Monday, August 13, 2012

Fictional universes of different structure

These will overlap with religious views but don't take offence at the label of fictional. The observable universe so far is one thing but what we believe or used to believe is still of importance to our lives and cultures. The story of our understanding of the universe is incredibly interesting and this is partially the result of our collective thoughts over thousands of years.

The universes noted below are those that can be freely chosen for writing a text, although they are more likely to be chosen for fantasy, science fiction, romance, paranormal and horror texts than any other sort. 

The flat world in an unobserved universe
This world in the be all and end all of existence and the universe surrounding it almost like a painting or kaleidoscope in importance. The revolutionaries of this world will take note of the as yet unobserved universe but most will simply be enchanted by the sight of it only. Otherwise, life revolves around daily events and the importance of things with immediate consequences (few will be thinking in terms of centuries or global events). The universe may be extremely limited but it does offer an opportunity for its inhabitants to be greatly shocked by an encounter with something other from another part of the universe, being it a living being or otherwise. Also, this universe offers an opportunity to focus intensely upon the minute events and reactions and build them up as representatives of greater events in reality. 

The three-four layer universe where navigation is based on life, death and your actions
Commonly referred to as Heaven, Earth, Purgatory (often left out nowadays) and Hell. For the purposes of fiction this universe is often restricted in the living world to just Earth and extended in the death-based worlds to overlapping or layered eternities. This universe structure contains beings of non-human origin and great power who often control, enslave, manipulate, ignore or care for humans. On top of that, there are some stereotypical experiences the dead will have to go through although these experiences can be manipulated in fiction or written out entirely. Common mode of travel is a portal like transfer, either a white one or a fiery one. The most uncommon mode of travel is to Purgatory and is often explained as a fading from existence as going to Purgatory is essentially to become lost to the world and the other destination. This universe is useful for moralistic stories and for the inclusion of certain types of monsters and creatures.

The land of the gods and the land of mortals
The universe is made and controlled by gods of various natures who represent in some way traits of the living. Given this relationship, it is odd but the gods are responsible for who making the living, and usually the head god or first set of gods. Creation of the living could be a whim of a god, a display of power, a result of some manipulation of reality for another cause (happy accident), the result of a battle between gods or the natural result of the right number of gods popping into existence or being born of the original gods. In this respect, the living aren't always the only ones reflected in the gods but also the universe. If this is the case then there will be gods for night and day or light and darkness, for birth and death and even possibly the void. This universe offers the opportunity to show distorted or clear reflections of the living and the universe through the characterisation of the gods and their relationships with each other. These reflections can be pointed and hint at the political or philosophical if desired. Also, as there are gods and often monsters included in the land of the gods there is an opportunity to have this universal structure overlay the three-four layer universe.

The single observable universe
Science rules this universe and by that I mean the science of the day or the aspects of current science understandable to the layman. There is no world after death that the characters may go to as such places have not be scientifically observed. Due to this the universe is both infinite and flat at once. This universe structure offers the opportunity to write hard-core scientific or speculative fiction that forces the reader to face reality head on. You can write rather harsh texts or you can create beautiful and intricate worlds within your universe, as long as the base information and scientific principles used are possible or plausible within the real world.

The pinhead universe or universe within universes
This universe structure is often hard to write but rather easy to illustrate. The world as known by the characters is in essence a single atom, particle, slice, bubble, sliver or whatnot of a larger universe which in turn could be of similar importance to an even larger universe. The point of this is to indicate just how minute and trivial the character's existence is. Conversely, for anyone who understands the nature of the real universe, pointing out that our existence is tiny will not necessarily lead to them believing their existence is trivial as subatomic particles and the chaos associated with them are absolutely necessary to not just our existence but the universe's. Small stuff is both important and trivial at once and these ideas can be played with endlessly using the pinhead or universe within universes model.

The multiverse
The multiverse structure is normally created through layering single observable universes next to each other but occasionally they are written to cross, to include voids in-between, to be created at a fixed point within a single universe due to time travel (picture this as a tree from the trunk up). The universe within universes is similar but in this instance the multiverse could be viewed as bubbles within bubbles rather than crossed or parallel plains of existence. The multiverse offers the opportunity to add the scientific universe to the mythological universe so that gods, monsters, Heaven, Hell, Purgatory can be. Time travel can also be written as skipping across universes while there is also an option of discovering what would have happened if a particular event had occurred (commonly called parallel universes which if stacked closely looks similar to the time travel tree but the differences are to do with possibilities and probabilities rather than time differences). The multiverse offers open ended writing and endless opportunities to explore something different.

The stable observable universe enclosed by the chaotic unobserved universe
This universe structure bears some relation to the flat world in an unobserved universe structure simply because the unobserved is unknown. The differences are that the observed universe usually includes a scientifically curious and technologically advanced civilisation concerned with the big issues while the unobserved holds the unknown. This means the unknown can hold a benevolent or malevolent entity, living or otherwise, that will soon make its presence known. Even if it refuses to be observed the consequences of its actions could be. The unobservable universe encapsulating the observed offers the opportunity to write a claustrophobic atmosphere in a work including an expansive and/or infinite universe. This alone sets the stable observable universe enclosed by the chaotic unobserved universe as rather unique in fiction.

The rewritable universe
Time travel is possible and by travelling through time you can create new time lines and thereby new worlds (as long as you do something specific in your travels). This universe structure offers a lot of play but is usually science based, meaning there is little to no room for active gods and devils. Monsters, however, can easily be translated into aliens while gods and devils can become computers, extremely powerful aliens, black holes, stars or planets (or any combination thereof).

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