InterWorld

InterWorld

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InterWorld is a fantasy and science fiction novel by Neil Gaiman and Michael Reaves. The book was published in 2007 by EOS, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers. It follows the story of Joey Harker who, together with a group of other Joeys from different earths in other parallel universes, try to stop the two forces of magic and science from taking over all of the earths in different universes.

Plot summary

Joey Harker is an average high school student living in Greenville who has trouble finding his way around his own house, let alone the town. On a field trip set by his teacher Mr. Dimas, Joey finds himself lost in the city. He enters a strange fog and when he emerges, finds that the town has changed. All the cars are brightly coloured with the police cars flashing green and yellow, instead of blue and red. He goes back home and discovers that he does not exist anymore, instead a girl named Josephine lives there. He runs outside and bumps into a man wearing a mirror mask called Jay. Before Jay can explain anything three men standing on floating silver disks and wearing grey outfits try to catch Joey using silver nets. Joey runs, unintentionally entering the fog again.

Afraid of going back to a home where he doesn't exist, Joey decides to go to Mr. Dimas for help. Mr. Dimas is shocked to see Joey, telling him that he had drowned last year and that Mr. Dimas himself had pulled Joey's body out of the river. Suddenly a woman appears in the room bewitching Joey into following her. She calls herself Lady Indigo and is joined by two other men. One, called Scarabus, has tattoos all over his body which seem to be spells. The other, a man with transparent skin is called Neville. They move Joey to a flying ship, the Lacrimae Mundi.

The ship teleports to Nowhere-at-all, a sort of hyperspace. They are heading towards a place called HEX. Before they can reach there Jay arrives and helps Joey to escape, getting injured in the process. Joey opens a portal to the In-Between, a multidimensional world, where only Walkers and MDLF (multidimensional life forms, or mudluffs) beings can enter. The in-between is a shortcut for traveling from world to world. Joey and Jay exit in-between and arrive at a desert. There Jay explains to Joey how he is part of an organization called InterWorld and their job is to keep the altiverse balanced by stopping the scientific force (Binary) from turning worlds into highly developed robot controlled worlds, while also stopping the magical force (HEX) from making worlds too magical. Jay also says that Joey has the ability to "Walk", or go into the In-Between and other dimensions quickly and effectively.

Then a mudluff which looks like a bubble and communicates using colours appears. Joey approaches it. As Jay walks over a giant serpent appears, biting Jay. The bubble kills the serpent but Jay is already dying. Before he dies he gives Joey the direction to Base town, where InterWorld HQ is. Joey goes to HQ and learns that Walkers are all copies of himself but from different Earths. He begins an intense course of exercise while studying very advanced science and math to prepare him for his new role.

After a few months, Joey and four other Walkers go on a training mission. They are supposed to retrieve some signal beacons in a more scientific earth. But the earth they go to turns out to be a "shadow realm" and is in fact a trap. Everyone in the team except Joey is captured by HEX. When Joey escapes back to HQ, the leader, an old man named Joe, decides that Joey is not capable of working in InterWorld, and wipes Joey's mind of his life in InterWorld. Joey is then returned home. After some time, while blowing bubbles with 'the squid', Joey remembers Hue, the mudluff bubble creature, and everything about the Altiverse comes back to him. With all those memories back, Joey says goodbye to his family, Walks into the Altiverse again, and sets off to save his teammates.

With Jai's words in his head and Hue's help, Joey finds the airship where his teammates are being held, and lands safely on it. However, he is captured as well and taken to meet Lord Dogknife, a large hideous goblin who is the head of HEX. Joey is then taken to the room where his teammates are being held. A large cauldron is in the center of the room, built to capture their souls to power the ship. They are not suprised to see him, as they expected he would come, but there appears to be nothing to do, as everyone is tied up.

Joey manages to move over to the cauldron and knock it over, incinerating some of the guards in the room. He then moves over to untie his friends, who all try to find an exit so they can go to the engine room and shut the ship down. They find an exit and escape to the engine room.

The engine to the ship is being powered by human souls. Joey and his teammates break the jars containing them to shut the ship down. The engine explodes, and Joey and his teammates plan an escape from the Nowhere-At-All. They talk of a gate in the Nowhere-At-All from which they can escape, but it is closing quickly. Joey decides he will not leave without Hue, because Hue saved his life multiple times.

Many soldiers come into the destroyed engine room in an attempt to recapture Joey and his teammates, but they quickly conquer the soldiers. However, Scarabus, an important figure in HEX, moves to fight them. J/O steps up and conquers him as well, and everyone goes to find Lord Dogknife.

Dogknife is in the room where Joey saw him earlier, captured by the souls and thus rendered harmless. Joey finds Hue and escapes with his teammates. They are about to escape when Lady Indigo appears to face them. Joey distracts her from fighting them with some powder in his pocket, and Joey and his teammates escape through the gate when he remembers a mathematical equation that will take him home: {IW}:=Ω/∞.

They return to the Old Man, who does not congratulate them for their heroic work. Instead, he lectures them on all their wrongdoings in the Altiverse. However, he now says Joey is allowed to stay without wiping his memory. The group sets out on their next mission.

Altiverse

This refers to the set of all possible Earths. Whenever consciousness, not to be mixed with ego, has to make an important decision, and doesn't, the universe branches off in a new direction.

The Altiverse is conceptualized as an arc. At one end science reigns, while at the other magic. Our reality lies near the center a bit to the science side. The Altiverse has 3 factions fighting an eternal war. Science's region is mostly dominated by Binary ('01101'b). HEX is the magical cabal that controls the Magical regions. And InterWorld is a little guerilla-like organism that fights to keep the other 2 groups in balance.

Besides parallel worlds the Altiverse has bizarre zones named Nowhere-at-all, Static and In-Between. They serve as the inter-plane bridge. Nowhere-at-all is filled with Magic, while Static doesn't have any. Travelling from world to world takes weeks or days, except through the In-Between. However, only Walkers can go there. The In-Between is also the place where strange multidimensional beings dwell. In any case these zones aren't really understood.

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