- 1 Overview
- 2 Functionals
- 3 Customs
- 4 Worlds of the Fan
- 5 Main characters
- 6 See also
Besides our world, there exist alternate worlds whose development did not follow ours. All of these worlds are called the worlds of the Fan. Passages exist between these worlds, which are opened through the houses of customs officers-functionals, which often look like towers (at least most of the ones operated by males). Some of these worlds are inhabited, while others are devoid of human presence. However, it is possible that all worlds are inhabited. Initially, it is stated that there are only two dozen worlds. Later, though, it is revealed that the number is much higher.
All inhabited worlds feature a small percentage (about 1 in 20,000) of special people called functionals.
Functionals are people who have been "erased" from their lives and granted certain superhuman abilities, which work only within a certain area no more than 200 square kilometers (about 77 square miles). There is also a very small number of functionals who are not attached to a specific location. Usually, all abilities of a functional are directly linked to his or her function.
Functionals began to appear on our Earth in the 1810s.
Becoming a functional
The process of a human turning into a functional starts with everyone forgetting him or her, starting with random acquaintances and ending with immediate family members. This process can take anyone from two-three days to several weeks. The "forgetting" is not instantaneous. Other people will, at first, still recognize the future functional, albeit with some difficulty. Then they will get a sense of deja vu upon meeting him or her and, eventually, forget about the functional completely. At the same time, all official documents and records related to the person disappear, and most personal effects (ID, apartment/house keys, etc.) turn to dust. His or her house or apartment is occupied by other people who are convinced that they have always lived there. If the functional meets anyone during this period, the new acquaintance immediately forgets him or her upon departure.
At the end of this period, the new functional receives a message, inviting him or her to a certain place. The type of the message depends on the level of technology at the time. For example, in modern times, the functional gets a text message, while in the 1920s, one would get a telegram delivered by a postman-functional. Upon arriving to the specified location, the functional sees a house, which becomes his or her function (place of residence/work). The message is sent by a midwife-functional, whose function is to help the process of "birthing" new functionals.
Abilities and limitations of functionals
Functionals have superhuman abilities related to their function as well as all the necessary knowledge. Some functionals (such as customs officers and police officers) are granted advanced physical abilities (superstrength and superspeed) and knowledge of martial arts, allowing them to easily defeat several well-trained humans. There are, however, not equal in combat abilities — while a customs officer is a superior combatant, even he or she is incapable of defeating a police officer.
Functionals do not age or get sick; they look younger than their biological age and are able to regenerate. A functional's regenerative ability is more advanced the closer he or she is to his or her function. Inside his or her function, a functional is nearly invulnerable (it is suggested that even beheading a functional inside his or her function would not kill him or her).
The functional's place of work/residence restructures itself in accordance with the functional's wishes. There are, however, limitations to this: the function will only create the bare minimum required for a more or less comfortable life. It will not create food, items of luxury, money or anything living.
Functionals are allowed (and, usually, welcome) to use the services of other functionals.
A functional is tied to his or her function with a so-called "leash". A typical length of a "leash" is 10-11 kilometers (about 6.5 miles). While a functional is able to go beyond this radius, he or she loses all functional abilities. It should be noted that a functional's "leash" also extends to other worlds through customs. For example, if a functional lives 4 kilometers away from a customs office, he or she can only go 6-7 kilometers away from the customs office on another world.
A functional is incapable of completely reject his or her function but can make his or her duties extremely easy (for example, a maid-functional whose hotel is never occupied).
Types of functionals
Most functionals have regular human jobs (doctor, restaurant owner, etc.). Their services are available to other functionals and the select humans who are aware of their existence. These humans are usually the social elite, such as politicians, moguls, artists, and others. The relations between the social elite and the functionals differ from world to world.
Police officer-functionals maintain order among the functionals. They are granted highly developed reasoning as well as combat abilities. Their function is not a specific place but a certain territory.
