Welcome to bookchat where you can talk about anything...books, plays, essays, and books on tape. You don’t have to be reading a book to come in, sit down, and chat with us.
It is not just fantasies and science fiction stories that create worlds for readers. Mysteries do it, too. Non-fiction writers spend a lot of time on research to recreate a world for readers to understand as a backdrop for the true story that is being told.
It is an art to describe things so the reader feels he is walking through that world.
The first story that I wanted to write, as I have said before, turned out to be awful.
But, I learned so much from trying to do it. I wanted to put people into a world that did not want to depend on tech to survive. In fact, they had fled a tech world where a massive computer system ruled.
To create my world I used a large poster board that children use for science fairs and made a map from pictures from magazines. It was a large and colorful collage with the rivers and mountains and prairies all set out. It grew and grew as I added things that belonged in my story…pictures of castles and a maze.
Then I thought wouldn’t it be neat to have a 3-D place where I could move my (way too many) characters around so I could see where they were at any given time. I set up a card table with the basic map on a poster board on the bottom and then added tiny castles and cottages that I had on hand and pewter figures. This was really fun and helpful until my kitty started jumping up and carrying pewter figures off in his mouth and knocking the tiny figures down. I had to put a cover on it and still sometimes a paw sneaked up around the edges and did damage. The project sat there untouched for a long time.
After my sister died, I finally sat down and wrote the story. Over the years since then I have tried various ways of rewriting it, but all attempts have foundered. The story board map came down and the pewter figures were put into a box, too.
So I know the fun of trying to build a world and using it to write. Part of me still thinks I should find a way to bring back my 3-D world and try again. I think that I have grown smarter from practicing on other stories and other worlds.
Books and series that I think have well-drawn worlds (only a few of thousands that I have enjoyed):
The new Kate Elliott series has maps showing a fantasy Europe where England is still attached to the mainland. She also goes to the Caribbean Islands in the second book. There are villages and a city and a spirit world that are all carefully described. The books may have a little too much romance of the type of “I didn’t think I could love him when I was forced to marry him and he is so arrogant” that reminds me of Austen’s Darcy. But I cannot fault the world that she built for the reader to travel in. I actually like the series despite the stock character that is so gorgeous no one would ever think of looking at our heroine…sigh. (I don’t mind some romance, but some things are just repeated too often).
There are aspects of an alternate history with a Napoleon character, but there are also dragons and The Wild Hunt along with mages and shape shifters.
All of Kate Elliott’s books are great at world building. This new series is:
Kelly McCullough (a DKos author) also is great at building worlds that we can believe in. His most recent series is:
I often mention the interesting world of Bren Cameron in C. J. Cherryh’s long running Foreigner series although I have read and loved all of her books and many worlds.
In the wiki discussion she explains how it is done:
She has described the process she uses to create alien societies for her fiction as being akin to asking a series of questions, and letting the answers to these questions dictate various parameters of the alien culture. In her view, "culture is how biology responds to its environment and makes its living conditions better." Some of the issues she considers critical to consider in detailing an intelligent alien race include:The Foreigner World is so rich:
The physical environment in which the species lives
The location and nature of the race's dwellings, including the spatial relationships between those dwellings
The species' diet, method(s) of obtaining and consuming food, and cultural practices regarding the preparation of meals and eating (if any)
Processes which the aliens use to share knowledge
Customs and ideas regarding death, dying, the treatment of the race's dead, and the afterlife (if any)
Metaphysical issues related to self-definition and the aliens' concept of the universe they inhabit
As with many of C. J. Cherryh's novels, this series could be best described as anthropological science fiction, focusing on the interface between our human customs and understandings and that of an alien race whose motivations, thoughts and even feelings are diametrically opposed to our own. Broadly speaking, the series could also be described as Space Opera, especially the second and third story arcs. It also contains elements of political thriller, with the complex racial and cultural interplay between humans and atevi, and between ship crew and colonist.As I said above, mysteries also create a background world for the reader to enjoy.
Like other works, such as the Chanur novels, Cuckoo's Egg and her other alien centered novels, the Foreigner series brings in a peppering of alien names and concepts attached to the language.
