67 – Deep Worldbuilding

The Mythcreant Podcast

Chris, Mike, and Oren get into the weeds of worldbuilding. How much culture is too much? What little details are distracting? And do you really need depth, or just an illusion of it?

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Opening and closing theme: The Princess Who Saved Herself by Jonathan Coulton. Used with permission.

Show Notes:

Crow Fishers from Mad Max: Fury Road

The Cultural Iceberg

Warbreaker by Brandon Sanderson

The 100

Battlestar Galactica’s unique paper


Shogun by James Clavell

The Lord of the Rings and The Simarillion by J.R.R. Tolkein

Star Trek: Voyager: Nemesis (episode)

Feed (Newsflesh, Book 1) by Mira Grant

The “Planet of Hats” trope

Avoiding the Planet of Hats

The Lies of Locke Lamora (Gentleman Bastards, Book 1) by Scott Lynch

Valkwitch by Michael L Watson

Leviathan Wakes (The Expanse, Book 1) by James SA Corey

Bothans from Return of the Jedi


Star Trek: Enterprise

Old Man’s War (Old Man’s War, Book 1) by John Scalzi

The Human Division (Old Man’s War, Book 5) by John Scalzi (referred to as The B-Team in podcast, which is the name of the first short in the anthology)


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  1. Anne-Maree

    I read something this week where there was NO worldbuilding on what was supposed to be an alien world that exiled humans had reached. The aliens had bagels, spaghetti with meatballs and tomato sauce, apples and butterflies, and it was so jarring. I might have been able to get past it if the story had been better…
    Seanan (Mira Grant) said on tumblr that she phones the CDC and asks them ‘if I mixed this with this how fast would it spread…’ and the day they said ‘omg no, don’t do that,’ she knew she’d hit gold.

    • Oren Ashkenazi

      I wonder if that writer was trying to subvert your expectations about aliens? That would make more sense, even if it didn’t work.

    • Hunter_Wolf

      I suppose it could work if those aliens were spying on earth and over a long period of time they adapted some food and habits from Earth or at least tried to mimic them, that wouldn’t explain the apples and butterflies though (unless they came to Earth, took samples from animals and plants and cultivated them on their world before the story started, not sure why they would do that though).

      The thing is, It could have explanations but one would need some extensive foreshadowing and worldbuilding to make it work, here it seems almost as if she is trying to suggest the aliens just happened to have those things by pure chance, even worse if the aliens called them the same names too, if she wanted to use chance as an excuse (i.e the aliens by chance happened to create bagels -or something really similar to it- like humans did, it’s outragous to assume they would call it the exact same name we use on earth by chance too).

  2. Daniel O'Donovan

    With regard to Enterprise I am in two minds about it. On the one hand I don’t think there is much of an issue with showing races we haven’t seen before. It is a big galaxy and the ships we follow aren’t going to see everyone. On the other hand given all the designs of aliens that have never been developed why not use some of them? Like Morn’s people for instance. And Phlox could have been Bolian – given that DS9 established the idea of co-husbands and co-wives it would have fit perfectly.

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