First, there was the ideascape, full of things-to-come, but not coalesced into existence. Then came The One. Or rather, one of his Alter Egos, The Genie. The One, as anybody knows, has no control over its transformations. But the ultras it has become (The One is a genderless alien being) can be very powerful. The Genie was one of those. Granted the powers to fulfil three wishes to a pure-hearted person, The Genie was battling Ultiman when, in saving a crippled African-descendant girl, he listened to her plaintive request: "I wish we could live in a city where everyone could have any kind of skin, eye colour, hair colour... I wish we could live Elsewhere, where human beings could live regardless of what they look like... Wouldn't it be nice to live in a city like this, Mr. Genie? A place where we could have all the architectonics a human mind could conceive, in neighbourhoods full of different and interesting people..." What a Genie could do but to comply? On a whim, just seconds before his Alter Ego could vanish to the Void of Beings (where all The One's Alter Egos end), there it was: Elsewhere.
Elsewhere is a melting pot of the humanoid metaverse, where Egyptian-like pyramids rise beside a thick urban jungle of alien skyscrapers and elevated highways that mesh to form a three-dimensional concrete lattice, a mosaic of patches of realities which have been linked together in a seamless urban landscape. Sometimes, areas of this cityscape shift: neighborhoods change position and shift out of the mosaic to make room for new arrivals. The city defies linear thinking: in Elsewhere everything is relative, even reality itself. Navigating, depending on where you are, is tricky. Someone travelling through the city actually travels through a series of realities that are connected by interdimensional interfaces.
An interface is a phenomenon that allows a traveller to pass from one precinct into another (precinct is a neighborhood that surround the centre of Elsewhere, the "Metroplex", in contrast to the exurbias, which are more distant conurbations). Interfaces range from simple, straightforward portals to imperceptible transition zones. Each interface in Elsewhere is unique in some way. Most inhabitants step through dozens of interfaces every day without a second thought. Travel through some interfaces, however, can be complex, involving passing through seemingly solid walls, or following the correct sequence of turns through a maze of alleyways. Some interfaces change their positions with respect to one another. This phenomenon is commonly referred to as "drift", and it makes for a lot of headaches and confusion. Some interfaces stand still, some drift at steady glacial rates, while others drift fast enough that travellers have to run to catch them.
More often than not, all interfaces in Elsewhere link realities that have something in common. For instance, an interface may join a contemporary version of Quartier Latin in Paris with an alternate version of the same area in another City of Lights or with a city that is fundamentally different but bears some strong resemblance to the bohemian quarters in capital of France. The similarity between the realities interfaced in Elsewhere manifests physically in the city's architecture. Inhabitants use these similarities to help them navigate the city. This method isn't foolproof, however; it's common for inhabitants to misinterpret the similarities between realities, take a wrong turn, and get lost.
Portals, Doorways and Labyrinths
While there's an infinite variety of interface types there are few general categories that most of them fall under: portals, doorways and labyrinths.
A portal is a general term for any interface that is blatantly obvious. There may be some visual clue that gives the interface away such as swirling fog or a glowing edge.
A doorway is an interface that connects two vastly different realities. The term doorway is also used to describe any interface that is manmade or "artificial," whether it was created via magic or high technology.
A labyrinth is a cluster of subtle, often tightly packed interfaces, frequently a maze of alleys and side streets. Most labyrinths are nearly devoid of street traffic, either because their environments were deserted to begin with or because people who find themselves within a labyrinth soon get lost and stumble randomly out into the rest of Elsewhere.
Outside and Inside
Entering Elsewhere from the "outside" city can be problematical. First the traveller must find an interface that leads into Elsewhere. This usually isn't a problem for travellers who have just left it and want to return, as the chances are good that the interface is still where they left it — although it isn't unusual for inhabitants to get stranded in realities that phase out of Elsewhere. Depending upon how much of a reality is in phase, as measured by the size and number of interfaces connecting it to Elsewhere, entering can be routine or extremely difficult (often Elsewhere interfaces are invisible to "outside” observers). When interfaces are large and easy to spot, finding them is as simple as scanning the horizon. When interfaces are small or unreliable it takes searching, investigation, Elsewhere knowhow, and a bit of luck to find them.
