Brandon Kier

Scientist by day, mad scientist by night, Brandon is well-known for his super speed and magnanimity. His favorite peptide origami shape is a crane. His favorite planet is Earth (at least so far - they haven't built a better one).

Worldbuilding

Designing Aliens From an Alternate Earth

Avatar's Pandora, complete with flying blue beasties and pretty forest waterfall.

From the little green men of Mars to the rubber foreheads of Star Trek, aliens persist as a tried-and-true staple of science fiction. Though the concept of alien life isn’t unrealistic, scifi representations are almost always implausible. We’ve recently deduced that Earth-like planets should number … read more »

Worldbuilding

Crafting Plausible Maps

Building a map for a fantasy setting involves a lot of details – most of them fun! Art styles, fonts, and icons need to be chosen. But some mapping concerns go beyond mere aesthetics. If you’re building a sizable chunk of continent on an Earth-like … read more »

Worldbuilding

Looking Under Your World’s Skin

Last month, we covered how the ground below a constructed world can behave. From the gradual shaping of continents to the rapid devastation unleashed by volcanoes and ice dams, geological processes define and destroy civilizations. Now that we’ve seen your world move, it’s time to see … read more »

Worldbuilding

Tweaking Your World’s Geology

Waimea Canyon, Kauai, Hawaii

Chances are your world is built on something.  If it’s anything like Earth, your characters are living in a thin veneer of air and water sandwiched between a dark, unforgiving void and a churning sea of white-hot iron. We’ve already looked at what’s above; now let’s … read more »

Worldbuilding

Changing the Way Your World Moves

Earth is a great planet. It’s functional enough as life-bearing planets go, and it boasts plenty of room – 510 million square kilometers, to be precise* – for all sorts of interesting stories. Yet sometimes you just have to change the scenery; escape your earthly … read more »

Worldbuilding

Giving Your World Fantastic Skies

Earth is consistently used as a setting for fiction – even speculative fiction such as scifi and fantasy. This may have something to do with all known authors and readers being from there; Earth is a friendly, familiar, ready-made planet to dump characters and plot onto. But … read more »

Worldbuilding

Obeying the Celestial Speed Limit

As a genre, science fiction frequently runs roughshod over the hard limits of the universe as we currently understand them. Above all else, science fiction writers consistently forget, hand wave away, or blatantly ignore what is perhaps the most foundational rule in the universe: nothing … read more »

Worldbuilding

Using Animals for Transport and Labor

Whatever your setting, you’ll probably need animal transportation and labor. Only in the past 100 years has overland transportation been dominated by machines; throughout history, most humans have relied on some manner of large beastie to haul around their stuff or themselves. Read more »