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6 Books like Interworld: A World Away

Alice Baynton itcherThe fantastic ‘Interworld’ trilogy is set in the ‘Altiverse’, where infinite universes co‐exist. It is a triumph in its use of the ‘many worlds’ theory, and is the kind of read enjoyed immensely by both adult and YA readers. If you’ve just finished ‘Interworld’ and are at a loss, read my list of books like Interworld and discover ‘Magids’, ‘His Dark Materials’, ‘The Magician’s Nephew’, ‘The Wee Free Men’, ‘Gulliver’s Travels’ and ‘Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell’. ~ Alice Baynton

The Best of Both Worlds

Fiction featuring many worlds is by no means a brand new invention, however in the last decade it has been really gaining in popularity.

Many worlds can mean sci‐fi or fantasy, it can be adult, YA or children’s fiction. It usually features a plucky main protagonist who begins the story unaware of other worlds. However it’s done, it is always exciting to see what unique slant each author gives the theory of multiple universes.

‘Magids’ (Diana Wynne Jones, 2002 – 2004)

If you’re looking for a book like ‘Interworld’ you had better start with ‘Magids’. It is set in a ‘Multiverse’ very similar in concept to the ‘Altiverse’. The worlds stretch from ‘Ayeward’ (good, magical) to ‘Nayward’ (anti‐magic, generally bad).

Diana Wynne Jones writes simply and straightforwardly, her prose is full of colourful characters. She brings such life to her heroes and villains that reading ‘Magids’ or indeed any of her books for adults or children, is a delight.

Similarity Match: 95%
Both the ‘Altiverse’ of ‘Interworld’ and the ‘Multiverse’ of ‘Magids’ stretch from scientific to magical, with Earth somewhere in the middle. Neil Gaiman and Diana Wynne Jones write flawed and human characters, with plenty of humour to break up the action and any tragedy. You couldn’t find a closer match.

‘His Dark Materials’ (Philip Pullman, 1995 – 2000)

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A masterpiece of multiple worlds. He uses so much detail and bases so much of the science in reality that you truly believe his version of travelling between worlds is possible.

Lyra and Will are two of the most loved characters in fiction. Combine their vivid complexity with daemons, armoured bears and witches, and you have a trilogy that will be considered a classic for centuries to come.

There are whispers, like here in the Independent, that the BBC is about to begin production on a series based on the books…

Similarity Match: 80%
A trilogy – tick. Many worlds – tick. Suitable for all age groups – tick. The difference for me is the depth and intensity of Philip Pullman’s series. ‘Interworld’ could be described as a ‘romp’, an ‘adventure’, whereas ‘His Dark Materials’ will rip little pieces out of your heart.

‘The Magician’s Nephew’ (C.S Lewis, 1955)

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Again, a classic. C.S. Lewis is as popular today as he as was half a century ago. If you have been putting off reading his series because they are ‘for children’, please don’t.

I recommend this one book over the whole series because it revolves around the idea of there being multiple worlds that are accessible from one ‘base’ world like the ‘In‐Between’ from ‘Interworld’ only calmer, with trees and ponds.

If you read the books on this list, and want to follow further down this rabbit hole, then find books like ‘The Chronicles of Narnia‘ here.

Similarity Match: 85%
Multiple worlds accessed by magic. An ‘In‐Between’ world. A young, previously innocent hero. The main difference with this book, and all of the other books in this series, are that they are very simply about magic. Lewis doesn’t employ any scientific ideas to pad out his multiple worlds.

‘The Wee Free Men’ (Terry Pratchett, 2003)

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The other books in the ‘Tiffany Aching Series’ include references to other worlds, and the odd visit, but the entire plot of ‘The Wee Free Men’ revolves around her visiting ‘Fairyland’ which is why it alone gets a place on my list.

It is also aimed at the YA reading audience, but I have read them as an adult and thoroughly enjoyed their spark and humour. You can’t go wrong with Terry Pratchett.  

Similarity Match: 75%
Even though there’s a similarity in tone, this book is more of a fairy land/rabbit hole adventure into a magical world rather than a sci‐fi exploration of multiple worlds. However, if you enjoy Neil Gaiman’s writing I can guarantee you will enjoy Terry Pratchett.


If You Like ‘Interworld’, You Will Like…

If you want to branch off in terms of tone and subject matter, but still stay in a multiple worlds adventure, then these books are also worth exploring.

‘Gulliver’s Travels’ (Jonathan Swift, 1726)

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The original. The much studied, much discussed, much copied story of different worlds with different peoples.

The writing is old fashioned (I mean, the guy was writing in the 1700’s, give him a break) and there is nothing scientific about this story, but if you want to get to the root of the genre, I think this is probably it.

Lilliputians, giants and pirates. What’s not to like? 

The book is similar to ‘Interworld’ in that its hero moves from world to world. The big differences are the lack of scientific explanation, and that there is no central quest. Recommended if you want to really get to the root of the genre, understand where it all began.

‘Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell’ (Suzanna Clarke, 2004)

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If you read all of the books on this list, you will have read a lot of quick‐read, YA style books and might fancy something really meaty and dark to get your teeth into.

It is similar to ‘Interworld’ because it features another world, fairyland. Our hero travels through mirrors into fairyland, so there is little sci‐fi involved, but the book begins on our earth, in ‘reality’ as does ‘Interworld’. The similarities end there, so it didn’t deserve a place in my main list of books like ‘Interworld’. 

Journeys into another universe? Yes. Magic? Yes. But that’s about it. Despite its differences it is truly a wonderful and unique work of fiction so I recommend this book to anyone, on any list, anytime. In any world.


Many Joys

Whether sci‐fi or fantasy, YA or adult, 18th or 21st century, there are many joys to many worlds fiction.

Something about the idea of parallel universes or invisible worlds just beyond our reach inspires and excites readers, writers and even scientists.

Have you ever visited another world? Perhaps not.

But have you read about one in a book I’ve missed off this list?

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