The atevi have no feeling of love, but rather man'chi—a loyalty-web to one's leader, one's leader's leader, and so on outward until the Aiji of Shejidan, leader of the aishidi'tat or union of all atevi. Political boundaries are not based on territory, but on association—where their man'chi lies.
Inherent to the mental structure of an atevi is arithmetical ability we would consider intuitive and a world viewed in arithmetical terms. The main atevi language Ragi is a continual mathematic construct. Properly forming statements requires effort similar to a mathematician keeping equations balanced.
Stringently asserted is the idea that the number two to the atevi is disharmonious and as unnerving as fingernails on a chalkboard is to humans. The number three however is "felicitous," and ideas are spoken using felicitous numbers (unless the speaker wishes to convey disharmony or anti-social ideas to their audience).
Another aspect of atevi culture that is critical to the stories, particularly the political thriller aspect, is that assassination is a legal and accepted means of settling disputes, provided proper protocol is followed. One files a document of Intent which liberates the target to file one back. The Assassin's Guild has the right, often exercised when Intent is filed for foolish reasons, to reject a particular filing. For this reason, the assassins' guild (commonly referred to as simply "the guild") has considerable power, despite being supposedly neutral. Assassins are also employed as bodyguards, and often need to defend against attacks by others of their own guild.
Louise Penny’s series began with several books set in the small hard to find village of Three Pines south of Montréal .
The reader learns about several characters in the village. We enjoy sitting down on the bench in the village square and watching their world. We participate in the activities with the villagers. It is wonderful there even when bad things are happening. The books have moved on, now, and I miss Three Pines.
On my wish list is a new book by Steve Hamilton called Let it Burn. Steve’s books are set in the small town of Paradise in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan near Sault Ste. Marie. He also travels down to Detroit once in a while as he will apparently do in this book.
Because I live in Michigan, I am interested in his world building. He mentions the old Tiger Stadium in one story and talks about the locks at the "Soo" in another.
I also have mentioned the small village in France where Martin Walker’s Bruno solves mysteries. There are caves there and vineyards. I like the world as much as I do the character of Bruno. They are inseparable. Bruno has been invited to work in Paris, but he cannot give up his small world…thank goodness.
Andre Camilleri’s Sicily enchanted me, both in the books and in the TV series. Inspector Montalbano, like Bruno, loves his food and that is part of the setting and experience in both series.
For non-fiction, I am a fan of books set in Paris. Paris is the setting for Black Count that I am reading now and in David McCullough’s The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris. Paris is often mentioned in true stories about WW I and WW II.
So many worlds, so little time. :)
Please share your favorite worlds on Earth or in Space or wherever they are.
Diaries of the Week:
Write On! Shall We Dance?
Contemporary Fiction Views: Seriously fantastical stories
Robert Fuller says:
Chapter 20 of The Rowan Tree is up. Bring on the hardcore ballet lovers! As always, I welcome comments and reviews.UPDATE: kainah says:
The audiobook version is available:
The Goodreads Giveaway for three signed paperbacks is still running:
I'm embarking on a new endeavor: editing the memoirs of my father Calvin Fuller who was partially responsible for developing the solar cell at Bell Labs (a major foundation for the silicon revolution).
...my new book, This Far-Off Wild Land: The Upper Missouri Letters of Andrew Dawson came out in late June. I have to thank this group for help with the title -- I came here years ago to fret about the title and tossed out this as a possibility and when it was warmly received, I decided to go with it.NOTE: plf515 has book talk on Wednesday mornings early
So the book is out and it's selling well -- as well as this kind of niche history book can be expected to sell, enough to satisfy Univ of Oklahoma Press so that's good. But I'm annoyed that they couldn't get my sex right and the author blurb on Amazon says:
Lesley Wischmann is a freelance writer specializing in western history and a lecturer for the Wyoming Humanities Council Speakers Bureau. He is also the author of Frontier Diplomats: Alexander Culbertson and Natoyist-Siksina’ among the Blackfeet
I'm a she, for the record. Oh well..... New book. Cool.
by kainah on Wed Aug 21, 2013 at 08:49:32 PM EDT