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Tag: worldbuilding

Something Goes Wrong in Space (Idea), part I

So, here is a thought-process detailing a space horror movie. Developed by me and Drakekin.

Let’s start at a moment in time defined as T101. There are 200 Ts in the movie, and the movie starts in the middle. It then goes forwards and backwards, with scene 1 being T101-T109, scene 2 being T91-T100.  Etc. I liked it when Ian M. Banks used this narrative technique in Use of Weapons and we shall copy it.

This post is mainly for sci-fi fans. There is lots of assuming that you, the reader, are familiar with hard sci-fi here.

Elevator Pitch

Something goes wrong in space.

The Spaceship Details

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Worldbuilding 2: the Points of Departure

Last post in this series:

(I think people who write fan fiction use this term when referring to the relationship between their worlds and the canon, so, apologies to fanficpeople for appropriating your very useful phrase.)

You need points of departure in any world you build. If you’re making a TV-series about a copper in a well-known English town, you need to first establish that space is weird so that people don’t get confused when the copper runs into an alley in the south end of town, and out of an alley in the north end.

Seriously though, if you don’t point the strangeness of your world out, readers will (rightfully) assume that the world you write in is the same world as they live in. The underlying rules are still there. This happens on Earth … Rome is still in Italy … physics still work … entities that have selves still feel entitlement – the prejudices run deep! This is as it is, because you can’t rasa a tabula, not really. It’ll still be it-shaped.

The best introductions are often the ones that only show the main point of departure from the world in which the reader exists. I like to achieve this by, er, talking to the reader as if they are of a third, unseen world. For example, the time I explained Stephen King to people who would surely know about Stephen King. That was fun.

When you’re writing high fantasy, you can often get the point of departure by just having a map in the beginning of the book. Lots of points-of-departure are in the paratext (defined by TvTropes as ‘[e]verything that is an element of the whole package immediately encompassing the text and not part of the text itself’). But it’s good to have it in the text too, otherwise things get confusing when you send the thing off to someone to read simply the manuscript, before you’ve got the book deal and stuff. (Almost entirely unpublished, am I, so I’m not speaking from experience but assumption.)

There are of course lots and lots of points of departure in your work of any fiction. But you’ll probably have a main one. The one that causes all the consequences.


So! I need points of departure too, for this world! Obviously the poisonbeasts are a difference. But why is the world suddenly killing humans? (And other animals?) Did they do something wrong?

I think they set fire to the atmosphere.

(When asked what could go wrong during the first nuclear test, the American scientists responded that there was a tiny risk they’d set fire to Earth’s atmosphere. But at least that’s better than the Russians doing it.)

And as the fire burnt and left behind it some form of really terrible nuclear poison, the poisonbeasts appeared.

This has the consequences of: killing 40% of the human race (look, the poisonbeasts are good at what they do). Hitler is dead, along with most of the world leaders, because of reasons.

I think they set fire to the atmosphere, and then something else happened, but we’re not entirely sure what.

Worldbuilding 1: A Radiating Background

Last post in this series: worldbuilding-0-intro/

This is a world about monsters. I’ve decided to have this be a fresh new world, not linked even a little to any of the old worlds. This means no baanklide, even though I love the baanklide and it is the best monster ever. (The baanklide even has a fangirl.) Please bear with me in this post, as I don’t really do segues, but everything in this post relates to all the other things, I promise.

Today I was reading from The Rediscovery of Man (Cordwainer Smith) and it was amazing and I noticed a trend: the stories in this collection seemed to all be about space-travellers who travèlle space and fall in love. This got me thinking to how I would write such a story and then, springing forth like a jack-in-the-box came the idea of something I will call the Great Onebyone. I like to name things.

Recently I had half on an idea called the Ritual of Ophoboshekin. This idea, while alright, doomed itself to fail, in my opinion. The basic idea went: sometime, somewhere, someone is going through a ritual that symbolizes a hangover, because their utopia knows the meaning of fun and pain. I only got a couple of paragraphs in before hitting a halting point.

