These pages are here to describe how my fictional universe fits together. If backstory and mythology are not your things, I suggest you read this instead.
In my about Matthew page, I said that all my long-form fiction fits together but it is complicated. This is the explanation. Also, because I am such a big geek, I will probably turn this into something of an online encyclopedia of my imaginary things.
This is your last chance to stop and read the fiction itself.
The threads that pull it all together
To understand the way this all works you need to be comfortable talk about the many worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics because I just went ahead and assumed it was all true. This has some crazy implications that I largely ignore. The one time I do not ignore them is the story with the cat in it or (to give it the original working title) Dimensions and Parallel Universes with Jack. Jack, it turns out, is sort of important.
Almost all my stories take place in one single instance of the multiverse. At least, everything written from 2011 onwards does, anyway. How multiple and contradictory worlds all fit into one universe is the most interesting part.
The prime universe may well be our world. Unfortunately, your brain is ill-equipped to witness such events and so you totally fail to notice.
The only stories that are not always part of this reality are shorts (which are frequently set in independent indeterminate locations that may or may not be this prime universe) and anything where the world ends (Vampire plague, a killer virus, that sort of thing).
Secret Worlds: Overview
This is where things get complicated, so hold on. The world is made up of many different bits all folded in on itself like a screwed up sheet of paper. Doc tried to explain this to Jack in one of the chapters of this story. It sounded pretty crazy. So, think about it like this. We’ve all read stories where the hero discovers some hidden world not known to the normals, muggles, mundanes, neutrals, straights, normies, or vanillas. Basically, anyone not in on the Masquerade. Almost every story makes the mistake of assuming that theirs is the only hidden world.
This is not true.
There is a multitude of these hidden worlds. They exist on a 10-dimensional spectrum of discrete and overlapping worlds known as the phase space. The space that encompasses any given “secret world” is known as a shift in the phase space. For added complexity, some cultures refer to this by other names. Do not expect consistency from my characters – they are mostly not terribly well informed about my plans.
Any shift too far removed from the common or mundane shift is invisible to those who are not a part of it. There are only two ways to become a part of a shift – be born into it or get dragged in by circumstances (or inconsiderate friends) just long enough to develop a degree of sensitivity to it.
Most creatures are sensitive to at most one shift beyond the mundane but a tiny minority can access more than one. The whole plot of The Reluctant Wizard was that the protagonist may just be able to access them all. That was so I could go on a tour of weirdness and switch genres as often as I liked.
These secret worlds include:
- The Wizard World
- The High Science World
- The Druid World(s)
- The Fay
- The Pseudo-Mechanical (just think steampunk)
- A shift with no name because it is really new…
- and so on
Doc would scream at me that they are not “other dimensions” (because they are not) but there are, folded into each reality other layers which almost all the other characters just go ahead and call dimensions.
There is an infinite number of these other spaces. It is safe to say that reality is really flippin’ big and there are plenty of places for interesting stories to take place.
If you are still with me after all that, and if it all kind of made sense to you, then you are my kind of crazy and we can be friends.
If a single reality that is so big and complex that all sorts of crazy stuff can be simultaneously true and not true (like a certain cat) is not enough space for you, there are also other realities too.
Just a few stories take place in entirely different realities. That story with Jack and the cat is one of those. Although I make no effort to explain this properly at any time (because it was not funny) Doc and Jack are fooling about in several variants of the High Science phases.
And (spoiler alert) The Last Boy is purposely set in a different universe as well. Not that you can read The Last Boy as it is still only a draft (as of Feburary 2018).
The many Jacks theory
In every world, there is a Jack or a Jackson or a Jackie or some variant thereof. Most of the time his last name is Dent or Denton or something similar. They have their own pan reality club-house which well, let us just say Gaiman and Reaves had the same idea and published it before me. So I’m probably not going to write that story. You should read Interworld though as it is really good and should be made into a TV series.
In each world, with a Jack, one of two things happens. Either Jack lives out a fairly average life and nothing much happens in that world or Jack encounters a phase-shift and all hell breaks loose. In one particularly unlucky world, everyone became vampires. In another, he met Doc. In a lot of them he met Doc. Jack and Doc, I have discovered tend to be drawn to each other.
When you read my stuff you should play spot the Jackson Dent.
Odds and ends
Where does legend fit into all this?
Legend is just that, a legend. It is a story that is known in some parts of the prime universe. The clue is in the name.
Anthology of Madness
What about the shorts in Anthology of Madness? What a fantastic question, I am glad you were paying attention. That is a collection of short scary stories and ideas. Given the vastness of the phase-space, multiple realities, and all that… Well, they do fit in somewhere, that is for sure.