Term originally coined outside sf as an alternative to "universe" that supposedly avoided any presupposition of a unique and ordered creation. Its first recorded use was in an 1895 speech by US philosopher-psychologist William James (1842-1910), collected in his Will to Believe (coll 1897): "Visible nature is all plasticity and indifference, a moral multiverse, as one might call it, and not a moral universe." The UK physicist Oliver Lodge (1851-1940) applied it to the universe or universes of Physics (reported 11 October 1904 Daily News), and the term also appears in the works of G K Chesterton and John Cowper Powys. Michael Moorcock reinvented the word for sf in "The Blood Red Game" (May 1963 Science Fiction Adventures), where it stands for the totality of all possible alternate universes or Parallel Worlds. Placing such worlds in the common framework of the multiverse implies the possibility of contact, interaction and travel between alternate realities. This meaning, reinforced by very frequent restatement in Moorcock's later sf and even more in his Fantasy, is now commonly used in both sf and sf criticism. In his Manifold sequence, Stephen Baxter borrows a term from Mathematics – specifically, topology – and refers to this sheaf of possible universes as the Manifold. [DRL]
see also: Dimensions.
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