If a traveller wishes to exit Elsewhere, they must find an exit point into a reality which is not surrounded by interfaces back into Elsewhere. "Leaving" Elsewhere entails finding an exit that leads "out," as opposed to an exit that leads to yet another part of Elsewhere. This can be extremely difficult, or even impossible in some cases. Many residents have been trying to return to their home reality for months, to no avail.
The nature of realities in Elsewhere
The exact nature of the realities that compose Elsewhere is open to debate. Most inhabitants simply think of them as neighborhoods ("precincts"), and leave it at that. People of a philosophical bent continually wrack their brains over the significance of the relationships between realities within Elsewhere, but in practical terms Elsewhere behaves like a city with neighborhoods. The catch is that Elsewhere isn't a conventional chunk of real estate but a web of realities linked together by interfaces. Elsewhere is part city, part interdimensional junction, and it combines properties of both.
Each reality in phase with Elsewhere vary in proprieties and laws. Some are governed by strict physical laws, others by the supernatural, many are at balance between the two. A reality which is governed solely by physical laws may not operate under the same physical laws that any other reality does. The same goes true for realities that are supernaturally oriented. Fortunately for inhabitants, interfaces compensate for these differences in realities by 'translating' people to adapt them to the conditions of the realities they travel into. Unfortunately, translation often doesn't function on equipment, inhabitants can't rely on technological or magical equipment being translated to operate properly in a new reality. There are realities where technology above a certain level of sophistication doesn't work, or where technology doesn't function at all. In a number of other realities in Elsewhere, magic doesn't exist and is incapable of functioning. Many precincts also have idiosyncratic properties: there are psionic precincts where everyone can communicate telepathically; 'ghost' realities where everyone is incorporeal; non-chromatic realities where colors don't exist and everything really is black-and-white, and so on.
Elsewhere residents had to adapt in a variety of ways. Some were quickly able to make intuitive sense of the city's unique features, while other inhabitants only came to understand the city through months of head scratching and contemplation (some are still on the verge of lunacy, in trying to understand the scope of it all). Despite any misgivings they have about Elsewhere, most inhabitants wouldn't want to live anywhere else. They tend to perceive the city as the center of all that exists, and they can be snobbish towards inhabitants of mundane cities and outback realities.
There are all sorts of people in Elsewhere, but one thing unifies them: they are from [a] planet Earth, thousands of different versions of which that have come into phase with Elsewhere at one time or another. Realities containing humans or humanoid creatures predominate. There are areas of Elsewhere, however, where different kinds of realities and beings exist. These areas are extremely difficult to get to/from "conventional" Elsewhere. Although not technically "far" from the rest of Elsewhere (almost all of them located in the exurbias), these areas are isolated by the difficulty involved in getting to them. Travellers to "unconventional" areas may have to negotiate their way through a complex sequence of portals and labyrinths. As a general rule, the more isolated an area in Elsewhere is, the more alien it is from a humanoid perspective.
My setting. A patchwork from many books and series I've read and watched throughout the years, from Nexus to Cynosure, from Tanelorn to Top Ten, from Defiance to Babylon 5 (not forgetting my beloved Legion of Super-Heroes and Star Trek). It also gives leeway to have all sorts of interaction, not straying from the hominid type too much, but giving space to some alienness. A cosmpolitan space station in conurbation form, a world full of alien races in an area of several kilometres: that's how I envision Elsewhere. Some precincts are already fleshed out: the Metroplex (the center of Elsewhere); Township, Preserve, Bazaar, Province, Waterfront, Phantasmagoria and Necropolis; and the more distant exurbias of Singhabad, Hedjazi, Deraan, Escher-Bosch, Uhuru and Belcadiz. More are to come, depending on the characers created.