Customs officer-functionals operate the customs between worlds. They open doors to other worlds, let people through them and prevent the import and export of illegal goods. They also charge tariffs for certain items. All proceeds are kept by the customs officers. Only a customs officer is able to open doors in his or her function. They instinctively know everything the visitors are carrying and all the appropriate tariffs.
Midwife-functionals help new functionals leave their lives behind and find their function. They are extremely powerful and are able to kill a human in another room by stopping his or her heart with a thought. They can also destroy a functional's function, which would usually kill the affected functional as well. Midwives are not tied to specific locations or territories; their function covers an entire world.
Customs are doorways to other worlds. The customs are operated by a customs officer-functional, the only person who is able to let others through the doors. A customs office is not dependent on the outside worlds and can only be destroyed by a thermonuclear warhead.
The ratio of customs officers to all functionals is surprisingly high. For example, Moscow has 17 customs officers for only 700 functionals.
Passageways between worlds are usually limited to 2 square meters (i.e. the size of a door). It is extremely difficult to create a passageway that would allow a large object (such as a tank) to pass, while anything larger is physically impossible.
Worlds of the Fan
Earth 1 (Arkan)
This world was long thought to be most similar to ours but historically ahead by 35 years. It was later discovered that, historically, Arkan is actually behind. However, in several areas, most notably in military technology, it is more advanced than Demos. Uses the other worlds as test sites for various experiments. For example, Demos is used as a platform for developing technology. However, this use of other worlds by Arkan led to its war with the world of Tverd, which was originally supposed to be the test site for the development of biotechnology. Arkan controls other worlds with the use of functionals. Geographically, Arkan is very similar to Demos.
Earth 2 (Demos)
Our world. One of the most technologically advanced worlds in the Fan. Named so due to democracy being the prevailing form of government.
Earth 3 (Veroz)
A world without petroleum, which caused its technological development to stall (due to interference from Arkan) at the level of Demos in the 19th century (making Veroz an example of a steampunk world). Veroz fauna is also different from Demos fauna. For example, traveling the seas is dangerous, as krakens are real in this world. Also, there are nearly two dozen species of dinosaurs in existence in Africa. The generic shape of continents on Veroz is similar to Demos continents with some significant differences. For example, India is an island not a peninsula. Also, Veroz's complex political system is also radically different from ours. It includes elements of feudalism and democracy, while our version of democracy is seen as primitive. There are no nation-states on Veroz. While there are occasional alliances between the many city-states, they are usually fragile and do not survive the end of wars. As such, wars on Veroz would be seen by Demos inhabitants as nothing more than localized conflicts. Known cities: Kimgim in place of Stockholm, Orysultan in place of Moscow, and Zarhtan in place of Saint-Petersburg. Islam is a peaceful religion and is most prominent in Orysultan. Isa the Prophet is the Veroz version of Jesus Christ, with Christians being an aggressive religious minority.
Earth 4 (Antik)
A world artificially stalled at the level of Ancient Greece (hence the name). Slavery is a major part of everyday life on Antik, with several major differences between slavery in Demos history. A master may not claim a slave's property for himself. This means that it is not uncommon for a slave to be wealthier than his master and have servants and concubines (but not slaves of his own). Twice a year, slaves are handed out weapons, so that they can rebel. If a slave succeeds, he trades places with his master.
A friendly and attractive world, whose technological development is at the level of Demos in the 1950s. Its inhabitants are close to developing space travel. There is, however, a biological curiosity which makes the sociopolitical structure of Earth 5 very complicated — humans have a set mating season in spring, just like animals.
