Shared Universes

Sometimes I wonder if very different stories might inhabit the same shared universe. It’s stylish now to pontificate about the wonders of a “Whedon-verse,” where all the films of Joss Whedon happen in the same fictional universe, or ditto for the movies of some other director, or the books of some writer…but what about different kinds of stories, ones that have nothing at all in common? Just imagine them happening at various times and places in the same world–no crossover, just independent living.

Bambi and A Walk to Remember and Blade Runner could all exist in the same world, in that chronological order–the talking animal fantasy could occur, and then decades later the romantic tragedy, and then decades later that same world could be a science-fiction dystopia. Why not? Or The Evil Dead and Fatal Attraction and Honey I Shrunk The Kids at more or less the same time. The world’s a great big crazy place.

Of course, not all universes are compatible. You can’t have a global apocalypse coexisting with a fluffy rom-com. No War of the Worlds happening with The 40-Year-Old Virgin in the same 2005. It’s not reasonable to suppose that the latter happened without any reference to the former, if they were occurring together.

Star Wars would be just fine paired with almost anything. Whether “a long time ago” refers to the time of Braveheart or to the time of Spartacus or to the time of The Flintstones, Earth could have gone about its merry little way as the Rebellion stood up to the Empire in a galaxy far, far away.

Try to challenge your imagination and figure out the most extreme set of seemingly disparate stories that could actually inhabit the same fictional universe. They’re incongruous, but not mutually exclusive. What do you come up with?

 

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