This piece of research about ADHD genes in Kenyan nomads shows that certain genes that might be less suitable in a settled culture are actually beneficial in a nomadic setting. Apparently the behaviour associated with ADHD can lead to nomads being more effective in fighting off raiders and finding food and water.
My current writing research concentrates on a nomadic civilisation so this was of interest to me!
An excellent discussion of why the printed page is still important by Robert Darnton – I saw this referenced over at Deep Genre.
Apparently according to Survival International there are 100 uncontacted tribes existing still in the world – mostly in the area of Brazil and Peru. I found the story over at TED. It makes you think doesn’t it!? Also I was wondering about the possibilities of this as a story idea? The problem is most people wouldn’t believe it!
But this picture taken from a flyover of one of these tribes is very evocative:
I found this story from The Economist interesting about a new research project into the biological basis of religion. As part of my world-building exercise this is quite a fascinating subject as I come to grips with the cultural background of my world’s peoples, which includes their religions. In fact I have decided that religious differences will play an important part and mostly leading to violence.
Here’s a quote from the research project’s brochure “Leading experimental psychologists and biologists have suggested that man’s universal religious consciousness results from innate characteristics in the evolved cognitive architecture of the brain. In contrast, the differences stem from variable priming of the cognitive mechanisms through creative thinking, memory and acquired expertise.”
So it seems that humans are biologically predisposed to be religious, or at least believe in something I suppose! I’m an athiest, but must admit that I find religions and their attendant cultural systems very interesting.
I am currently working on the creation of a fantasy world for an upcoming fantasy novel. Having surveyed a lot of the literature and websites regarding world creation I found the following most useful:
Creating an Earthlike Planet – this really takes you through most of the process of creating geography, weather and climates. In particular his section on weather is a well explained, simple but invaluable – see his Climate Cookbook.
Also a useful reference for climates are the Koppen classifications, see http://koeppen-geiger.vu-wien.ac.at/
Once you have your climate’s sorted out it’s time to think about how these affect culture. I think this is more difficult, perhaps because there’s no accepted historical interpretation – i.e. it’s quite controversial still – see Jared Diamond’s Guns, Germs and Steel.
Culture creation is probably where you have to read around a lot and figure stuff out for yourself. I found that I had to create language alongside. There are a number of good websites on language creation. I would recommend the following:
The Language Construction Kit – includes all the aspects of language creation you are likely to need. I found that having a core 500 or so words was necessary to cover major nouns, verbs and adjectives.
Ardalambion is a site dedicated to the constructed languages of J.R.R. Tolkien. This is really inspirational and shows what can be done.
I strongly believe creating your own languages for your fantasy world can really enrich them. In my novel I am looking for my characters and cultures to have strong identities that are not based on slightly altered version of medieval earth. We’ll see if I achieve my aim!