- Series: Science Fiction Writing Series
- Hardcover: 198 pages
- Publisher: Writers Digest Books; First Edition edition (January 1, 1996)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0898797071
- ISBN-13: 978-0898797077
- Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 0.8 x 9.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 51 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #801,638 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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World-Building (Science Fiction Writing Series) First Edition Edition
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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.
About the Author
Stephen L. Gillett is a research associate at the Mackay School of Mines, University of Nevada, Reno.
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But, I am also a gamer, as I alluded to. And if you are interested in writing in-game content for video games, or even creating a video game of your own, I strongly recommend you pick up a copy of this book. It's easy to read, fun, engaging, and humorous. Most of all, though, it will provide an entry- intermediate level course in world-building - one that really does contain practical, useful information. I can't recommend this book highly enough.
What happens if you're designing a world powered by a larger sun? A smaller, brighter sun? How does it affect everything from orbit to color? What's the point of plate tectonics, anyway? All of these questions are answered with excruciating detail (and a significant amount of math!). If you're looking for something a little bit more generalized, you might want to grab a collection of Asimov essays, because this book takes you waaaaay down the rabbit hole.
On the plus side, writers looking for a serious exploration of what makes a planet habitable can't do much better than this book. Even if you don't plan on putting human beings on this planet (or want to give your human characters a real survival challenge), you'll find a ton of scientific explanations for different possibilities for life on planets that don't have the same atmospheric composition as earth's.
Which you should. Other than stories firmly in the fantasy mold, SF readers expect anything you say about real universe things to obey real universe physics.
Even if you do not need to know how your planet dances around its star (but beware making bold statements about the weather and seasons if you *don't*) you will perhaps need to know how far away the horizon of your stage appears to your leading actors.
You get the equations to help you sort it all out but no tedious derivation - think of this as a cheat sheet for SF writers. You get explanations in brief of what governs the factors you will be playing with when you set your stage, enough to whet your appetite if you have any feel for the genre at all. You get references to steer you onward to more detail and depth if you want it.
And tanjit, making feasible worlds is just plain good SF fun. There's fun to be had from a Barsoom, Trenko or Dying Earth to be sure, and I've devoured stories set on all of those, but none of those worlds *work* and so cannot be explored in any manner other than within the confines of plot. What you will be able to do with this book is build a real (albeit imaginary) world, set it spinning in a real (ibid) solar system and then see what happens.
Harlan's World, Helliconia Spring/Summer/Winter, Ringworld were all set on such carefully built worlds, and were the better for it. Were they perfect? No, but they were convincing enough that few noticed the duct tape.
I plan on using this to build a couple of places central to a space opera RPG, where the players will be spending much time. If I ever get around to writing real stories It'll be essential.