangerous because the poem went unfinished, but whether this was his misapprehension or not is not established. Some fictional approaches definitively establish the independence of the parallel world, sometimes by having the world differ from the book's account; other approaches have works of fiction create and affect the parallel world: L.
Sprague de Camp 's Solomon's Stone , taking place on an astral plane, is populated by the daydreams of mundane people, and in Rebecca Lickiss 's Eccentric Circles , an elf is grateful to Tolkien for transforming elves from dainty little creatures. These stories often place the author, or authors in general, in the same position as Zelazny's characters in Amber.
Questioning, in a literal fashion, if writing is an act of creating a new world, or an act of discovery of a pre-existing world. Occasionally, this approach becomes self-referential, treating the literary universe of the work itself as explicitly parallel to the universe where the work was created. Stephen King 's seven-volume Dark Tower series hinges upon the existence of multiple parallel worlds, many of which are King's own literary creations.
Ultimately the characters become aware that they are only "real" in King's literary universe this can be debated as an example of breaking the fourth wall , and even travel to a world — twice — in which again, within the novel they meet Stephen King and alter events in the real Stephen King's world outside of the books.
An early instance of this was in works by Gardner Fox for DC Comics in the s, in which characters from the Golden Age which was supposed to be a series of comic books within the DC Comics universe would cross over into the main DC Comics universe. One comic book did provide an explanation for a fictional universe existing as a parallel universe. The parallel world does "exist" and it resonates into the "real world".
Some people in the "real world" pick up on this resonance, gaining information about the parallel world which they then use to write stories. Robert Heinlein , in The Number of the Beast , quantizes the many parallel fictional universes - in terms of fictons. A number of fictional universes are accessible along one of the three axes of time which Dr.
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Jacob Burroughs' "time twister" can access. Each quantum level change - a ficton - along this time axis corresponds to a different universe from one of several bodies of fiction known to all four travellers in the inter-universal, time travelling vehicle Gay Deceiver. Heinlein also " breaks the fourth wall " by having "both Heinleins" Robert and his wife Virginia visit an inter-universal science-fiction and fantasy convention in the book's last chapter.
The convention was convened on Heinlein character Lazarus Long 's estate on the planet "Tertius" to attract the evil "Black Hats" who pursued the main characters of The Number of the Beast through space and time in order to destroy Dr. Burroughs and his invention. Heinlein continues this literary conceit in The Cat Who Walks Through Walls and To Sail Beyond the Sunset , using characters from throughout his science-fictional career, hauled forth from their own "fictons" to unite in the war against the "Black Hats".
Heinlein also wrote a stand-alone novel, Job: A Comedy of Justice , whose two protagonists fall from alternative universe into alternative universe often naked , and after a number of such adventures die and enter a stereotypically Fundamentalist Christian Heaven with many of its internal contradictions explored in the novel. Their harrowing adventures through the universes are then revealed to have been "destruction testing" of their souls by Loki , sanctioned by the Creator person of the Christian God Yahweh. The Devil appears as the most sympathetic of the gods in the story, who expresses contempt for the other gods' cavalier treatment of the story's main characters.
Thus, Job: A Comedy of Justice rings in the theological dimension if only for the purpose of satirizing evangelical Christianity of parallel universes, that their existence can be used by God or a number of gods, Loki seems to have made himself available to do Yahweh's dirty work in this novel. Elfland , or Faerie, the otherworldly home not only of elves and fairies but goblins , trolls , and other folkloric creatures, has an ambiguous appearance in folklore.
On one hand, the land often appears to be contiguous with 'ordinary' land. Thomas the Rhymer might, on being taken by the Queen of Faerie, be taken on a road like one leading to Heaven or Hell. This is not exclusive to English or French folklore. In the sagas, it said that the people of this petty kingdom were more beautiful than other people, as they were related to the elves , showing that not only the territory was associated with elves, but also the race of its people.
While sometimes folklore seems to show fairy intrusion into human lands — " Tam Lin " does not show any otherworldly aspects about the land in which the confrontation takes place — at other times the otherworldly aspects are clear. Fantasy writers have taken up the ambiguity. Some writers depict the land of the elves as a full-blown parallel universe, with portals the only entry — as in Josepha Sherman 's Prince of the Sidhe series or Esther Friesner 's Elf Defense — and others have depicted it as the next land over, possibly difficult to reach for magical reasons — Hope Mirrlees 's Lud-in-the-Mist , or Lord Dunsany 's The King of Elfland's Daughter.
In some cases, the boundary between Elfland and more ordinary lands is not fixed. Not only the inhabitants but Faerie itself can pour into more mundane regions. Terry Pratchett 's Discworld series proposes that the world of the Elves is a "parasite" universe, that drifts between and latches onto others such as Discworld and our own world referred to as "Roundworld" in the novels.
