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Fictional universe is a made-up universe of fantasy.


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A fictional universe is an imaginary world that serves as the setting or backdrop for one or (more commonly) multiple works of fiction or translatable non-fiction.

fictional universe.
A common method for illustrating fictional universes is for the creator to focus the majority of his or her attention on one small area.

Fictional universe can be argued that every work of fiction generates a world of its own; Robert A. Heinlein coined the Neologism ficton to refer to such a world. A fictional universe is then a ficton that has an existence extending beyond a single story, which becomes the basis either of other stories, or of games or other creations. It generally consists of a time and place that invoke a sense of a distinct world, one which is unique to the content and context of the tales that it is used to tell.

Properties of a fictional universe.

Fictional universes are most common in, but not exclusive to, the science fiction and fantasy genres. Many universes written in one or both of these genres feature physical and metaphysical laws different from our own that allow for magical, psychic and various other types of paranormal phenomena, or the hypothesis may be based in a parallel universe which have some scientific theoretical speculation like multiverse. Although these laws may not be completely internally consistent, they do allow the author to provide some textual explanation for how their imagined world differs from our own.

A common method for illustrating fictional universes is for the creator to focus the majority of his or her attention on one small area, revealing the larger world through hints or exposition. Nineteen Eighty-Four takes place almost entirely in the city of London, but reveals the full extent of its totalitarian world through the reading of Goldstein's banned book and the memories of its protagonists. Most of the television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer is set in a single Californian city, though the larger world, the "Buffyverse", spans the entire world and indeed many separate universes and dimensions. Most of the action in the Harry Potter series occurs in and around a single school, though its Wizarding world comprises an entire distinct global society.

On the other hand, fictional universes can also comprise multitudes of settings, thousands of characters and hundreds of interconnected plots. This is particularly true in media, such as television or comic books, where multiple authors can compose works in the same universe simultaneously. Many fictional universes, such as Star Trek, have actually outlived their creators.

It is difficult to determine what actually constitutes a "fictional universe." Sir Thomas More's Utopia is one of the earliest examples of a cohesive imaginary world with its own rules and functional concepts, but it comprises only one small island. Some, like J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings, are global in scope, and some, like Star Trek and Star Wars are galactic or even intergalactic. A fictional universe may even concern itself with more than one interconnected universe through theoretically viable devices such as "parallel worlds" or universes, and a series of interconnected universes is called a multiverse. Such multiverses have been featured prominently in science fiction since at least the mid-20th century, notably in the classic Star Trek episode, "Mirror, Mirror", which introduced the mirror universe in which the crew of the Starship Enterprise were brutal, rather than civilized, and in the mid-1980s comic book series, Crisis on Infinite Earths, in which countless parallel universes were destroyed. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, when considered as all 5 books together, flits back and forth between different universes, or perhaps it is more accurate to say, flits through different timelines and different dimensions involving different states of existence for the characters and for the earth itself.

Format for a fictional universe.

A fictional universe can be contained in a single work, as in George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four or Aldous Huxley's Brave New World, but nowadays is more common in serialized, series-based, open-ended or round robin-style fiction. A fictional universe may also be called a fictional realm, imaginary realm, fictional world, imaginary world or imaginary universe. Most fictional universes are based directly or indirectly on our own universe. A fictional universe is usually differentiated from the setting of, and the cosmology established by, ancient or modern legends, myths and religions, although there are countless fictional universes that draw upon such sources for inspiration.

In most small-scale fictional universes, general properties and timeline events fit into a consistently organized continuity. However, in the case of universes or universes that are rewritten or revised by different writers, editors or producers, this continuity may be violated, by accident or by design. The use of retroactive continuity (retcon) often occurs due to this kind of revision or oversight. Members of fandom often create a kind of fanmade canon (fanon) to patch up such errors; fanon that becomes generally accepted sometimes becomes actual canon. Other fanmade additions to a universe (fan fiction, pastiche, parody) are usually not considered canonical unless they are authorized.

Collaboration in a fictional universe.

Fictional universes are sometimes shared by multiple authors, with each author's works in that universe being granted approximately equal canonical status. Other universes are created by one or several authors but are intended to be used non-canonically by others, such as the fictional settings for games, particularly role-playing games and video games. Settings for the role-playing game Dungeons & Dragons are called campaign settings; other games have also incorporated this term on occasion. Virtual worlds are fictional worlds in which online computer games, notably MMORPGs and MUDs, take place. A fictional crossover occurs when two or more fictional characters, series or universes cross over with one another, usually in the context of a character created by one author or owned by one company meeting a character created or owned by another. In the case where two fictional universes covering entire actual universes cross over, physical travel from one universe to another may actually occur in the course of the story. Such crossovers are usually, but not always, considered non-canonical by their creators or by those in charge of the properties involved.

References to a fictional universe.

  • Alberto Manguel & Gianni Guadalupi: The Dictionary of Imaginary Places, New York : Harcourt Brace, c2000. ISBN 0-15-100541-9.
  • Brian Stableford: The Dictionary of Science Fiction Places, New York : Wonderland Press, c1999. ISBN 0-684-84958-5.
  • Diana Wynne Jones: The Tough Guide to Fantasyland, New York : Firebird, 2006. ISBN 0-14-240722-4, Explains and parodies the common features of a standard fantasy world.
  • George Ochoa and Jeffery Osier: Writer's Guide to Creating A Science Fiction Universe, Cincinnati, Ohio : Writer's Digest Books, c1993. ISBN 0-89879-536-2.
  • Michael Page and Robert Ingpen : Encyclopedia of Things That Never Were: Creatures, Places, and People, 1987. ISBN 0-14-010008-3.



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