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World-Building (Science Fiction Writing) [Paperback]

by Stephen L. Gillett, Ben Bova
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)

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Book Description

December 1, 1996 158297134X 978-1582971346
This book is designed to give science fiction writers the solid grounding they need in real science to make their fictions read like fact. World Building is a blueprint in words, calculations, tables and diagrams to help writers transport readers from one world to another.

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Another in Ben Bova's series on Science Fiction Writing, here geologist and SF scribe Stephen Gillett helps you construct star systems and planets from the atoms up. While it may take you a little more than the proverbial seven days (well, six with rest), when you're done, your knowledge of gravity, weather patterns, cosmic mass and stellar patterns--in this universe--will be greatly enhanced. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product Details

  • Series: Science Fiction Writing
  • Paperback: 212 pages
  • Publisher: F+W Media, Inc (December 1, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 158297134X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1582971346
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #266,366 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
78 of 80 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover
"World-Building" is the volume in the Science Fiction Writing Series edited by Ben Bova devoted to constructing star systems and life-supporting planets. Stephen L. Gillett has a doctorate in geology, was the science columnist at "Amazing Science Fiction" and has written SF under a pseudonym. My doctorate is in rhetorical studies, so I am starting at ground zero when it comes to understanding or at least appreciating the mathematical equations for escape velocity, scaling tidal forces or Roche's limit. While this book thoroughly convinced me that I have no aptitude for writing hard science, I can see how it would be extremely helpful to anyone interested in being on a strong scientific foundation when it comes to writing their own stories.
Gillett's volume has eight chapters: (1) Why World-Build? looks at the necessity of using real science to create the requisite sense of wonder in your science fiction writing; (2) The Astronomical Setting covers the important differences between planets and stars in general and gravity, orbits, seasons and tidal action in particular; (3) Making a Planet details how the formation of a planetary system impacts the resulting planets and the options for story writing; (4) The Earth looks at the interconnected aspects that make interesting variations possible with the home worlds you create because of plate tectonics, water and air, magnetic field, colors, etc.
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Worth reading even if you're not a writer June 14, 2000
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
Required reading if you're an aspiring SF Writer. This book provides the basic information needed to design an "authentic" planet that is scientifically consistant. Most of the equations are in sidebars so they can be easily located and entered in a spreadsheet making it easy to try out a variety of scenarios for your planet and its environment. The author has packed lots of information in a small book.
If you find this book useful you will also find "Energies: An Illustrated Guide to the Biosphere and Civilization" (available from Amazon) equally thought provoking and just as useful. While World-Building takes a look at planets in general it does focus on Earthlike planets in particular. Energies takes a wide-ranging look at Earth itself(its biomass, climate, animals and technology) with extensive charts, graphs and equations and fills in some areas where World-Building is thin. The books complement each other amazingly well. In addition, both list other references and resources for additional research.
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28 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unique in its beauty January 5, 2000
By Alex
Format:Hardcover
This is probably the best and only book that clearly states the current understanding of stars and formation/evolution of planets around them, in plain speech. The information is as extensive as it is scientifically accurate which is a great plus for an aspiring fiction writer who does not want to look over the countless pages of an Encyclopaedia Formulae on astrophysics. Besides the numerous formulas one needs to create a (scientifically) cohesive world, Gillett also gives many tidbits from the fiction writing over the course of time, allowing you to become familiar with the possibilities of several future technologies/discoveries. Also included are several studies of fictuous odd-ball worlds ( one is an ocean world filled with sulfuric acid). This book will likely be useful to the writer as well as the explorer within everyone.
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46 of 56 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not what I was hoping for June 1, 2004
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
Despite the book's prestigious author, the title is a bit misleading. Most of the book focuses on "world-building" is not a 'world' per se, but is is meant in the larger sense: planetary/star-system building. I was hoping for more. One of my fiction projects includes "world-building" societies: things like races, religions, language, culture, costume, architecture, flora, government, et al., and the book covers none of that. Although the book itself it good for what it covers, I wish it had a different title that more accurately reflected its content.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wow, I never thought of that! August 14, 2002
Format:Hardcover
Ben Bova has helped to write several books in this series, including Aliens and Alien Societies, Time Travel, and this one, World-Building.
This book gives the science fiction writer the science needed to create worlds on which your stories can unfold. As a scientist myself, I knew much of the information included, but there were more than a few times where I found myself saying "Wow, I never thought of that!".
I'm sure there are a lot of writers out there who aren't scientists like me, and I'm sure they would benefit from having this information so that their worlds will not only be more realistic, they'll be scientifically plausible.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Concise, useful starting point. July 5, 2004
Format:Paperback
The biggest advantage to his book is that it concisely draws together the general facts about stars, planets, and atmospheres that one needs to design the physicality of worlds for hard-science fiction. Though not all encompassing or exhaustive of the subject, there's enough data to enable one to make choices for a world and then research those choices to the depth necessary to meet one's needs without having to become an expert in astrophysics and/or biochemistry.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential Reading for the Would-Be SF Author
In this book you will find the math that will enable you to see whether or not your solar system in which your action will take place is the stuff of legend or the stuff of... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Stephen Mann
5.0 out of 5 stars I look up to Jack L. Chalker, H. Beam Piper, and Larry Niven when it...
Human versus Human is part of the Golden Age, I wanted and often read what was between humans and aliens. It was more exciting and gave way to flights of imagination. Read more
Published 10 months ago by Angello V. Castro
4.0 out of 5 stars Light on details but still useful
When I was a kid of 16 or so, I enjoyed creating my own galaxies, star systems, and planets with my own custom programmed simulations, where planets were basically little circles... Read more
Published 13 months ago by J. S. Harbour
5.0 out of 5 stars Ever wanted to write Science Fiction?
World building is just what it saids. Have you ever want to write Science Fiction? or build your own world to use when you play AD&D? or any other role-playing game? Read more
Published 13 months ago by StarWizard
3.0 out of 5 stars Writing Sci-Fi
For me it was more technical that I wanted as I wanted it for sci-fi/fantasy. Did give some good ideas about where to go to find out science stuff.
Published 15 months ago by coastalkate
4.0 out of 5 stars Keeping SiFi fiction writers REAL
A great resource for any one writing science fiction that wants to stay within the realm of known science. Not for those who have no science background.
Published 15 months ago by Great Pyr
4.0 out of 5 stars More Math than Flesh
This book covers a lot of wordy topics including geology, chemistry, astrogation, astronomy and more. Read more
Published 20 months ago by Richard M. Colletta
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Title
The book arrived as depicted and was in excellent condition. This is an awesome title for anyone that is serious about writing in the science fiction genre as it covers very... Read more
Published on January 6, 2012 by Jasen
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful book
This book provides excellent details about astronomy and the physics of how gravity, orbits, variables that affect planets, and tidal action works. Read more
Published on March 5, 2011 by Judith H. Virta
5.0 out of 5 stars A light lesson in astrophysics and chemistry for "hard SF" writers
This book, written by a sci-fi author with a PhD in geology, is explicitly targeted at science fiction writers and covers world-building: literally. Read more
Published on January 17, 2011 by David
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