Time for another Blog Chain Post. This time, my friend Heather picked the topic: How do you as an author choose or create your story-world and give that setting authenticity? You can start with her blog if you wish to follow the entire blog chain link to link, or you can check out all the marked blogs in my Blog List.
The previous poster, Archetype, focused on the laws of fantasy and science fiction worlds. I'm going to continue discussing science fiction; specifically, I'm going to talk about creating future worlds. My novel Across Two Universes has three major worlds: the world of mid-21st century New York (about 60 years ahead of us), the world of the spaceship Sagan, and the world of 1980 Earth, where my hero, Paul, meets the man he was cloned from and attempts to change the fate of that world. Everything in ATU is set up to make that meeting possible.
When I came up with this story world, my initial idea was to send someone back in time to hear the Beatles play at the Cavern in Liverpool. I then had to figure out her motive for doing so, and it turned out to be to clone John Lennon. (The original versions of my novella "Move Over Ms. L." and the first few drafts of ATU did use John Lennon and other real people; there's no denying that. I'm currently changing them, though.) So I had to set up a world where time travel was possible and figure out how that worked. I started with a few Writer's Digest books devoted to time and space travel. I decided that the best time travel method for this story would be to have the time traveler pass through a wormhole into another, younger universe. She would need a spaceship to do so, not to mention a wormhole. I don't want to go into too much detail about the origins of the wormhole, but I will say it's not natural. But I also needed a society capable of making a spaceship, so in my future world, cold fusion is possible and used to power the ship (which still isn't capable of faster-than-light travel, so it travels relatively short distances). The ship itself is used to collect genetic samples and other treasures of the 1980 Earth and bring them back to the 21st century.
In designing the Sagan, I focused more on how people live in it than its technical specs. Although the ship is well-stocked and maintained every time it returns to the 21st century Earth, it has to be able to supply its residents with food independently. I therefore gave it a salmon tank and a hydroponic garden. It also has a psychiatrist to help people cope with space travel and little cubicles where people can seek privacy. Since passage through the wormhole is rough at best, passengers are required to strap themselves into their bunks.
To come up with other technological wonders of my world, I read Scientific American. My heroes wear "smart clothes" that can keep the wearer warm and spidersilk armor that can stop bullets--things already being discussed today. I also extrapolate uses of the technology; holographs aren't just used to replace TVs but to create costumes for actors. I also think about how current events would affect the future. In my world, global warming has caused severe flooding in New York City; the city was saved by building levees.
Research and imagination can help you create your world, but it's the way you use them that makes your world authentic. Instead of telling my readers about my world, I show it to them as Paul would see it. The story starts with Paul using his autoholoprojectors during a play. On the Sagan, he meets with his girlfriend in the hydroponic garden and in a private cubicle, interacting with the settings and experiencing them through several senses. I don't lecture the readers about flooding; instead, Paul mentions in bypassing how he was an extra in the documentary The Floods of New York.
It's time for me to pass the blogging baton to Kristal, but I'd like to sum up in three points: when creating a world, make it multifaceted. Think about the implications of your decisions on other aspects of the world. And don't forget to show it to the reader with sensory descriptions and telling details. No matter what world you write about, the details will make it real.