In the footsteps of Hemingway I thought a good step while trying to decide what to do with the Creating a World section would be to give a few short stories.
Baby is born, dies, declares war.
Mother’s son, Mother’s pride, Mother’s murderer.
Empty valley, flood, bodies floating away.
Fantasy is a huge genre, but with few exceptions (“The Iron Dragon’s Daughter” comes to mind) there are very few fantasy worlds that have any sort of modern setting, and even less of these feature a world that develops over time. However, the world of Arathria will evolve over time; the mythos of the world will expand from a primitive state all the way into a futuristic setting. However, the bulk of the stories about the world will be about a clichÃ©d medieval period. It will be done this way to allow a complete universe to form. There must be a beginning, middle and end to create a full mythos.
Most other fantasy worlds focus on a single time period (plus or minus a few generations) and are sprinkled heavily with references to the ancient past where things more fantastic and mythical happened. However, I hate how this is done. Why say that this and that happened but not show its repercussions? By allowing the world to evolve over time you can jump in your story from one point to another, and in doing so, you not only show what happened but also show how it evolved. Similarly if you wanted to know about the origins of Western culture, you would have to examine Roman and Greek cultures because the personalities of the Greek and Roman periods have as much effect on the creation of Western Culture as the personalities of the 1400′s.
Furthermore, this must be done to create a world that does not just display itself to the reader but also entwines them so much that after putting the book down and walking away they have to remind themselves that the events were all fiction. Just as one tends to be a little more cautious after watching a convincing horror movie.
As it is the Arathria world will be based on both science and fantasy. I, personally, can’t completely ignore science when creating a world. Yes, there will be magic and such, but the world does not just magically appear one day. There must be a beginning. As such the world will start with a bang. Something (revealed later) will jar the world from an animalistic balance and force the intelligent denizens to suddenly cope with changes that will fuel the world’s progression into the future beginning with the creation of towns, cities, nations and empires. The world will form into empires extremely quickly to demonstrate the shear force of the change, but will slow down to create a “dark” age that will last far longer than the real dark age. In doing so, we will be able to show both the power of change and then the stagnation of a society that has come too far too quickly. Giving us the ability to ask: What happens when everything that has been created is the product of a hundred generations ago?
Of course there will be some changes and the society will progress into the technological stage. The differences here between this world and the real world is that science is blended with fantasy so many things that are not possible in the real world are possible and vise versa. Time will continue to progress through a “space age” where the petty conflicts of the world become petty conflicts across the stars. This will allow us to demonstrate the inbred racial conflicts that can occur and how prejudices hang on long after they make little to no sense.
Over these periods we will see snapshots of individuals and events. In doing so we can get a glimpse into the group mind that will allow us to know the very thought processes that are used to decide the future.
One thing that I have always loved about C.S. Lewis’s book The Lion, The Witch, And The Wardrobe is the fact that animals are intelligent. In a children’s fantasy book this is easy because you don’t really have to explain why people sit down at the table and start chewing on something that was singing and dancing not so long ago. Unfortunately, without the explanations there is a gaping hole in the thought process behind the book.
For example, in the real world baby chickens are cute and most people wouldn’t choose to eat one just for that reason. However, how many people would eat chicken if it was not only once a baby chicken but could also sing and dance? Humans tolerate eating them because, after all, they are animals. However, once that chickadee looks up at someone and says “Are you my mommy?” they wouldn’t eat it no matter how old it got. My solution to this is to have my cake and eat it too. Yes, there will be intelligent animals; but, there will also be non-intelligent animals.
Intelligence is not a definitive trait. Not all humans in the world will be intelligent — they will just be glorified animals. How can you get away with this? Easy. Think of a creature about to be born, if X and Y happens the creature is intelligent, but if not both X and Y happens the creature is an animal (defined here as a creature without intelligence on par with that of a human.)
For human-like creatures the chances of being born as an animal are small, but no species will be able to completely avoid it — this ties in with a class structure where those individuals that are related to an animal are “untouchable.” However, for creatures that would normally be defined as an animal (bears, horses, dogs, unicorns etc) the chances are the exact opposite. Even if one of these creatures is born with intelligence they are not immediately human-like; they must choose between living as their species or as a human. Don’t forget although the chances of a intelligent creature being born to animals is small most of the intelligent creatures are the prodigy of animals because they have much larger numbers. Thus there is no class struggles between the upper and lower intelligences and they do frequently interbreed.
The creatures born with human intelligence are capable of human communication, but at the same time they can still communicate with their animal relatives. Although on a completely different level. This sets it up so that we can create a world where there are huge battles with animals fighting along side men, where the polar bear chasing you is just trying to return your keys, where you can still eat chicken even though one is your next door neighbor, but at the same time keep a level of realism.
At a later time I will go deeper into how the actual intelligence works and the processes behind it functions.
The world of Arathria is composed of two Pangaea like continents named Arath and Ria — imaginative huh. The two continents are far enough apart that no non technological species can cross from one to another. Because of this the two continents have vastly different species; while Ria’s intelligent species are mainly humanoid, Arath’s main intelligent species range from non humanoid to vaguely humanoid. The continents also have very different geography and weather and this contributes to the difference in species.
Ria is a fairly fertile land with a large central desert surrounded by a nearly impassable mountain range. The mountains are not the tallest landforms in the world, but they have an extremely frigid environment combined with frequent volcanic activity. Along the coast the land ranges from rain forest in the north to marshlands in the south. However between the coast and the desert the land is perfect for agriculture. Because of this the center lands have been contested for generations, however only on a local basis. In general the land of Ria is at peace because of its bountiful and varied lands allowing it to progress culturally more than militarily.
In contrast Arath is a land much farther south that ranges in climate from grasslands to steppes to a large arctic Ice field that covers the bottom half of the continent. To the north of the continent plateaus soar into the air and are the largest land masses on the planet. The plateaus are so large that civilizations on nearby plateaus are completely oblivious of each other. Because of this the Plateau natives tend to be isolationist in nature and have conducted many bloody wars upon contact with another plateau. Because the land is cold and dry what few resources a group has must be guarded or risk extinction. Constant wars and fighting by neighboring groups has fueled the development of military technologies and stagnated the cultural improvements.
I have always wanted to write a book. Not just any book; a good one. One that creates an entire universe and populates it; maybe not even a single book, maybe a whole series. Anyway, that’s not why this whole section is here. Instead this section will create a universe. As a basic foundation it will be similar to any Fantasy book or movie you have read. There will be Elves, Dwarfs, Goblins and Dragons. Instead of creating a world defined by the genre and within a tired cliche, I will try to breath new life into the old themes; in such a way that the universe I create is unique while still be familiar and accessible. Continue reading