Note — Jan 17, 2021

If the Aliens Lay Eggs, How Does that Affect Architecture?: Sci-Fi Writers on How They Build Their Worlds

Six authors, including Nnedi Okorafor, Kim Stanley Robinson and Alastair Reynolds, reveal what does, and doesn’t, go into creating their worlds.

I know the world not long after I know the characters. I walk through it, I smell the air, listen to the gossip, observe its insect world, hear its history through various perspectives, and so on … I experience it. […]

When someone thinks they entirely understand the logic of human behaviour, the world-building is very flat, and the shadows that might have given it depth are filled in with the very schematic, simplistic assumptions the world builder assumes are universal truths. […]

Most of my mise en scène starts out real. I rarely need an overview of the economic/industrial base of the fantasy land, because my worlds are usually a direct parody of ours. After that, I think you can increase the illusion of depth by leaving plenty of space for the accidental as you write.