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In the young teenage book Mist by Kathryn James , the Elven world lies through a patch of mist in the woods. It was constructed when the Elven were thrown out of our world. Travel to and fro is possible by those in the know, but can have lethal consequences. Isekai , is a subgenre of Japanese fantasy light novels, manga, anime, and video games revolving around a normal person being transported to or trapped in a parallel universe.
Often, this universe already exists in the protagonist's world as a fictional universe, but it may also be unbeknownst to them. The most famous treatment of the alternative universe concept in film could be considered The Wizard of Oz , which portrays a parallel world, famously separating the magical realm of the Land of Oz from the mundane world by filming it in Technicolor while filming the scenes set in Kansas in sepia.
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At times, alternative universes have been featured in small scale independent productions such as Kevin Brownlow and Andrew Mollo's It Happened Here , featuring an alternative United Kingdom which had undergone Operation Sea Lion in and had been defeated and occupied by Nazi Germany. It focused on moral questions related to the professional ethics of Pauline, a nurse forced into Nazi collaboration. Another common use of the theme is as a prison for villains or demons. The idea is used in the first two Superman movies starring Christopher Reeve where Kryptonian villains were sentenced to the Phantom Zone from where they eventually escaped.
An almost exactly parallel use of the idea is presented in the campy cult film The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension , where the "8th dimension" is essentially a "phantom zone" used to imprison the villainous Red Lectroids. Uses in horror films include the film From Beyond based on the H. Lovecraft story of the same name where a scientific experiment induces the experimenters to perceive aliens from a parallel universe, with bad results.
The John Carpenter film Prince of Darkness is based on the premise that the essence of a being described as Satan , trapped in a glass canister and found in an abandoned church in Los Angeles , is actually an alien being that is the 'son' of something even more evil and powerful, trapped in another universe. The protagonists accidentally free the creature, who then attempts to release his "father" by reaching in through a mirror. Some films present parallel realities that are actually different contrasting versions of the narrative itself. Commonly this motif is presented as different points of view revolving around a central but sometimes unknowable "truth", the seminal example being Akira Kurosawa 's Rashomon.
Conversely, often in film noir and crime dramas , the alternative narrative is a fiction created by a central character, intentionally — as in The Usual Suspects — or unintentionally — as in Angel Heart. Less often, the alternative narratives are given equal weight in the story, making them truly alternative universes, such as in the German film Run Lola Run , the short-lived British West End musical Our House and the British film Sliding Doors. More recent films that have explicitly explored parallel universes are: the film The Family Man , the cult movie Donnie Darko , which deals with what it terms a "tangent universe" that erupts from our own universe; Super Mario Bros.
The current Star Trek films are set in an alternative universe created by the first film's villain traveling back in time, thus allowing the franchise to be rebooted without affecting the continuity of any other Star Trek film or show. The science-fiction thriller Source Code employs the concepts of quantum reality and parallel universes. The characters in The Cloverfield Paradox , the third installment of the franchise , accidentally create a ripple in the time-space continuum and travel into an alternative universe, where the monster and the events in the first film transpired.
The idea of parallel universes have received treatment in a number of television series, usually as a single story or episode in a more general science fiction or fantasy storyline. Sometimes a television series will use parallel universes as an ongoing subplot.
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Star Trek: Deep Space Nine , Star Trek: Enterprise and Star Trek: Discovery elaborated on the premise of the original series' "Mirror" universe and developed multi-episode story arcs based on the premise. Clark eventually becomes Superman, with help from the "original" Lois Lane, but he is immediately revealed as Clark Kent and so has no life of his own. In addition to following Star Trek's lead, showing the "evil" variants of the main storyline gives the writers an opportunity to show what is at stake by portraying the worst that could happen and the consequences if the protagonists fail or the importance of a character's presence.
Once Upon a Time often talks about alternative realms or universes in which all different forms of magic, and non-magic may occur, depending on the realm. According to the Mad Hatter Sebastian Stan , they "touch each other in a long line of lands, each just as real as the last". They ignored the papers and walked into a big room where there were about 50 models.
In her mids, Braden was one of the oldest women there. They found the party odd. There was no DJ, no food, and no bartender — though there were drinks, Braden remembers.
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Very unusual. And then down this large staircase, in front of all of us, there was Donald Trump and behind him there were three actors, 40s, maybe 50s. Braden said she had been in the industry long enough to understand what was happening. We were just pieces of meat. Not here.
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Braden believed that this party had been set up specifically for Trump and the three actors.