Someone mentioned the idea of crossover-style stories in a comment and this is not exactly about that, but it’s related: how connected are the universes my novels take place in?
First off, what universes are we talking about:
- Thaumatology: This world came first, so it’s first in the list. A fantasy reality with a modern, alternate history setting. Magic exists, and demons and fae, and there are at least three connected dimensions with travel between them. The setting does take a view that magic can be explained through science: humans (the protagonist for example) have created a branch of physics called thaumatology to study it. However, the Thaumatology Earth was fairly magic-free before 1945.
- Aneka Jansen: Starting out with a relatively hard science basis, Aneka’s universe has progressed to more and more “magic science.” I could do an entire article on what I consider “magic science” to be, but when Aneka kicked off the only real super-science elements were FTL (travel and comms) and gravity manipulation. Over the course of time we’ve had force fields and wormholes work their way in.
- Ultrahumans: A superhero reality where a mysterious “cosmic power” gives some people the ability to do amazing things.
- Unobtainium: A steam/retropunk world where the “Miracle Metal” Unobtainium has been discovered and has forged a surge in technological development which did not happen in our world. In the 1920s they have near-indestructible warships, super airships, powered exoskeletons, and nuclear reactors.
- Reality Hack: You haven’t seen this one yet and I won’t spoil too much yet, but this is an urban fantasy setting with a twist, and a system of magic which involves, well, hacking reality.
- Fox Hunt: (You heard it here first folks!) The book to follow Reality Hack is currently called Fox Hunt and the setting for it is a near-future, hard-science one. It’s bright cyberpunk: the world has its cruddy, dark side, to be sure, but it’s not a typical near-future dystopia either. So, science, no magic, and that’s all you’re getting for now.
So, do I put all my worlds in one, overarching cosmos? Could Ceri Brent take a step sideways and visit Aneka? Well, let’s put that one to bed first: no because there’s one thing I don’t like and that’s time travel, and Aneka’s world is a thousand years after Ceri’s as well as being a dimension away. Aside from the possibility of comedy short stories, Ceri and Aneka are not going to meet. (And can you imagine it? Ella and Lily would vanish into a bedroom and never be heard from again. No. Just no.)
On the other hand, there is a little hint in Steel Beneath the Skin that Aneka’s world is part of the same cosmology as the Thaumatology books. It’s subtle and I always wondered whether anyone ever noticed it, but it is there. (And no, I won’t say what it is, because I’m evil.) In truth I’ve never really come to a solid decision about whether the Ultrahumans cosmic power and Unobtainium are explained via the same processes as Thaumatology’s magic, but I could certainly make an argument for it.
Reality Hack is a very special case and is definitely not governed by the same rules as the other worlds. You’ll get more on the reason for that (assuming you haven’t guessed) in the next few days as I ramp up to its release. Fox Hunt’s setting is the same, but for different reasons: it’s a hard-science setting so you are not going to see the kind of fantastic stuff which exists in the other books. Fox Hunt is about technology as it might progress in our world, plus the usual kickass heroine, no need for magic.
So, a lot of my stuff probably exists within the same cosmological reality with the same fundamental laws of physics modified by conditions within a particular universe. (If you want to know how the magic works, you need to go read some of Ceri and Cheryl’s papers on thauminos and the Super-Magic Field. They’re a bit heavy on the maths though.) It’s theoretically possible to have some of the characters wander from one storyline to the other. Outside of non-canonical short stories done mainly for comedy, however, don’t expect to see it from me. The worlds I make are separate for a reason and they’ll be staying that way.