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 A Guide to Sci-Fi World Building

Discussion in 'Guides' started by Le Petit Prince, Sep 7, 2018.

  1. Le Petit Prince

    Le Petit Prince Le Prince de Gay Community Helpers

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    ESSENTIALS OF THE GENRE
    Science fiction or sci-fi is exactly what it sounds like: a fictional story based on science, technology and the future. Stories of this genre are generally set in the future when huge advancements in technology have occurred. While that amount of freedom can frighten people at first, it’s really quite a simple genre to grasp.

    There are two main sub-genres that sci-fi can be split up into: Earth-based or space-based. Earth-based is centred around Earth. This could alternatively be based around another planet but for this guide, we’ll be focusing just on Earth. The plot centres around our home planet and how technology has affected it. Society may have changed and evolved from exposure to other other-worldly races, politics may now have to deal with Earth as well as the whole galaxy. Self-aware androids may exist, making room for a robot uprising (but more on those later).

    Space-based is centred around the galaxy in its entirety. There is a lot of room for space travel and different kinds of crews (eg. pirates, military, exploration, colonisers). The focus is generally on the crew of a ship, making their way from planet to planet in order to achieve some kind of goal. Maybe it’s to sleep with as many races as possible or to find a long-lost treasure.

    Whatever you choose to go with, it’s always important to include cool gadgets. These are important as they provide insight into the culture and nature of your sci-fi world. These can easily be inspired by tech that exists now such as mobile phones, virtual reality sims, Roombas, basically whatever you want. Add cool modifications to them, like holograms when you call someone, a VR device that’s just a microchip in your head, Roombas that have faces to express their joy when you come home. Go wild! If you want accuracy, it’s always good to study up on biology, biology and especially space and gravity.

    SETTINGS
    As mentioned above, there are two main sub-genres that I’m splitting sci-fi into. Earth-based can be quite a simple one to go for as you only really have to focus on one planet and already have a basis to work from. It’s important to think about how the advancement of technology has affected the world as a whole and how possibly other worlds have affected our own if you choose to include other races.

    Things to consider that might affect a future world are climate change, populations, the current political climate and current technology. Things that might affect how humans themselves might change are non-earth gravity, unbreathable atmospheres and GMO’s. These things may be overcome by green energy, improvements in medicine and even changes in human biology itself, or perhaps they haven’t been overcome yet. These things not only have an impact on us right now, but how things will play out in the future and they don’t necessarily have to coincide with your beliefs of how things will play out.

    Space-based can still be affected by how Earth changes but also involves entirely different planets. Although creating an entire backstory isn’t entirely necessary, it’s important to consider its current purpose. Not everything will be covered here since it can get quite in-depth quite quickly but Google is your best friend and other resources can be found below to help get you started.

    ARCHETYPAL CHARACTERS
    Just like any story, there is a protagonist and an antagonist. There aren’t many differences from any normal story you would write for sci-fi (aside from some unusual space aliens, if you’re wanting to create one.) As mentioned above, there will be some useful links down below that can help you get started with building an otherworldly character. Just like normal, characters’ backgrounds affect who they become, so it’s important to work out what kind of future world you want to create before, and then work out how growing up in that world will affect the character.

    Typical characters include members of a crew (pilot, engineer, medics, etc.) Depending on the kind of story you’re creating, you may also want to include androids and/or aliens. Other archetypes may include mercenaries, spacefarers set on researching different planets and races, outlaws, pirates or even someone famous, galaxy renowned for their knowledge or great pop songs. Any of these types can be turned into a protagonist or antagonist depending on their goals. Take a power-hungry idol set on taking over the world or a mercenary with a big heart who loves their family and hugs. There are also so many different kinds of background you can apply to your character, so don’t take these examples as an exhaustive list.

    FACTIONS
    Factions are a big part of space-based sci-fi. Most of them are crews or fleets of ships that work together or are just on friendly terms. You can create these however you want and make up any kind of rules for them. Think of them a bit like gangs in the real world but in space and with cool ships.

    Factions on Earth could include things like gangs or companies that might play a hugely influential part in daily life (things like Google or Apple today, these can also be applied to both kinds of sci-fi I’m covering here) Again, there’s a lot of free reign in this. Create whatever kinds of tensions you want with them!

    POLITICAL INTERACTIONS
    As stated before, wars and new worlds with their own government can change the future of our Earth. I find it best to make something like a relationship map with all the bigger powers (either countries on Earth and how they interact or the Earth as a whole and how they interact with other planets.)

    If two worlds have a bad relationship, people may not be able to trade or enter there. If they’re friendly, they may have to go to war as allies. Of course, the views of the government don’t always reflect the people’s views. There can still be racism or some forbidden love between different allies or enemies.

    CONFLICTS
    Conflicts may arise from feuds between factions or political parties, causing wars. Robot uprisings are also a classic of the genre, as well as their uses throughout daily futuristic life. There is also room for a struggle through an oppressive government towards liberation, or invasions of privacy through new technology (something a bit 1984-esque.) As I said before there’s also potential for a forbidden love between enemy factions. Personally, I’m a pretty big fan of giant robots fighting in space because who doesn’t want giant mechs destroying planets in really cool battles?

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    Hopefully, this has made sci-fi a less intimidating genre to explore. It’s extremely flexible genre so, while delving into creating an entirely new world with new races isn’t a requirement, this kind of setting provides heaps of opportunities for those who wish to. There are also so many different paths to explore, every adventure is different. Feel free to explore the links below to get some extra help on how to get started.
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    RESOURCES
     
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