Hi, everyone! I am starting a new feature on the blog this week -- Fantasy Fridays. This is to help feed my love for all things fantasy :)
And with me today is Bryan Thomas Schmidt, who's going to talk about worldbuilding. I had the pleasure of meeting Bryan at ConQuesT43, and sitting on a panel with him, as well as listening to his knowledge on panels he did with other presenters. Great guy! And very very knowledgeable.
There are two books that highlight what Bryan is talking about today, and I'll share them first!
Book I in the Saga Of Davi Rhii Series
The ReturningBook II in the Saga Of Davi Rhii Series
One of the funnest parts of writing can be the opportunity to create worlds. World-building, as it’s termed, allows you to not only posit ideas about what a world different than our own might look like, but, particularly in speculative fiction, to create the world you’ve always wanted. Of course, there are rules one must adhere to: the world has to make sense and operate in a way that has some logic and reason readers can grasp. But that still leaves a lot of room for writers to get creative.
Claire asked me to talk a little bit about that process and some favorite aspects of it in my Saga Of Davi Rhii series.
First, I love gadgets. Especially cool vehicles. So I created several for my world and employed them in action sequences with the characters. The Davi Rhii books (The Worker Prince and The Returning are out, The Exodus will follow in 2013) are space opera aka space fantasy like Star Wars, Star Trek, Firefly, Babylon 5, etc., so they are not restricted to hard science necessarily, thus I was able to posit Faster Than Light travel (FTL for short), laser weapons like blasters and cannons, etc. The key vehicles employing these for extraplanetary travel in my novels are star fighters called VS28’s and two types of shuttles.
The shuttles are lightly armed passenger transports, the largest of which are for general population and military staffs, the smallest of which are for the Royal family and elites. They consist of a cockpit with two black chairs facing a transparent blast shield, surrounded by controls, and separated by a bulkhead from a passenger compartment containing four rows of seats—two lining each exterior wall and two back-to-back down the center. Each has its own safety harness. Intraplanetary models operate without lightspeed capabilities, while interplanetary models are equipped with ultra-lightspeed drives. Shuttles are white with light gray interiors, except the smaller Royal versions which hold less passengers and are customized to meet the owners’ whims.
Heavily armed and designed for combat at both shirt-range and long-range distances, VS28 starfighters are sleek and black with snub noses and three wings—two longer extended out of each side horizontal to the cockpit and one smaller, verticaal wing extending above the fighter’s four engines. Laser cannons are mounted on each wing as well as in the nose cone and a gray, transparent blast shield protects the cockpit while still allowing the pilot to see out to space and the world around him or her. These ships are faster and far more maneuverable than shuttles and heavily used by the military, mostly for extraplanetary defense and offense.
But of course, a world also needs ground based craft. And so I created those as well. One is strictly military, one both military and civilian and one strictly civilian in use.
For civilians without personal vehicles, airtaxis are the key mode of transport. Airtaxis run along the ground and on elevated roadways throughout the planets. Operated by autobots, robot drivers who accept commands from passengers, they are designed to get passengers from one place to another efficiently but without particular concern for speed, etc. You can override the autobot in emergencies but it sets off a warning system. Airtaxis typically have three benches which can hold three passengers each with the autobot operating in the left front dash opposite the sliding doors. They float above the ground rather than running on wheels, thus allowing them to switch between land-based and elevated roadways.
Skitters are one-man ground craft that operate on a system allowing it to fly above the planet’s surface, higher than airtaxis or the larger Floaters (see below). Sleek and fast, Skitters are easy to maneuver through trees and other obstacles and are known to handle much like VS28 starfighters. They are used by the military for ground patrols in areas where larger vehicles would have difficulty such as forests, mountainous areas, etc. But also can be privately owned and used by individuals. Military Skitters can be fitted with laser cannons or used for armed riders to engage in combat but it takes great skill to operate Skitters and hold, aim and fire a weapon at the same time.
Floaters are floating platforms with two seats facing a control panel at the front; which move by manipulating the air underneath to float above the ground. The largest Floaters have benches to hold as many as twenty troops—more if ten stand in the middle. Smaller models are typically designed for four or five passengers. These are restricted to military use, although a few private contractors have their own versions.
Imagining such vehicles and employing them in action is a great deal of fun for my imagination. Of course, I know that makes me sound like a typical guy, despite the irony that I’m not much into cars and such in my real world life. What aspects of world-building really get your adrenaline pumping? What are the things you’ve created which get you excited? We’d love to explore that more in comments on this post.
In Bryan’s second novel, The Returning, new challenges arise as Davi Rhii’s rival Bordox and his uncle, Xalivar, seek revenge for his actions in The Worker Prince, putting his life and those of his friends and family in constant danger. Meanwhile, politics as usual has the Borali Alliance split apart over questions of citizenship and freedom for the former slaves. Someone’s even killing them off. Davi’s involvement in the investigation turns his life upside down, including his relationship with his fiancée, Tela. The answers are not easy with his whole world at stake.
I love worldbuilding, as you all know, and while I have not tried my hand at sci-fi, the technical detail here, flat out amazes me. Nicely put, Bryan!
Let's take a quick peek at this world.
“This isn’t working!” Farien yelled as he fired several blasts toward the Skitters over the tops of civilian cars waiting behind them.
Davi saw the civilian drivers’ terrified faces in the mirror. Then the next lane was open. He accelerated and slid over, racing forward and around the delivery vehicle. He heard explosions and cursing as the Skitter riders found themselves blocked, then he ducked around the next corner, hoping to lose them.
“Well, Niger’s seeming pretty guilty to me now,” Farien said.
“You think?” Yao teased.
The Skitters were back on their tail in moments, firing at them from both sides as Yao and Farien ducked and then stuck their heads back up and fired back.
“You said you could outfly them, Rhii! We’re about to die in here!” Farien cursed as a blast tore up the seat beside him.
Davi rounded another corner and zigzagged the air taxi in and out of traffic toward a large freight yard with huge metal containers, lifts, and other equipment scattered around. Entering the yard, he scooted past the obstacles and ducked the air taxi in between two shipping containers.
“Maybe we can get lost in here,” Yao suggested.
Davi shook his head. “The Major’s been after me for a while. He won’t be taking any chances.”
Suddenly, an explosion flashed behind them and a chunk fell off a building back toward the street they’d entered from. Davi spotted Skitters zigzagging in and out of the obstacle course as he navigated.
“What now?” Yao asked.
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Thank you so much for dropping in, Bryan. I hope you'll come back again when The Exodus releases.
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