I typically write on “pastor stuff” for my Sunday posts, but I’ve been out sick all week so I’m writing on what first came to mind.
I’m a great lover of Science Fiction and Fantasy. These genres, more than any other, offer readers portals into an entirely different world. Tolkien is, of course, the greatest example of world building in modern times. Middle Earth isn’t just a setting for a series of stories. It’s a living breathing world with languages, cultures, and histories ancient and recent. The Silmarillion remains the single most rewarding piece of fiction I have ever read.
Tolkien may be the most in depth creator of an alternate world in the modern age, but he’s not the only one of significance. J.K. Rowling’s wizarding world is a setting I tend to stomp through every summer. It’s been many years since I’ve ventured there, but the world of Krynn, setting for the Dragonlance Chronicles is wonderfully developed. Terry Pratchett’s Discworld has not only developed over time, it’s developed in time as well – the Disc has slowly moved into an industrial age over the course of it’s many works. Jasper Fforde’s novels are silly, adventurous, and great windows on our own world. I could add more, of course 1, but these are most my favorite alternate realities.
I write “most” because I haven’t mentioned my favorite author at present, Brandon Sanderson. Sanderson is an absolute master at world-building. He’s best known for his Mistborn Triology, but my favorite series is probably the Stormlight Archive. Brandon Sanderson not only knows how to create worlds, he creates magic systems to populate those world which fit in their context. Metals, light, colors, breath, and even chalk all help form the systems which fit in his worlds. Around these systems are woven religions, rituals, and philosophies which guide the rhythm of each setting. He is, in a word, brilliant.
If you’ve never taken time to read a Sanderson novel, I have the perfect way to get you started. You see, Brandon Sanderson made his Novel, Warbreaker available as a free download on his website 2. He only asks if you enjoy the book, which you will, you will purchase it. I highly recommend reading the free version, purchasing an ebook version, and reading the story again with the purchase version. Purchased eBooks 3 contain some author’s notes for each chapter. These give some fantastic insights to the book and character motivation. It’s a free book, get reading!