Creating a world is one of the most satisfying perks of writing scifi/fantasy. The task can be as simple as inserting an individual or race into contemporary society or as complex as creating multiple societies with multiple species on a distant planet.
It is not, however, an easy task. Consider archaeologists looking back on the past. Archaeologists process what they discover using the scientific method, a linear (methodical) way of observing, investigating, interpreting and explaining data. Their conclusions, however, may reveal only an infinitesimal piece of the real, sometimes nonlinear, puzzle that is the past. It’s difficult to determine paleolithic or neolithic worldviews that differ immeasurably from the modern world where logic and the scientific method hold sway.
At times, researchers allow their own values to color their interpretations. Check out the Venus figure (above, right) that some researchers referred to as “pornographic.” The description says more about the researcher than the creator of the object. My own avatar (right) across the internet is, at over 20,000 years old, one of the oldest faces of a human female (the rest of the body is missing). Is she a religious object, good luck charm, fertility object, or a portrait of someone’s beloved wife, chieftain, or shaman?
Authors, however, can allow their own imaginations free rein when creating a world. They can fill it with their own visions, values, beliefs, and prejudices. Regardless of what is being created, certain questions common to all societies and cultures must be addressed by the author. What is the society’s explanation of the world? Where are they heading (the future)? What should they do (ethics and values)? How should they attain our goals? What is true and false (knowledge)? Where did they come from (origins)?
Next week we’ll look at myths and legends. Rita Bay (ritabay.com)