Worldbuilding

Five More Underused Settings in Spec Fic

A skeleton facing a strange stone statue.

Novelty is one of the four critical elements that make stories popular, and in speculative fiction, settings are a great place to harvest a novelty crop. I’ve got nothing against castles, forests, and space battleships, but mixing things up creates opportunities for new kinds of … read more »

Siege Warfare Before Gunpowder

The fantasy genre is stuffed with sieges, even in series other than Lord of the Rings! From the Battle of Winterfell to whatever Prince Caspian was doing at Aslan’s How, fantasy storytellers are always eager to show us battles of catapults and scaling ladders. But sieges are complicated, … read more »

How Can I Combine Fantasy and Science Fiction Elements?

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How do I mix magic and science fiction tech without it feeling haphazard or unbalanced? – Anon Hi Anon, From a storytelling standpoint, magic and scifi tech are nearly identical except for theming. If you’re not careful with things that feel different in theme, it … read more »

How to Make Time Travel Logical

It’s often assumed that time travel would break the laws of logic. However, according to some philosophers, most famously the late David Lewis, this need not be the case. Scifi is full of time-travel stories that are fun, exciting, and gripping while breaking the laws … read more »

How Do Cannons Affect Your Naval Combat?

Recently, I went over the naval tactics your characters might use in a world without gunpowder. This raises the natural question, what happens when gunpowder is introduced? As you might imagine, the answer is complicated. Gunpowder isn’t a single toggle switch. There are hundreds, possibly … read more »

Can I Create Conflict Without Bigotry?

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Hi! Sorry to spam your inbox. I promise to get it out of my system! With the goal of creating a fantasy world in which the forms of oppression and discrimination we see in our world and history are absent, I am pretty sure I … read more »

Can I Rehabilitate the Trope of East Meets West?

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One of the lasting tropes from 20th-century pulp fiction is of the city where “East meets West,” places like Shanghai and Hong Kong. There’s a romanticism to that idea of a wealthy, cosmopolitan, dangerous city where the rules aren’t quite what you’d expect—but obviously all … read more »

Choosing Naval Tactics for Your Pre-Gunpowder World

A reconstructed galley hull in a museum.

A while back, I wrote about the trials and tribulations of traveling by water. That’s enough for some stories, but let’s face it, this is speculative fiction. Sooner or later, you’ll want to write about violent clashes on the high seas. Naval combat changes drastically … read more »

How Can I Make My World Accommodating to Disabled People?

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I am writing a non-magical fantasy story set in a low-tech world that is primarily composed of city-states with limited regional authority. I am trying to work out what kinds of seemingly realistic accommodations could/would be in place for disabled people. Culturally, I am trying … read more »

How Do I Create a Monster School?

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Hello. I’m currently working on a newish story idea that I only recently figured out the plot for, which has made me realize that I ought to work on setting more. The story involves another “magic school”-esque setting, but different in that it’s a school … read more »

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