There are many millions of parallel universes, each with a different place, a different time, or even a different set of natural laws. Nobody knows who created the Strange Worlds tunnel system, three immensely long tunnels, each containing mysterious doors. The three tunnel systems are designated Yellow, Blue, and Red and intersect at Nexus City. Yellow contains doors to the past, often where history has developed along new paths. The Blue doors connect to future eras. The Red doors connect to locations on a single world where magic works.
Most of the multi-cultural, affluent, even self indulgent inhabitants of Nexus City are concerned with making money, gaining power, or experiencing exotic entertainment -- none more exotic than games, contests, and even combat in the Nexus City Arena. One group -- the Zone Pioneers -- leverages its wealth and power to create a team of children trained to travel the three tunnels rescuing those in need. Zone Pioneers each carry a "Compendium of Useful Information Concerning Our Strange Worlds." These mysterious books help orient and guide Zone Pioneers (and the reader).
Across the many realities, hundreds of young candidates receive invitations to join the Zone Pioneers. All are orphans, all are twelve or thirteen years old, and all share a love for fantastic literature or science fiction. "These Strange Worlds" focuses on six new recruits -- Candidates who have been invited to join the Zone Pioneers during the current 'Phase of Doors.'
Those doors. It always came down to those doors.
Sure, most people knew about the mysterious doors that allowed travel to parallel universes - even if they thought they were just myth or science fiction or reserved for the elite and powerful. But today the stories become real for a chosen few.
Would you open the door?
Amanda Harp seemed destined to be a cheerleader in a backwoods Indiana town - or a Russian prisoner of war.
Constance Carter was just your regular mid 21st Century schoolgirl - when she wasn't exploring crashed flying saucers.
Eric Marsh couldn't wait until the arrival of hundreds of magic weapon buyers - unless there was more to magical wars than selling enchanted arrows.
Anton Wulf had downloaded his favorite comic books, started a small war, and life was good - until his dead father told him it was time to leave Orbital Habitat Peggy
Talks-to-Self just wanted some canned hams - until he was captured by the Quartermen, attacked by pygmy elephants and giant rats, and met a dragon.
Rose loved to sit around reading and dreaming of a date with one of the warriors - just an average day for a teen-aged sea scorpion
All six are invited to join the Zone Pioneers in a life of danger and adventure. But before any of that can happen, they've got to reach them.
Sure, most people knew about the mysterious doors that allowed travel to parallel universes - even if they thought they were just myth or science fiction or reserved for the elite and powerful.
What could go wrong if you just opened a door?
Amanda Harp had never planned anything more complicated than a cheer. Now she was planning a way to stop a nuclear war.
Constance Carter was one of the good guys, right? Maybe even a superhero. Then why was she committing grand theft jet belt?
Eric Marsh didn't have any friends... Not even anyone in town is own age. Now he had five instant friends. If only he didn't also seem to have six instant enemies.
Anton Wulf was a loner, a rebel, and loved nothing more than a quiet afternoon of reading. How did he end up as leader of a runaway Zone Pioneer hexagon?
Talks-to-Self thought he was doing just fine. He was learning about books, and listening to music, and even finding a way to deal with talking animals. Why did he have to learn to ride a horse too?
Rose the teen-aged sea scorpion was supposed to be thoughtful and methodical. That was hard as she rolled down the side of Meteor Crater fighting a giant.
All six were invited to join the Zone Pioneers in a life of danger and adventure. Then the trouble really began.
The Zone Pioneers are ready to start training. Right after they get back from settling a few grudges.
What could be simpler than stopping World War 4?
Amanda Harp was back home. She had some things to settle with her boy friend... and the Russian base in Kentucky.
Constance Carter had it all figured out. Just buy some anti-missile lasers and stash them in ancient Australia. She wasn't expecting to meet anything but a kangaroo.
Eric Marsh needed some magic lessons and the place to learn turned out to be the Roman Empire. His friends ended up in the arena fighting lions. And they could be the lucky ones.
Anton Wulf agreed to help save America, and all he wanted in return were some vintage comic books. The Americans had other ideas. First he had to escape from the Unreality Battlelab itself.
Talks-to-Self was making friends everywhere, including the animal kingdom. But would talking to lions help in the Coliseum of the Three Temples?
Rose the teen-aged sea scorpion wasn't sure which was worse... Captured by the Romans and made to fight bears, or disguised by the Bluespring Academy Glee Club Decorating Committee? At least the bears fought fair.
The six were supposed to help rescue those in need in the Strange World. They were just supposed to follow the rules. maybe that's why the Zone Pioneer Guides, the Tech Cops, the Unreality Battlelab and even the county sheriff were all trying to take them down. And they hadn't even met the Russians yet.
Operation Kentucky Derby is on... Just as soon as somebody does something about those pesky Russian nukes.
The Zone Pioneers are invading Kentucky
Amanda Harp needs to decide whether to rescue her brother or help her team neutralize the Spetsnaz nuclear net. But what if she can't do both?
Constance Carter thought she was beginning the ride of her life... Until she saw Russia's secret weapon. Can she rescue her team when the forces of three universes are gunning for her?
Eric Marsh finds himself lost and alone deep in Mammoth Cave, his team mate dying and the Russians closing in. The only thing that could make the situation worse is if Injun Joe's ghost turns out to be real.
Anton Wulf figures he can sneak into the Russian motor pool complete his mission, and sneak out... All before lunch. Now he has to decide whether the best way to defeat the Russians is to repair their most powerful weapon.
First Talks-to-Self lost his monkey. Then he was captured by the Russians. Worst of all, Zone Pioneers are fighting Zone Pioneer and he has some decisions to make.
Rose wasn't like other sea scorpions. She was impulsive, friendly, and curious... But even she agreed that Panzerscorps don't fly. Until now?
The six have planned, schemed, and even fought for the chance to save Amanda's home reality. No plan survives contact with the enemy... But how did things go wrong so fast. As competing Hexagons, the Unreality Battlelabs, and even their own guide enters the fight they reach a horrible realization. Could victory be much much worse than defeat?
Its Zone Pioneer versus Zone Pioneer in the Strange World Arena. Some people play Treasure ball for the prizes. Some play for fame and glory. Some just play for fun. The Half Moon Hex and the Castle Hex play for custody of a Russian atomic bomb and the very future of the Strange World.
Would you open the door?
Amanda Harp was never very competitive... But the meanest Zone Pioneer ever will turn Medieval Italy nuclear power unless she can win Treasure Ball.
Constance Carter has a new friend who happens to be a boy. How could it work out when he's a peasant from colonial India... And his world's first rocket man.
Eric Marsh has been told he's no good at magic spells all his life. Treasure Ball is his chance to show everyone they're wrong. Unfortunately, this may be one of those cases where everyone was right.
Anton Wulf lone Pioneers, and he loved his team mates, and he loved Treasure Ball. But why did he have a bad feeling about the game?
Talks-to-Self was having a horrible day and nobody knew why... Least of all Talks himself.
Rose was stronger and faster and a lot more durable than just about anyone. She should easily win Treasure Ball... unless she has to face off with the universe's largest girl.