Chapter and multiverse

In Toby Mundy's review of Dermot Healy's excellent-sounding Sudden Times (Books, 15 November), he mentions that "some physicists now think that the entire cosmos comprises millions of such universes and have coined the term 'multiverse' to describe these spaces that co-exist but are subject to alternative laws".

Flattering as it is to have this conception adopted by physicists, I think it worth pointing out that I coined the term "multiverse" to describe exactly that notion in 1961 in a story called "The Sundered Worlds", published in Science Fiction Adventures magazine. This is accepted as the first time the word was used to describe the idea and is well documented (cf Clute's Encyclopaedia of Science Fiction) and discussed. I talk about it in the introduction to the Penguin edition of the book published in 1992. I have since developed the idea in more sophisticated literary fiction.

Others, including William James and John Cowper Powys, had also invented the term (see OED), but to describe different ideas, so it never entered the common vocabulary. My use of the term became popular mainly via science fiction readers and role-playing game-players, many of whom doubtless grew up to become physicists . . .

Michael Moorcock
Lost Pines, Texas, USA

This article first appeared in the 29 November 1999 issue of the New Statesman, An explosion of puffery