The Art of Dimension Jumping in Fiction

Blink from Marvel

There’s a difference between teleportation and dimension hopping that some people don’t always realize.  The former involves jumping from one location to another in the same world.  The latter is about moving between different worlds.  You can call it dimensional teleportation, which works.  Yet, the two words aren’t interchangeable.  Obviously, I’m here to talk about the more complicated one.

Why is dimension jumping more  of a challenge than regular teleportation?  You have to build a lot for it to work.  If the character is moving between worlds that are identical to each other then there isn’t much of a point.  You need to make slight differences to the worlds in order for it to feel like multiple dimensions.  It could be something minor like a mountain moved to another place or major like it rains worms that are devoured by the hungry grass.  Basically, there has be a clear change for it to be called a different dimension.  This requires building multiple worlds instead of one, which can be daunting for people.  If you have too many then you begin getting desperate and can design a dimension that the audience can’t take seriously.

Another thing about dimension jumping is that you can’t really have it is a ‘power’ that characters use.  It may work in comics where characters simply pass through pocket dimensions, but they always come back to the first world.  If your hero or villain is leaping through dimensions then that’s a major plot point.  Same thing goes for chases that cross time periods.  With that, you’re trying to save the timeline or something connected to the time stream.  When you have dimension jumping, you need to have a threat to all of those worlds or some goal that incorporates the powers.  Perhaps the heroes got lost and want to get back home like in the show ‘Sliders’.  It’s the main goal, which incorporates this big power.

I’ve considered dabbling with dimension jumping in the past and I still might add it to Windemere at one point.  It’s kind of there with the Chaos Void being a side dimension of demons, but I’ve contemplated making a connection to Earth.  At one point, Clyde from War of Nytefall was going to end his series by disappearing from Earth and appearing in Windemere.  Going even further back, I wanted to have the main female characters of my various series team up for an Earth-based team.  This is in high school and I had it that the fantasy character chased a villain through a portal into the superhero world.  These were all tossed for various reasons, but I also had a story where a tear between dimensions draws two Earthlings into Windemere for an adventure.  I’m on the fence about doing this because it can open a lot of issues and can cause people to demand that certain things get added to Windemere.

All that being said, I do have one story that I’m holding onto that involves dimensional jumping.  The northern pole of Windemere is called the Ice Crown, which is a huge circle of ice that even the gods can’t get through.  Inside is an angel who has the power to pull people through dimensional portals and she’s been populating this little world for centuries.  This is because she is all alone and wants friends, but none of the kidnapped stay with her for long.  They always go adventuring or live in one of the cities, which she doesn’t find interesting.  One day, the angel found a world that she wanted to join since she was still lonely after drawing others into her world.  She disappeared and this caused all of the inhabitants to be cursed.  The story is about a group of pirates (people gathered from different dimensions) finding the angel and bringing her back.  Of course, she’s on Earth and just retrieving her isn’t enough, but dimensional jumping is a major part of the story.  Mostly the after-effects when one is dragged out of their world against their will.

So, I haven’t tackled this power yet, but I really want to.  It’s a doozy when you actually analyze it.  What do other people think of stories where the characters leap between dimensions?  Remember that we’re talking other worlds instead of locations.  I don’t know if I’d put time travel under here though.  I guess they can work together because other worlds can be created by changes in the time stream.  A lot of overlap between powers like this, which can help with the world building.

About Charles Yallowitz

Charles E. Yallowitz was born, raised, and educated in New York. Then he spent a few years in Florida, realized his fear of alligators, and moved back to the Empire State. When he isn't working hard on his epic fantasy stories, Charles can be found cooking or going on whatever adventure his son has planned for the day. 'Legends of Windemere' is his first series, but it certainly won't be his last.
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23 Responses to The Art of Dimension Jumping in Fiction

  1. I’m doing time jumps right now. Not sure I could do dimensional jumps. Of course a year ago I didn’t think I could do time jumps so who’s to say. Good discussion, Charles.

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  2. L. Marie says:

    Your story of the angel sounds really compelling! Have you finished it?

    Dimensional jumping is intriguing! I enjoy it in the Doctor Strange stories.

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    • I haven’t even started that story. No time. Most of what I talk about are ideas that are in various stages of planning. Forgot about Doctor Strange and dimensional jumping, but I never saw that movie. The trailers were making me nauseous.

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  3. twixie13 says:

    I’ve actually written something recently that involves travel between different realities that this made me think of. There were portals involved and different variants of a few characters. Not sure if it’ll be published in an anthology or on its own just yet (just waiting on that rejection). But it was a fun challenge.

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    • Cool. Coming up with variations on the same character is always fun. It can be a big challenge too. You need enough to make them familiar, but not so much that they’re a total copy.

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      • twixie13 says:

        Yep. Sometimes it’s just a matter of them dressing somewhat differently, sometimes the species is entirely different, there were two cases of them being the opposite sex…with one character, the best way to figure out differences in his variants may be to look at the piercings.

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      • Does dressing differently really work? I would assume the personality would have to be different as well.

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  4. I’ve danced near this, but never quite gone there. I wrote a time traveler for an anthology about time travel. I have Lanternfish teleporting. I suppose the closest I’ve gotten is The Hat, who is mentioned as a creature from another dimension.

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  5. Reblogged this on adaratrosclair and commented:
    #TalkGeekyToMe This is a great post for science fiction and fantasy authors!

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  6. jomz says:

    Dimensional jumps are indeed complicated. Teleportation is easy – I think of it as moving really, really fast.

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  7. Doctor Who takes an interesting approach, in that they have the Tardis as a constant location while constantly moving around in both time and space. And in Genevieve Cogman’s Library series, there is a magical library that acts as a hub between worlds. In both settings, there’s always some kind of mischief to sort out. Dr. Who tends to wander into it, while Cogman’s characters will be assigned to retrieve books for their library.

    If dimensional transit was a character’s ONLY power, that could be difficult. You can’t always just duck out of problems and return when it’s safe. If they were going to be super-heroes or similar adventurers, they would have to have other skills or equipment for self defense.

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    • I know of one or two comic book characters who are only dimensional hoppers. They’re supporting and used primarily for transport and rescues. It can be an escape though because they don’t have to come back to the same point. You jump, go for a walk, and then pop back since it isn’t a fixed arrival and departure point.

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