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The Universes at Your Fingers
by Jeffrey M. Mahr
from an idea suggested by Sapphire
©1999 Adirondack WYSIWYG -- all rights reserved

There are many wonderful facets to being a member of an Internet mailing list like TSA-Talk; the camaraderie, the discussions of topics of special interest to list members, and most important to me, the opportunity to read stories written by some very creative people. Some of these stories strike a chord for other members of the list and prompt them to write a story using some of the characters and situations described in that original story. Thus, a universe is born, a group of stories based upon a standard set of assumptions. Admittedly, there usually isn't the colossal explosion and accompanying dispersal of pre-planetary material characteristic of the normal creation of a universe when a story universe is created, but it's still pretty exciting. Below we highlight just a few of the more popular universes; ones that have been so popular archives have been created to help contain many of the related stories.

Spells R Us

Begun by Bill Hart with his "A Strangeness at the Frat House," there are two -- count 'em, two -- archives dedicated to Spells R Us, commonly abbreviated as SRU. One is at Sapphire's Annex and the other is Thomas Silver's Spells R Us Archive. The Spells R Us universe has even spawned off several sub-universes, Spells R Us "Crackers" where animal or human shaped crackers/cookies are the transformation agent and SRU High School where the story has moved away from the wizard to the effects of his work as applied, via a magic scale, at the hand of a high school principal.

The Spells R Us stories are the most consistently upbeat, but how could they not be when the single character present in each story is a wily old wizard with a truly unique sense of humor. The premise: an old man often found dressed in a ratty old bathrobe, runs a store names Spells R Us that seems to magically pop up in various malls, but only for a selected clientele. It could be a doll, a videotape, or a potion he provides for his customer(s). What it is doesn't matter, but what happens does. It should be noted that the vast majority of SRU stories involve transgender themes. Prospective authors should be aware that this is a totally open universe, so anyone may write in it without the prerequisite of checking with a "universe controller" to assure the story will be consistent with universe guidelines (and sometimes even projected events).

Metamor Keep

Metamor Keep is a fantasy world of wizards and dragons. To the north is untold evil while to the south the Midlands are divided and weak; ripe for invasion. Between them is Metamor Keep, guarding the only path through the mountains separating the two lands. It is the brave and heroic people of the Keep that prevent the Midlands from being overrun.

No that many years ago, the Wizard Nasoj and his Lutin hordes swooped down from the north and tried to take the Keep. His army was beaten back, but not without a high cost. During the battle Nasoj and his wizards cast three monstrous spells. The first spell transformed its victims into incredibly buxom women or over proportioned men, the second spell made its victims full animals, and the third spell changed its victims into helpless infants. The Keep's wizards fought back and were able to partially reverse the spells, but the modified curses remain to this day, causing any who remain within to fall victim to one of the three curses.

Still, life goes on, and whether man, woman, child or animal, the people of Metamor Keep continue to keep the tide of evil at bay, and the Keep remains a bastion of hope and of enlightenment.

Under the careful management of Chris O'Kane, Copernicus' original tale "Metamor Keep," remains vibrant and entertaining to this day and a tremendous selection of stories, maps, biographies, and artwork about Metamor Keep can be found at the Metamor Keep Archive.

Altered Fates

Based upon the "Legend of the Medallion Zulo," Altered Fates is the open universe that describes the wandering trail of the medallion as it enters and changes the lives of a variety of people. What would you do if you found a necklace that let you change into the form, and, to some extent, even the mind of someone else, merely by touching the necklace to an article of clothing? Of course, with all magical charms, there are rules to be learned... and the medallion has a tendency to be lost at the most inopportune times.

Many of the Altered Fates stories can be found at Jennifer's Story Archive, along with several other anthologies including those of "The Professor."

And Still More Story Universes...

If you like groups of themed stories, check out some of the other story universes spawned by the inventive minds of the folks on TSA-Talk at the TSA FAQs. Read and enjoy folks.

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