World-building is what you make it. . .

cryptonomicon reamde

I’ve been reading some Neal Stephenson lately and I’ve been reminded of a point that I often try to make when I do my world-building talks. The point being that the skills used for world-building in science fiction and fantasy are not genre specific. I see writers who assume that if they’re not building the universe from the ground up, the whole world-building toolkit is irrelevant. They fail to realize that every writer has to build a world in the reader’s mind, and even if the facts behind the pages are not the author’s invention, those facts still need to inform the story and make it into the reader’s head. The world of Cryptonomicon is no less full and complex and richly detailed as Snow Crash, despite the former being less science fiction than the average Tom Clancy novel.

I’m currently reading (listening to) Reamde. And I’m reminded a lot of a triptych of John Brunner novels; Stand on Zanzibar, The Sheep Look Up, and The Shockwave Rider. Like those three rightly classic novels, Stephenson juggles multiple viewpoints to illuminate an incredibly detailed and complex world— even when that world is much more congruent to the one we live in than Brunner’s.

shockwave zanzibar sheep

Still working, still here. . .

Just a little update to let you know I’m still alive, still busy doing game things like revising my final draft for my editor.  Now that’s done, we’re on to continuity and beta testing. In the meantime I had to come up with some additional “assets” for the game. One such “asset” is some descriptions of the game.

Fair enough.

No more than 50 characters, suitable for the Subject: line of an email.

Okay, I can do that.

We recommend coming up with 20 of them.


You think that sounds bad? It’s really worse.  Especially because, well, I’m a novelist. Pithy ain’t really my thing. When your publisher’s documentation of their needs actually uses the word “grueling,” you know you’re in for a good time.  It’s especially grueling because this is no trivial bit of work. One of those 20 lines may be the first glimpse someone has of this game, so it’s kind of important.

No pressure.

PS: I was going to put up a political post instead of this, and then I looked around and told myself, “Yeah, that’s what the Internet needs right now— MORE POLITICS!