For The Ritual, which I did not assign a world, got a couple of paragraphs. For The Great Onebyone, set in the Anyverse, I’ve got almost two handwritten pages after about 2 hours of working on it. Maaaajor contrast, right. This is how I arrive at the conclusion that for stories to work for me, they need a world or it’s a lot more work. And that’s why I’m not going to try to figure out a story here when I write these posts, the best of those will only happen in a whoaflash, because that’s how my head works. I will describe the stories afterwards!

With that in mind: Monsters. Humans? Civilisations? Uncivilisations? I’ve been using the word ‘poison’ lately to describe a lot of things, most things of these not actually being poison. So, how about: humans are dying, there is poison everywhere. The poisonbeasts have graciously stepped in to gasmask humans, but everything has a price. They are taking over the biznaz. Like some sort of otherworldly mafia.

Yep. Join me next time (sometime next week) for figuring out how this world relates to our world, where the point-of-departure is and so. Also for maybe understanding what a poisonbeast is, and how they can gasmask humans.

Worldbuilding 0: Intro!

This might be a series, or it might be a one-off, but I put the (Intro) thing in the title because it would be nice if it was a series. I’m going to build a new world! That is definitely the best part of storytelling. First I’m going to do some analysis of two of the worlds I write in though, because I’m like that. The other worlds are either too small to make comments about, or (in the case of the Vailverse) secret!


A lot of the drabbles I write take place in the same universe – henceforth called the drabbleverse –, because it’s fun to have continuity and I wish I was Cordwainer Smith*. There are a few small things that separate this drabbleverse from ours, and they all grew forth pretty organically over the course of the year or so I’ve drabbld intensely.

The first thing of these is fate-days. On a fate-day, everything smells of iron, and you get one chance to change your life. Fate-days are allotted seemingly at random, and one can tell that one is coming up if the rate of coincidences one is encountering. Most people in the world knows this.

The second thing is the Immortal God of Death-Fate, who is channeled through the Machine of Death, which is basically two floating bowling balls with an EKG-line of electricity between them. It speaks directly to our hearts without going through our ears. It’s very cryptic and not very helpful, and follows the rules of other machines of death that exist**.

Another thing is that practically everything has been given agency again. This is not that very present but it is still noticeable in cases such as this one:, or this one: I say ‘again’, because, see, far back in time, through the eyes of humans, everything was given agency – the moon wanted to arc across the sky and the rivers wanted to flow. But with the advent of determinism and stuff agency’s been sort of slowly retracted to something only humans and certain animals have, but even that’s been called into question. Obviously the sun can’t be waiting for  anything.

I like that these things exist in that world.

The Anyworld

The world with the variable, the vessel and the vermin. The variable travels the universe and deletes unwitting or sturnfleen races of  biologically or technically immortal idea machines. It does so in the vessel, also called the Anywhere Machine. Nobody remembers what the vermin is/are/was/were except that it’s bad for everything. The stories written in this universe are all titled “The Anywhere Machine [something something]”. Only story currently live is The Anywhere Machine, Appendix I – Futureful Skyful***, but believe me when I say that this setting is stuffed. And also dark. Many words have to be invented specifically for this world, like sturnfleen, and dymphnatics, and meaninglet.


So, what makes these worlds fun?

Probably contrast. The contrast of those worlds and the one I exist in right now (just passing through). Hopefully they are fun to read because of this – most everything that makes you want to read anything is contrast; any scene, any sentence needs conflict. And contrast is the confliction of metaphysical concepts. Next time I will think up a few details about this new world. I will leave this topic for a little while, though, and think up exciting subtitles for posts that start “Worldbuilding [x]:”.

Below you can find a list of failed ideas for what this world should be about.

  • Instead of babies, humans lay eggs.
  • Extraterrestrials have already invaded and brought us under their yokes: it turns out capitalism comes from space.
  • Genetic memory is totally a thing, and people’s heads are becoming too large with all that information in their skulls.
  • The walls of reality are but eggs and literally world-shattering things are waking up.
  • Monsters.

Actually, that last one is probably on the right track. Next Worldbuilding post will be about monsters.

* Cordwainer Smith has a Wikipedia article you should perhaps read:

** if you haven’t yet read it, read it: