Fictional universe

Map of the land of Oz, the fictional realm that is the setting for L. Frank Baum's "Oz" series.

A fictional universe, or fictional world, is a self-consistent setting with events, and often other elements, that differ from the real world. It may also be called an imagined, constructed or fictional realm (or world). Fictional universes may appear in novels, comics, films, television shows, video games, and other creative works.

A fictional universe can be almost indistinguishable from the real world, except for the presence of the invented characters and events that characterize a work of fiction; at the other extreme, it can bear little or no resemblance to the real world, with invented fundamental principles of time and space.

The subject is most commonly addressed in reference to fictional universes that differ markedly from the real world, such as those that introduce entire fictional cities, countries, or even planets, or those that contradict commonly known facts about the world and its history, or those that feature fantasy or science fiction concepts such as magic or faster than light travel—and especially those in which the deliberate development of the setting is a substantial focus of the work.

Definition

The term was first defined by comics historian Don Markstein, in a 1970 article in CAPA-alpha.[1]

Markstein's criteria

  1. If characters A and B have met, then they are in the same universe; if characters B and C have met, then, transitively, A and C are in the same universe.
  2. Characters cannot be connected by real people — otherwise, it could be argued that Superman and the Fantastic Four were in the same universe, as Superman met John F. Kennedy, Kennedy met Neil Armstrong, and Armstrong met the Fantastic Four.
  3. Characters cannot be connected by characters "that do not originate with the publisher" — otherwise it could be argued that Superman and the Fantastic Four were in the same universe, as both met Hercules.
  4. Specific fictionalized versions of real people — for instance, the version of Jerry Lewis from DC Comics' The Adventures of Jerry Lewis, who was distinct from the real Jerry Lewis in that he had a housekeeper with magical powers — can be used as connections; this also applies to specific versions of public-domain fictional characters, such as Marvel Comics' version of Hercules or DC Comics' version of Robin Hood.
  5. Characters are only considered to have met if they appeared together in a story; therefore, characters who simply appeared on the same front cover are not necessarily in the same universe.
Other Languages
العربية: عالم خيالي
беларуская: Выдуманы сусвет
čeština: Fikční svět
Esperanto: Fikcia universo
français: Monde imaginaire
Bahasa Indonesia: Dunia fiksi
íslenska: Söguheimur
Nederlands: Fictief universum
日本語: 架空世界
Simple English: Fictional universe
slovenščina: Izmišljeno vesolje
Türkçe: Kurgusal evren
українська: Вигаданий всесвіт
中文: 虛構世界