It is literally impossible to explain the world of TTU without coming back to the event that started it all: The Changes.
the following is copied over from http://www.tomorrowlands.org/story/history.html
; it needs to be broken into chunks and added to the appropriate CategoryEras pages. For the moment, it's a start. -b
"It is certainly wrong to assume, as some people do, that The Changes began with EventTheFirstSighting, and I think even EventTheMissingMoment was much too late. The first visible event, yes. But not the start. Waking up and realizing you're no longer asleep are two different things."
Rumors of odd monster sightings started circulating as the year drew to a close, but nobody paid them much attention until that first fateful day. On December 18, 1996, tens of thousands of Americans watched their televisions in shock as a dragon -- a living, flesh-and-blood dragon -- walked through the background of a small Midwestern station's live news broadcast.
By next morning, the major networks had picked up the footage from the station, every newspaper in the country was running pictures, and the expected claims of fraud were being vigorously denied by several dozen on-the-scene witnesses (and some experts, who pointed out that this "publicity stunt" would have to have a vast conspiracy of silence and a multimillion-dollar budget behind it if it were, in fact, fake). The Committee for Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal offered a $100,000 reward to anyone who could bring the dragon, in person, before a board of scientists. (A reward which, ironically, still goes unclaimed.)
The controversy was short-lived: as word spread, more dragons almost immediately started popping up left and right, along with a dizzying variety of other mythic animals, animal-human hybrids, and animal shapeshifters. Reports started flooding in of confirmed sightings worldwide. It was no longer a question of "is this happening?" but "what is happening?" And why?
Predictably, apocalyptic sentiment ran high. Many claimed that the End Times were upon us. The most visible and cogent refutation came, interestingly enough, from one of the dragons -- CharacterDennisRedwing
, whose fame would only grow as time passed. "Where did chapters 7 through 11 of Revelation go?" he pointed out, in one of the world's first televised interviews of a nonhuman. "In the Bible, a dragon only appears after a string of worldwide disasters and the disappearance of 144,000 people." He offered the alternate view that we were going through a transition rather than an ending; that the Earth and all of her children were awakening, that we were becoming active participants in our reality, rather than just inhabitants. The appearance of nonhumans was a side effect of this, Redwing said: We were being handed the pen of reality for the first time, and asked to help write, and naturally the first thing that we added to the book was our collective mythology.
Redwing's explanation of the events now popularly called The Changes would eventually gain general acceptance, but at the time, it was a little too forward-thinking. (Verifiable reports of magic took longer to surface, the phenomenon being more subtle and less understood than the dragon appearance.) At the time, people wanted reassurance, not explanation. The world had, in a real sense, been turned upside down, and nobody could be sure that this wasn't just a sign of bigger and worse things to come.
Spurred by the dire predictions of some religious leaders, public attitude degenerated over several days into panic, and at times into chaos; a large economic dip and simultaneous riots in several major cities prompted President Clinton to declare a nationwide state of emergency. Having somebody in control did ease tensions, and as days passed and the world didn't end, the nation calmed back down. At the same time, the media was making instant celebrities of every nonhuman who volunteered to stand in front of a camera.
It was quickly learned that these nonhumans -- who were collectively coined "therianthropes," from the Greek therion (beast) and anthropos (man) -- hadn't just appeared from thin air. (Incidentally, the label "therianthrope" was quickly expanded to include mages, too, although that use of the term is a total misnomer.) They had been born humans, grew up normally, and changed into their new forms at various times during that fateful month. Fears of involuntary transformation were quelled when, almost to a man, the therianthropes the media could reach either admitted knowing of their therianthropy before The Changes started, or indicated they were thrilled with their new form, and in fact had always wished they could be one. Of course, the fact that most theris could shapeshift back to their original human form, thus becoming practically invisible in society, sparked off several witch-hunts -- but that news was prudently suppressed as much as possible, and took some weeks to become common knowledge.
The world was still in awe as the days went on, but the fear was crumbling, bit by bit. Christmas passed without serious incident, and the country stopped holding its collective breath. The state of emergency was rolled back, and the warning cries started dying down to just the far right wing. There was even some talk of how society would have to change to accommodate members of different shapes and sizes.
Then came New Year's Eve
When there's no such thing as dragons or magic spells for your whole life and then one day you can see both with your own eyes, the phenomenon demands an explanation.
Was it always
possible to shapeshift and sling fireballs, and it just never occurred to people to try until a dragon showed up on the news? Many people think so. Some are doubtful -- anyone who dabbled in magic before The Changes will swear that there was an immediate and undeniable shift in December, and that doing the same things the same way suddenly got different results. (The typical rebuttal to them is that they didn't believe their own spells were actually possible until after seeing Redwing -- a point backed up by the way in which The Changes spread.)
Perhaps it was a natural phenomenon? Some say Earth's thaumic poles shifted, or our solar system drifted into a section of the universe where the natural laws are different, or something hit critical mass in the atmosphere. Skeptics counter that any natural phenomenon would have a visible and measurable mechanism, and no such mechanism has been reliably proposed.
Other people blame aliens or an advanced intelligence or a cabal of secret world masters -- all of whom are making the same argument (with different names) as the many Christians who describe it as the will of God. And a few see no rhyme or reason to it, just a random and arbitrary hiccup of the universe.
One early theory -- though it's strenuously denied by the man himself -- is that TheChanges
are all a direct product of CharacterDennisRedwing
and that he himself is what makes it all possible. (One of the failed assassination attempts on his life was allegedly driven by this.) Redwing, for his part, argued in WeWalkAmongYou
that The Changes were Earth itself waking up, and that that process began long before December 1996
(though he "refuses to speculate" when it might have truly started).
Any number of mages, up to and including Redwing, are of the opinion that magic was suppressed for some period of Earth history and TheChanges
marked its return. (After the 2010 discovery of the remains of a primitive dinosaur civilization
, the idea of cyclical Changes gains dramatically in popularity, becoming almost conventional wisdom -- although nobody quite agrees on how often
magic appears and recedes.)
The bottom line is that, by design, there is no "right" answer to this question.
Characters in TTU will subscribe to one of the above theories, or make up their own. (You as a writer are free to speculate on the mechanism; just be aware that any evidence you come up with will be contradicted by other evidence elsewhere in canon.)