Warning: This is a really long post.
One specific detail jumped out at me from the recently released Book 3. If you haven't finished it yet, don't read this, obviously. Also, my apologies if the theories and thoughts here have already been pointed out. I didn't find them in a brief search, and I'm very curious to hear others' responses to this, so I'm posting this thread.
The detail that jumped out to me was the fact that when Zoe uses the Dreamachine, her body disappears. Red Thread has gone to the trouble of pointing this out to us by having Zoe specifically say that it will appear as if she is still there and asleep--and then, instead, she vanishes.
As Dreamfall players will remember, this is not how Dreaming normally works. Before, every time Zoe Dreamed herself into Arcadia, her physical body remained in Stark, appearing comatose. This is confirmed by Charlie in DF. Instead of travelling physically to Arcadia, like April does, it would appear that Zoe creates a kind of "dream projection" of herself in Arcadia--albeit a very material projection, which can interact with the world, feel pain and other sensations, etc. But as Charlie points out to us, the physical body that she normally inhabits remains in Stark. In fact, there's only one time we see Zoe actually disappear--when she leaves Arcadia, to wake back up in the real world. Na'ane postulates that Zoe's vanishing is a sign that she was never completely in Arcadia in the first place.
But this time, when Zoe travels to Arcadia, she disappears from Stark. The most obvious conclusion here would seem to be that her actual physical body is not in Stark at all--and hasn't been, for the entirety of Dreamfall Chapters. This probably isn't the only explanation for the disappearance, but it is strengthened by other things: Zoe has been told more than once that she needs to "wake up", Queenie claims that Zoe is not completely here and is starting to fade, and most recently, Zoe herself thought she was starting to disappear when in the warehouse in Book 3. It seems likely, then, that although Zoe believes she is physically in Stark, she is in reality Dream-projecting herself into Stark in much the same way that she Dream-projected herself into Arcadia during Dreamfall.
And that leads to a very obvious question: If Zoe's body is not in Stark...where is it? I've been wracking my brain today examining various possibilities, all of which have some merits and some serious flaws. I'm going to post a few of the ideas here and see what others think.
Possibility One: Zoe's body is in Arcadia: This was the first possibility that occurred to me. It would make a great plot twist: Zoe thinks, when she puts on the Dreamachine, that she is Dreaming herself into Arcadia, as she did during Dreamfall. But in reality, she's been in Arcadia the whole time, Dreaming herself into Stark, and now she's waking up. It has the appeal of the "Bruce Willis has been dead for the whole movie" realization at the end of the film Sixth Sense (oh...uh...spoiler alert...). I really like this idea a lot, but it has some serious (and obvious) problems. The first one is this: if Zoe's body is in Arcadia, how did it get there? She's not a Shifter. Travelling between worlds, as Brian Westhouse taught us, is extremely difficult without the ability to Shift. And she never physically leaves Stark during Dreamfall--so was her body moved there while she was in a coma? If so, why? And how did no one notice she was missing? Was she Dream-projecting a coma version of herself into Stark? And then there's a second major problem: why has no one in Arcadia noticed her body? It would presumably have been lying in the Journeyman Inn this whole time, since that's where she "wakes up"...but Crow has been there for a little while and hasn't seen her. And even though the Journeyman's been closed for a while, it seems odd that no one would ever know there was a woman sleeping in there. Awesome as this plot twist would be, I'm having a hard time seeing how it would work.
Possibility Two: Zoe's body IS in Stark, but Zoe's not in it: Ok, bear with me a moment. Maybe Zoe didn't really "wake up" from the coma like she thinks she did. Maybe she tried to, but what really happened is that she Dream-projected herself back to Stark without actually waking up. So her body is still in the hospital, while the projection of her mind is running around Stark, just as material as when she was running around Arcadia in DF. It's a little convoluted, I know, but if you think about it, it makes just as much sense as her actually waking up from the coma like she believes she did. The major problem here is the same as the second problem I mentioned in the last one, though: why has no one noticed her body still sitting in the hospital? Why wasn't there ever a point where Gabriel said, "Hey, uh, Zoe...there appear to be TWO of you now?" It seems unfeasible. Still, it's less problematic (albeit more complicated) than her body being in Arcadia.
Possibility Three: Zoe's body is in the Storytime: Maybe when Zoe "woke up" from her coma, what really happened is that she Dream-projected herself into Stark, and her projection of herself swapped places with her physical body--so that her physical body would go to the Storytime. This theory has the benefit that we don't have to worry about why no characters in the game notice the body. The only person who could notice is the Vagabond, and more importantly, we haven't seen him or the Storytime since Zoe left it. But this theory has a different problem, and that is...why? Why would Zoe's body swap places with her projection? There's no basis in the story so far for such a swap. Is there some rule that says a Dreamer's body and her "Dream projection", as I've been referring to it, can't be in the same world at the same time? Maybe, but if so, that's never been told to us. Also, this theory is...I don't know, just less cool. I like the idea that Zoe's body has been in Arcadia the whole time, or in a hospital bed in Stark. But the idea that her body is in the Storytime, and she's Dreaming her way home...it's just not as interesting, but maybe that's subjective.
Possibility Four: Zoe's body is somewhere not revealed yet: Maybe she's in some world we haven't seen yet. But, aside from the fact that that still doesn't explain how she got there, that would be the lamest plot twist idea yet.
So, that's what I've come up with. Thoughts?