This page is about how the name and setting of "The Tomorrowlands Universe" came to be -- and where TTU is going, what the grand vision is. It will be very little help if you're looking to understand how the setting works. For a summary of the actual story universe, see IntroductionToTTU.
It all started one day in late 1996 ...
Well, actually, while that's true for TheChanges, TTU's grand beginning was a little more subtle. It actually began in September 1997, with the words "Somewhere in a parallel universe ..."
It all started, to be honest, as a joke. The setting was mere backdrop for a story intended to be a one-shot parody of myself and my mage group. From there, TTU has taken a long and winding path to its current incarnation -- a serious look at a world that might have been, a world where something threw Earth a sudden loop. A world where real people try to react to fear, uncertainty, and the dreams that didn't quite turn out like they planned.
It didn't quite turn out like I'd planned, either. The then-unnamed world was too much fun to write in; CharacterAsh and his merry band of troubleshooters had a lot more potential than I'd been able to explore. But those first characters were based on real people, and I didn't feel comfortable continuing their stories directly. So the world next returned as the setting of a modern retelling of the Persephone myth I wrote for a Greek literature class.
CharacterAsh narrated that one, too. For a few years, that defined things. I just called it the "World of Ash" when I needed a folder name to collate the stories I'd written. I started fleshing it out around him, intending to have him narrate everything, thinking he'd remain the focal point. The world had other ideas.
As Ash transformed from a comic character to a dramatic figure, and from an exaggerated self to a different man with different formative experiences, his friends and settings grew to where their own stories had to be told. The arbitrary nature of the original world fell away and its timeline shaped itself among quietly pondered "What if"s. Elements like the Mafia takeover of the U.S. government vanished; certain defining events like EventTheFlyby took their place. Bit by bit, the world took shape as a place that could have happened, if only we'd taken that screaming left turn at the reality crossroads back in 1996.
(As an aside, the date of TheChanges was arbitrarily chosen for authorial convenience. Back in the "World of Ash" days, I wanted to fudge the timeline so that he'd be at a specific age when the big event hit. Since the original parody-Ash was based on me, that locked TheChanges down to 1996. I settled on December later, after realizing that I didn't want to deal with the conceptual hassle of it influencing 1996's presidential election.)
Cut back to the real world. When I started searching for a domain name in 1999, I knew I wanted to register one that I'd be proud of and be able to use throughout my life. A vanity domain named after me seemed too gauche, so after some brainstorming I settled on something a little more metaphysical. "The Tomorrowlands" seemed to be a great name for my webspace, a place ripe with possibilities and ideas and a place to capture the potential of the young-but-blossoming Internet.
I believe I first called the "World of Ash" setting "The Tomorrowlands Universe" for convenience, because I needed a name that was bigger than my character when I first made the setting public. It was no longer about him; it was about something he was only an incidental part of. My website's name seemed like a natural fit.
It became "TTU" instead of "TU" because at the time I was associating with other writers on a mailing list about transformation stories. "TU" was already in use there and I didn't want to cause confusion if those writers decided to set something in my universe.
By the time the TTU setting went online, it was pretty much in its current form. But it continues to grow, and I can't imagine renaming it now that I've thought of it as TTU for so long.
I'll write this section later.
"TTU" is both a noun and an adjective: "My TTU character obviously lives within TTU."
The first T in TTU stands for "the," so a phrase like "the TTU website" is technically wrong. However, nobody likes a grammar nazi, and anyways there really isn't a palatable alternative: "I went to TTU website" sounds like it was typed by monkey, and breaking up the acronym to make "I went to the TU website" is f*cked UBAR.
Do avoid "the TTU universe", which makes Baby Acronym Jesus cry. "The TTU setting" is OK.