Earth 8 (Tverd)
A world dominated by the Catholic Church. While several nations do exist on Tverd, their governments handle the lower-level day-to-day management of their countries. The Church handles the theological and higher-level international issues. While the Church does exercise control over the entire world, they are so secure in their rule that they allow other religions to exist without persecution, including Islam, Judaism, and Orthodoxy, preferring to convince nonbelievers to convert through the use of philosophical debate rather than force. Tverd's level of development is mostly equal to the Late Medieval period of Demos history. The significant exceptions are the fields of biotechnology and genetics. Most devices and appliances are made from living things. For example, genetically modified medusae are used to create the Tverd equivalent of contact lenses, which can also be used to see certain wavelengths invisible to the naked eye (e.g. infrared). The Church has but one rule for genetic engineering: a human may not be modified in any way, as humans are made in the image of God. Other results of Tverd bioengineering efforts include Yorkshire Terriers able to leap many times their height into the air and kill a person within a few seconds, songbirds which act as biological recordings of songs, and flying gargoyles which act as the Church's air force. Tverd is the only well-known inhabited world that exists without interference from Arkan. Centuries ago, after the Church cardinals (the Church is ruled by the Cardinal Council instead of a single Pope) discovered the existence of functionals, they were systematically hunted down and eliminated in a manner similar to the witch-hunts of Demos during the Middle Ages. All known customs offices were immured, leaving one in Vatican, protected round-the-clock by female Swiss Guards and killer Yorkshire Terriers, to allow for diplomacy with the agents of Arkan. This customs office was also immured during the attempt by Arkan special forces to capture Kirill Maximov.
This world is only mentioned once throughout both novels. Humanity does not exist on Earth 12, its place having been taken over by giant hairy spiders.
Earth 14 (Janus)
A world which is officially considered to be uninhabited. Later, it is discovered that Janus is populated by Stone Age-level humans. The geography of this world is unknown, but the climate is extremely harsh: furious winters and scorching summers. This is explained by the lack of sufficient solar energy (i.e. either the Sun is too far away, or it is weaker than ours).
The functional homeworld and, possibly, Demos's future. Less than 10% of the surface is habitable, and the remaining inhabitants of this once-prosperous world live on islands. The remaining 90% of the planet, including the mainlands, is covered by a volcanically-active radioactive wasteland. All customs that open to Earth 16 only open to the mainlands, ensuring that no one finds out the truth about this world (most functionals believe Earth 16 to be Hell). The only remaining sign of this worlds former greatness is a strange-looking skyscraper on an inhabited island, unseen to most humans. The structure is, actually, a museum and holds little value to functionals. It is protected by an angel-like functional.
Earth 18 (Preserve)
An uninhabited world, although some believe that to be false. Used by functionals and some humans as a popular vacation spot.
Earth 22 (Nirvana)
A world used by functionals as a prison of sorts. This is achieved using the naturally occurring fungus which produces spores that have a narcotic effect on humans. The spores can only exist on Nirvana. A settlement has been built by humans who have been sent to this world by functionals. The settlement is located close to two customs offices (one after Kirill's was destroyed). Vasilisa, a customs officer-functional, helps the inhabitants and teaches their children. The humans themselves are so used to the narcotic effect of the fungus, that they are incapable of leaving Nirvana without suffering severe withdrawal.
An unknown world, the existence of which is known only to the top functionals. It can be inferred that its level of technological development far exceeds all known worlds of the Fan. The humans of Earth 46 have advanced knowledge of quantum physics, putting them on the level with Earth 16 functionals. They are capable of building powerful combat robots, whose consciousnesses are copied from living or deceased humans. For example, on Earth 16, Kirill meets a robot from Earth 46, whose consciousness was copied from a poet named Anatol Lars, who was killed during the functional invasion of that world. On Earth 46, humans live in peace with the robots, and there are more of the latter. It is likely that robots are used as vessels for deceased humans who wish to live on in any form. After the functional invasion, Earth 46 was sealed forever from the rest of the Fan, preventing anyone from coming or leaving that world.
- Kirill Maximov — the protagonist of the duology. Customs official-functional, although later gains some curator abilities and is revealed to be essential to the survival of Demos.
- Konstantin Chagin — Kirill's best friend and the curator of Demos. Born in Byzantium centuries ago. Became the curator by killing the previous one. Afraid of suffering a similar fate. Likes writing trashy, perverted stories for a local magazine.