"...but sometimes it happens that the shortest distance between two points is a crooked line...through the Twilight Zone."
This is when a character
briefly enters another dimension/world/plane
as a means of covering distance in their home dimension.
There are three key elements:
- The character enters another dimension etc.
- They physically travel some distance
- They have a choice of exits, leading to different locations in the home dimension
This is usually done because travelling via the other dimension allows them to go a greater relative distance in less time
, or avoid obstacles present in the home dimension
. However, in many cases it is difficult or impossible to perceive the home dimension from the transit dimension, requiring skill, luck
or experience to know exactly when and where they will re-emerge.
The ease and safety of this mode of travel varies, with many transit dimensions having their own dangers. Some types of dimensions are limited to spiritual travel, meaning they can only be used in this way by beings without an anchoring body.
In Science Fiction
often acts as this for Faster-Than-Light Travel
. Where the transit dimension is a shadow plane or shadow reflection of the home dimension, this character is a Shadow Walker
. If there are semi-permanent entrances to the transit dimension, may overlap with Portal Network
or Portal Crossroad World
. It is a common feature of a Layered World
Characters may also use the Void Between the Worlds
, rather than visiting a specific other dimension; however the same travel rules apply.
Compare Thinking Up Portals
where a character bypasses the alternate dimension, creating a portal directly linking two locations in the same dimension. Also Our Wormholes Are Different
, which can be either a gateway into another dimension, or a (piece of) alternate dimension in the form of a single-terminus tunnel.
Only occasionally results in Short Cuts Make Long Delays
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Anime and Manga
- In an early episode of Space Battleship Yamato lightspeed is explained as working like a shortcut through space: travelling at sublight you go in a wavy-line from point A to point B, but at lightspeed you can go in a straight line, cutting travel time drastically.
- Marvel Universe: The mutant Cloak can teleport himself and others through the dimension of darkness he has access to.
- X-Men member Nightcrawler's teleportation abilities involve him slipping into an dimension, traveling very quickly through it then popping out elsewhere. The exact nature of this dimension varies from adaptation to adaptation.
- Scott Pilgrim: Subspace is used this way (among other things). Ramona uses it to make fast deliveries.
- The Wheel of Time contains several examples:
- Rand and some of the male Forsaken use tel'aran'rhiod – the World of Dreams - for this, taking the risk of entering in the flesh rather than just as a dream. During his battles with Ishmael/Ba'alzamon and Rahvin this allows it to act as a Phantom Zone, protecting the real world from the destruction of their weaves.
- The Ways are a Portal Network linking all of the major ancient cities. They consist of a half-world full of an artificially grown maze of bridges; travelling on these allows you to compress a journey of weeks into days. Since the Breaking, these have become corrupted and unstable; used by Trollocks and haunted by the Black Wind.
- Unlike Travelling, Skimming works in this way. The gateways lead to the Void Between the Worlds which you travel through on a magically created platform. After an arbitrary period of time – measured in minutes or sometimes hours – the platform stops and another gateway forms, leading to your destination.
- In an unintentional example in The Great Hunt Rand, Loial and Hurin get separated from the rest of their group, Rand's saidin accidentally activating a nearby pillar stone and sending them to a mostly empty alternate reality. Thanks to Hurin's supernatural ability to smell violence they are able to continue following their quarry's path in the 'real' world; they eventually manage to find and control another pillar stone, returning to their reality several days ahead of their quarry and the rest of their group.
- The first of Death's precincts in Garth Nix's Old Kingdom trilogy is different to the others in that its outer edge touches Life, so lateral movement has meaning. Dead willing and able to resist the river can walk along the edge of the boundary to change where in Life they will emerge, sometimes voluntarily re-entering Death for this purpose. Necromancers are unable to make use of this as only their spirit enters Death and their return location is tied to their physical body.
- The titular knife in The Subtle Knife is sharp enough to cut through reality, creating dimensional doorways. While this is mostly used for simple travel between worlds, there is also one case where the characters need to steal a small and well protected artefact. To do this, they travel through a different world until they think they are in the right position then cut a small doorway right next to the object, reach thorough and grab it. Another time, their exit in one world needs to be much higher than the ground level in the current one, requiring that they find a hill and two storey building to be able to position the doorway correctly.
- In The Fallen Moon Skandar's magic is the ability to travel quickly and invisibly between places by passing through a 'shadow world'. The Night God's favour allows Arenadd to share this ability. In the sequel trilogy Saeddryn is also granted this power.. In addition to faster and unimpeded travel, it is also used for advantages during fights and assassinations – allowing the user easy retreat and the ability to strike their opponent while remaining untouchable/intangible.
- Ships in The Flight Engineer enter and exit hyper by accelerating to roughly 0.1c towards a jump point. They then transit to another dimension, connected to maybe three or four other jump points.
- In the Honor Harrington universe hyperspace is layered like an onion, with our normal spacetime being the outer layer. The distance between points becomes further compressed as you transit to higher bands, although until Mission of Honor nobody's transited higher than the theta bands and lived to tell the story. Most ships don't go higher than the zeta bands under normal circumstances.
- In The Dresden Files, the Nevernever can be used this way by those who know the proper Ways to take.
- Infernal City, the first of the novels in the The Elder Scrolls series includes a subplot where Prince Attrebus and Sul need to cross the entire continent of Tamriel in a hurry. The quickest way to do so is to pass through several planes of Oblivion and return at their destination.
