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.
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!
Deep Genre have a good link to the freebies currently available from Tor Books, which includes the whole of Kate Elliot’s Spirit Gate (Crossroads) book. This is becoming very common now amongst publishers, and may seem like a bit of a rash uncommercial move. However, as Cory Doctorow comments, people don’t want to read a whole book online, and will still buy print.
This evening I came across information about Gene Wolfe’s new title due in September – see http://mysite.verizon.net/~vze2tmhh/wolfeblog.html. But then whilst researching Sheridan Le Fanu I also found that he had written a short story with the same name. It will be intriguing to see if there is any link. In the current publicity for the book Lovecraft’s influences are referenced, but not Le Fanu as far as I can see.
The blurb for Wolfe’s book reads:
‘Set a hundred years in the future, An Evil Guest is a story of an actress who becomes the lover of both a mysterious sorcerer and private detective, and an even more mysterious and powerful rich man, who has been to the human colony on an alien planet and learned strange things there. Her loyalties are divided–perhaps she loves them both. The detective helps her to release her inner beauty and become a star overnight. And the rich man is the benefactor of a play she stars in. But something is very wrong. Money can be an evil guest, but there are other evils. As Lovecraft said, “That is not dead which can eternal lie.”‘
Sneaky Mr Wolfe. Am planning to read the short story soon and see if I can detect any possible nods and winks from the blurb on Wolfe’s forthcoming book. More findings soon hopefully!
I’m currently reading Through a Glass Darkly by Sheridan Le Fanu. This is not a novel per se, but a collection of five ghost stories connected by a common narrator – a Dr Hesselius. The stories remind me of some of the ghost stories by Henry James – Turn of the Screw etc, but also of Sherlock Holmes, as they have an almost investigative aspect to them. Often the afore mentioned narrator or even another Dr or priest is trying to find a medical or metaphysical explanation for strange occurences.
I am enjoying the first two stories that I have read so far – there is a good building of tension, which the Jamesian allusive prose adds to.