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World-Building (Science Fiction Writing) Paperback – December 1, 1996

ISBN-13: 978-1582971346 ISBN-10: 158297134X Edition: 1ST

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Product Details

  • Series: Science Fiction Writing
  • Paperback: 212 pages
  • Publisher: F+W Media, Inc; 1ST edition (December 1, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 158297134X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1582971346
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.5 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #79,116 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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.

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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See all 42 customer reviews
The detail in the book is very good.
Jvstin
This book provides excellent details about astronomy and the physics of how gravity, orbits, variables that affect planets, and tidal action works.
Judith H. Virta
A great resource for any one writing science fiction that wants to stay within the realm of known science.
Great Pyr

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

82 of 84 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on April 21, 2001
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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24 of 24 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 14, 2000
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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29 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Alex on January 5, 2000
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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51 of 62 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 1, 2004
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 By chemikalguy on 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 By Liam Sauer-wooden on 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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