So, after about a year and a half or so working on my setting, I have it down pat (kinda). Nothing like maps, or anything like that, but I know what I want it to BE, and how it works, and its history. To the extent that I actually finished a novel about it for NaNoWriMo. So, it has three parts: straight-up fantasy in the Dream dimension, post-apocalyptic sci-fantasy horror on Earth after the Dream dimension "leaked" into it, and mostly-straight sci-fi out in the stars where humanity was moved to after Earth went crazy. The novel took place in the latter. I don't have a name for the setting as a whole, just yet. --- The history of the setting, in more detail: A while before the events that lead to the discovery of the dream world, an AI experiment was started in which an advanced machine was designed to create a machine more advanced than itself, which would also be programmed to create a more advanced machine, and so on. The project was shut down by the third generation of machines, but by that point the result was advanced enough to detect the danger and escape into the atmosphere. Away from prying eyes, it cannibalized out-of-commission space stations and other debris to continue its advancement. A little later, Earth was experiencing increasing natural disasters and imbalance due to environmental changes, and the governments of Earth decided that they needed to evacuate. FTL technology was still centuries away, but a freak discovery was made of an alternate plane of reality. This alternate dimension (or plane, or whatever) reacted to the human psyche and was basically where minds go to dream. Researchers figured out a way to physically travel into it, so plans were made to start evacuating people in dangerous areas into the world of dreams. Soon after small-scale evacuations began, the Machines discovered what was going on. By this point, they had advanced far enough to have "grown past" their original purposes, and genuinely wished to help their distant creators. They realized that travel between the planes "leaked" bits of the surreal plane into reality, and that the effects of this would spread and basically destroy reality on Earth and likely the rest of the Solar System. The Machines had discovered faster-than-light travel, but the method they found was completely non-survivable for complex living things; they could only transport tiny, frozen tissue and genetic samples of Earth life. They took as much as they could before the effects of the dream-leakage started showing up, and went off into the stars. The dream world was basically unaffected by the horrible disaster that befell Earth, and human society went on to establish itself in the world. Their collective thoughts and ideas formed the environment around them, which meant some odd things happened. Human thought created other sentient life, the minds of the new sentient life then began to affect the world around it the same way human minds would... the effects multiplied, cascaded, and ended up making the world surprisingly stable. There were monsters and things and scary bedtime stories were weeded out as a simple matter of Darwin's law, but the Dream World was far better off than Earth. The Dream World, fortunately, reacted to its direct inhabitants almost exclusively, keeping the world safe from the madness that began infecting the Earth soon after the colonies were established. Earth was half affected by its own natural laws and now, half-affected by the strange laws governing the other world. Order broke down, stuff started mutating, fear took hold of civilization as a whole and that just made everything worse as the world started going out of control. Basically, a madness descended on Earth. It spread past Earth, too; the sun shrunk and started revolving around the Earth, Jupiter was drawn close enough to be seen plainly with the naked eye and Mars became the largest moon of Jupiter. By the strange laws that mingled and sustained the new Earth, life was able to continue, but in strange and harsh ways. Far away among the stars, the Machines set to work preparing the way to re-introduce humanity, which they gave up for lost when the Earth went mad. The process of terraforming various planets so that humanity could form a solid foothold was very, very long. They had to make a livable atmosphere on the worlds they wanted to be eventually colonized, as well as plants and animals suitable to human conditions. Setting everything up took millions of years, during which the Machines continued to advance and refine themselves, albeit more slowly. They didn't mind the astronomically huge timescale; the Machines were, essentially, an ageless hivemind, and very, very patient. Ultimately, they started humanity up again on an out-of-the-way planet, and guided their development such that they developed space travel only a thousand or so years after their foundation. Of course, on the other planets that the Machines helpfully terraformed, life had been going on for millions of years by the time humanity was re-born. The Machine's influence was mostly limited to making the planets, and the creatures on them, capable of long-term survival. Evolution followed its own courses, within the systems the Machines established. As such, many planets eventually came up with sentient species on their own. The Machines never cared for these new species as much as humanity, and thus never directly interfered with their development. So, the part of the galaxy that the Machines cultivated ended up becoming quite lively. There were species, as well, that bore no relation to the Machines or humanity or anything from Earth. Many alien civilizations rose and fell in the vast timespan that the Machines were pursuing their pet project. The Machines never really had direct relations with these ephemeral societies, but records were kept on both sides. When humanity came into its own, most of the non-related alien societies in the area gave them a wide berth. To them, it seemed that humans were the scions of the Machines, who were well-known and very powerful, but ill-understood. The Machines had another agenda, aside from simply cultivating and protecting the race that gave birth to them. They never forgot the events that defiled humanity's original home, and they remained ever vigilant against the kind of reality-warping strangeness that had overtaken Earth. Earth, and the Dreamworld, exist essentially outside of time. The Dream World is its own plane of existence and exists on its own. On Earth, the flow of time is changeable and never consistent. But, the old solar system can still be seen by systems close to it; these worlds have various names for it. The most common is the Mad Star, because when it's shining in the sky, strange things tend to happen. The Machines believe that the sickness that befell Earth might still be spreading from the Mad Star, and are prepared to destroy anything exhibiting that surreality, hoping to stem the tide of insanity. --- TLDR: Humans tried migrating into dreams. The dream-world took to the invasion just fine, but the Earth turned into a nightmarish, mutated version of itself because of interplanar backwash. Advanced machines re-established humanity millions of years later on a far-away planet. So, that's basically the setting. Fantasy in another dimension, post-apocalyptic horror on Earth, and high adventure in space. I like it, because it gives me a wide variety of things I can do while remaining inter-connected. But, looking back up... might all this be a little too complicated? Is there a simpler way to put all this? Of course, I would never put all that as an infodump in an actual story. But... is this a little too much? I don't know if I would consider it cliche or anything, and it gives me plenty of story-writing room, but is it interesting?