World-building is an important exercise, even outside of speculative fiction. Authors need to decide where to set their story, and if they use a fictional town or city, it still has to feel real. Still, for me, I find more work goes into the world-building when the first step is “decide what world I want to use.” (This is true for both fantasy and science-fiction, of course.) Continue reading
Different, or secondary, worlds are a defining feature of epic fantasy. They are elsewhere, somewhere fantastic and magical, sometimes reached by a portal (like Narnia), sometimes existing on their own without connection to our world.
Secondary worlds are internally consistent, no matter how different from our world they might be — dragons and fireballs, shapeshifters, other races, water breathers, magic wands, kingdoms that last for millennia still ruled by the same family, form-fitting breastplate for women warriors that doesn’t directly lead to their demise — the list can go on and on. All that matters is that it be Other and make sense within itself.
Each of the authors I’ve already talked about this month excel in creating new worlds for us to visit, and there are more coming. The secondary world is compelling, immersive, complete in the ways it surrounds the characters and they interact with it — but it is not necessarily somewhere we’d want to actually be. I wouldn’t be too comfortable in Joe Abercrombie’s world or George R. R. Martin’s. I’m not even sure I’d fare that well in Middle-Earth. But I can visit these places when I read and feel as though I am in a different world, a world created for my enjoyment.
Well, more likely for the author’s, but at least I get to visit.
This is a post for the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge. My theme is epic fantasy, and blog posts will cover authors, books, tropes, themes, or anything else I can think of to fill the alphabet. Check out some of the other bloggers participating or follow my blog by e-mail if you like what you’ve read.