- In Fred Saberhagen's Berserker series, "Flightspace" is some sort of other plane or space which consists of force currents flowing through the galaxy, between and amongst the stars, which ships enter to reach superluminal speeds.
- The Time Vortex in Doctor Who is a fifth dimension the TARDIS can travel in. Within episodes the Doctor tends to use it to travel in short hops, leaving longer distances in both space and time for between adventures.
- This is the way hyperspace works in the Babylon 5 universe. Hyperspace is actually another physical dimension parallel to ours, but where distances between points are significantly shorter.
- Dungeons & Dragons
- In 1st Edition, the psionic science Dimension Walk was used to move through various dimensions and end up back in the Prime Material Plane a considerable distance from where you started. Using this power allowed travel at a rate of 21 miles per ten minutes (126 miles per hour).
- In 1st and 2nd Edition a character could enter the Ethereal Plane, move at tremendous speed to another location corresponding to a particular place on the Prime Material Plane, then leave the Ethereal Plane at that place.
- 1st/2nd Edition Greyhawk Adventures supplement. The deity Istus could use her Spindle of Fate to cast a Web of Stars, which sent the targets to another plane of existence. Once there, a creature that knew the way could travel the Web and arrive at any desired location.
- 2nd Edition Forgotten Realms Adventures supplement. After reaching level 10, specialty priests of the deity Bhaal could use the ability Plane Skipping. This involved traveling to Bhaal's home plane of Gehenna, moving an appropriate distance on Gehenna and then returning to the priest's original plane. Each 10 feet the priest moved on Gehenna caused them to return 1 mile away from where they started from. The entire trip took about 20 minutes plus the time necessary to move the distance on Gehenna.
- The 2nd Edition spell Shadow Walk allowed the caster and any creatures he/she touched to partially enter the Plane of Shadow. This allowed them to move at a speed of 7 miles per 10 minutes (42 miles per hour) with regard to the Prime Material Plane. When the journey was completed, they could return to the Prime Material Plane at the desired location.
- The "Dimension Door" spell is a line-of-sight teleportation spell whose name suggests that it works this way. And one version of the fluff text for teleportation in general states that all such spells work by jumping in and out of the Astral Plane.
- Warhammer 40,000:
- This is used as a vital means of transportation for the Imperium and Chaos forces. The problem with this sort of FTL travel is that they have to travel through the Warp, a twisted alternate dimension where the Chaos Gods and their many daemons reside. Those ships that get lost or destroyed in there usually become Space Hulks, massive patchwork shipwrecks that drift about in space.
- The Webway is a labyrinthine alternate dimension used by the Eldar which has no connection to the Warp, however some sections have been completely blocked off due to the Necrons invading. The Dark Eldar even have their main city of Commorragh in it, as it's the only place where they're safe from the attentions of Slaanesh.
- Dark Eldar Mandrakes exist in a kind of shadow dimension that allows them to pop back into realspace from people's shadows.
- The Tau have no psychic ability and thus no ability to see the Warp. Their FTL is therefore achieved by putting the ship into the space between realspace and the Warp, reaching lightspeed, and coasting out (the effect is directly compared to holding a ball underwater and letting go). While safer, it's also around five times slower than Warp travel.
- Call of Cthulhu setting Dreamlands. The Dreamlands have a number of locations which touch the waking world and allow physical entry from and exit to that world. Some examples are the Enchanted Wood (connects to the Black Forest in Germany, the California redwoods, Transylvania and Roanoke Island), ghoul burrows (Earthly graveyards), the icy lands of Lomar (Alaska, Siberia and Greenland) and certain forbidden ways into the waking world beyond the Tanarian Hills. A daring character could enter the Dreamlands from one of these places in the waking world, travel the Dreamlands to an exit and use it to return to the waking world.
- Chaosium's Stormbringer supplement Demon Magic - The Second Stormbringer Companion. The adventure "Sorcerer's Isle" introduced Gateway Opener demons, which could create a gateway to the Infinite Planes. The adventuress Lysansiptra was so familiar with the planes that she could use a gateway to travel to another plane, wait there for a while until the alignment changed, then create another gateway and return to the desired location on the Young Kingdoms plane.
- In Minecraft, locations in the Nether correspond to the Overworld, but traveling some distance in the Nether equals traveling 8 times that distance in the Overworld, so you can use the Nether to travel rapidly, assuming you can survive the monsters that live there.
- In The Secret World, the alternate dimension of Agartha acts as a sort of trans-dimensional subway system, complete with quintessential British stationmaster.
- Darksiders has the snakeroads, that reside in a green-tinted (or orange) dimension which lets the player quickly traverse between levels. They are accessible through Vulgrim's shops, and some of them even have secret chests in them.
- In Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne, this is the main usage of The Amala Network. Terminals allow the player to enter the network at one location and exit it at another location. Generally, this takes no more than a few seconds, but a couple of times you get stuck and have to navigate your way through the Network to find the exit.
- In The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion certain islands in the lava of Mehrunes Dagon's plane of Oblivion, reached through the Oblivion Gates, contain a second gate on the opposite side of the island from the one you entered. You can exit the second gate and potentially end up on the other side of Cyrodiil from where you entered (it's random).