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Literature / Otherverse

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The Otherverse is the second setting written by John McCrae, a.k.a. Wildbow, featuring his second and fifth Web Serial Novels. Taking a more supernatural bent compared to his previous sci-fi series, this universe is focused on the secret lives of magical practitioners as they navigate the complicated Blue-and-Orange Morality system governing this hidden world of mysticism and the titular Others—the umbrella term for inhuman, magical individuals, ranging from foul-mouthed goblins to omnicidal demons.

The setting was first referenced in Worm as the In-Universe Maggie Holt YA series, apparently focused on the Tritagonist of Pact. Wildbow has stated he intends to eventually close out the universe with a serial tentatively entitled Pyre, which will presumably star Maggie (or Mags, after she lost her original name to faerie shenanigans in the first book) in her third and final round of "blood, darkness, and fire."

The main works in the series so far include:

  • Pact (2013-2015): Blake Thorburn is a perpetually down on his luck handyman who wants nothing more than to escape the inheritance dispute that has torn his family apart, but when his cousin Molly, heir to their late grandmother's estate, is suddenly and gruesomely murdered, Blake finds himself the next in line. Working with a female vestige of himself, Rose, the two must contend with the secret life of magic and diabolism their grandmother left to them, along with the legions of enemies their family has made of the other local practitioners.
  • Pale (2020-): After the murder of an influential Other, three girls—Verona, Lucy, and Avery—are awakened by the local powers to serve as impartial investigators into this crime. Along the way they end up unearthing a massive conspiracy to upend the natural order of Ontario, and their lives are changed forever in the process.

Other short stories include:

  • Poke, centered around the strangely heartwarming relationship between a practitioner and a goblin.
  • Pâté (2022), featuring two practitioners visiting the Shrinefall of Meru for research into a guidebook on other realms.

The Otherverse contains example of:

  • Angels, Devils and Squid: There are three major cosmic powers. The angels are eldritch beings of order that oppose any damage to reality, but their efforts to stave off this devastation don't necessarily make them "good." Demons are Always Chaotic Evil creatures of oblivion, constantly working to tear down and slowly corrupt the universe; it is theorized that what remains of our world now is merely the scraps left behind after they devoured whatever reality previously was. And acting as a powerful rival to both is the Abyss, the remnants of primordial Chaos where everything that has lost connections to the world falls down into; its inhabitants are twisted until they are either destroyed or become Bogeymen.
  • Cannot Tell a Lie: One of the integral rules of magic is that practitioners cannot lie—while perfectly capable of it, doing so hurts one's karma and drains their power. Others bound by the Seal of Solomon are also forbidden from lying, with the consequence for doing so being unmade.
  • The Clan: One of the major ways in which practitioners can be awakened is if they are already part of a powerful family that can pass down the knowledge and power they've accumulated. Two of the major antagonistic factions of Pact, the Behaims and the Duchamps, continue their legacies this way, although it has the unfortunate impact of solidifying harmful traditions such as Arranged Marriages.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: Gerhild the Redcap Queen was the leader of the goblins that wiped out Maggie's hometown and condemned her to experience two more rounds of "blood, darkness, and fire," which ultimately led to the battle for Lordship in Jacob's Bell escalating into a desperate scramble to prevent the town from either falling into the Abyss or being claimed by a demon. Her forces continue to work in the background throughout the events of Pale, with one of her minions entering the contest for the Carmine Throne to escape from her, and her growing power signals that she will almost certainly become a major threat to everyone within a few years.
  • Urban Fantasy: The world of the Otherverse, on the surface, is quite similar to ours, with the magical horrors encountered by the protagonists kept hidden from the public.