Jasper Fforde is a magician.

He's also having a birthday this week, which is how I'm getting away with writing this, even though these paragraphs will read like the gushing diary entry of a smitten prom date.

But mostly, he's a magician. And a juggler. He's in the middle of writing four different series. Not books. Series.

Fforde penned his first novel under the working title Who Killed Humpty Dumpty, but it was published as The Big Over Easy, a referential pun that further legitimizes my unabashed flattery. [Note – Although Easy was Fforde's first written novel, his first published novel was The Eyre Affair.] Easy launched the "Nursery Crime" series, in which pork-fat-phobic detective Jack Spratt investigates the murder of the famous egg (Easy) and porridge smuggling by talking grizzlies (The Fourth Bear) along with his petulent assistant, Mary Mary. In Fforde's mad wonderland, Dumpty is a womanizer, the Gingerbread Man is a serial killer and all of these "Persons of Dubious Reality" live in modern England along with everyone else.

In the "Thursday Next" series, which is actually two seperate series, another, more conventional detective (Next) begins as police officer in a slightly altered reality – neanderthals and dodos are not extinct, blimps and trains are the standard forms of mass transit, the Crimean War is still raging, stalking is a legitimate vocation and literature is the preferred medium of pop culture – before joining "Jurisfiction," an organization that polices the "Bookworld." Next has an unusual ability for a non-character: She can read herself into books and interact with the characters and plots.

In his most recent adult series, "Shades of Grey," Fforde tackles issues of discrimination, drug abuse, political corruption, class warfare (before there was such a term) and "social engineering." In a proximal dystopia, social standing – and everything else – are determined by the spectrum of visual light one can perceive (purples, for example, are the gentry). Fforde uses this arbitrarity with which the Chromatacians have stratified their own society to poke fun at the real world, as he sees it, in a story by turns hilarious and squirmingly insightful.

Apparently not satisfied with reinventing science fiction and metafiction, Fforde is also two books into the "Last Dragonslayer" trilogy of young adult novels, in which he turns his cheeky satire on corporate bargaining, temp agencies and – of course – dragons.

He also publishes regularly on The Toad, has a festival named after him and, in another life, was a filmmaker who worked on such hits as GoldenEye and The Mask of Zorro.

Fforde's universes, though hilariously implausible, are just removed enough from our own to come vibrantly alive in our imaginations. He has mastered the rare art of not only conceiving seamless realities but also making those realities approachable from page one. Each world has its own rules, its own physical reality, but none is so bizarre as to seem thoroughly impossible. It takes no willpower whatsoever to suspend disbelief – the hard part is coming back to our reality from out of Fforde's.

Check him out. And wish him a happy birthday.