The Two Ingredients for a Believable Fantasy World
When I first set out to create the future planet Mars in my book Ice Red, I kept two things in mind at all times—first, the physical rules of my imaginary universe, and second, the social history of the people who live in it.
The laws of physics that govern Ice Red are simple to remember, because they are the same as the laws that govern real life. My characters have to deal with Mars’s low gravity, they can’t travel faster than the speed of light, and so on. If my hero Cesare suddenly pulled out a shrink ray to zap the villains, that would break the rules established for the world of the book. When that happens, the suspended disbelief of the reader comes crashing down with a thump, or worse, a laugh.
As with the physical reality the characters inhabit, their social reality has to be well established. Just as I had to be aware of how life in low gravity affected my characters, I had to understand their society’s political and economic structures. My hero and heroine Cesare and Bianca don’t think or act like twenty-first century Americans because their history and culture is different from mine. For example, Santa Claus is not part of Bianca’s mental landscape, but little green men are.
Details like that give an imagined world texture and heft. Even if most of the history or the physical rules of the world never make it into the text, they still need to be there in the background informing the assumptions and actions of all the characters. Ultimately, showing how the characters experience their reality is what makes an imagined world seem real.
by Jael Wye
Mirror, mirror, full of stars,
Who will claim the throne of Mars?
The princess: Engineer Bianca Ross, heir to a megacorporation and the Mars elevator, needs to acquire a mine on the surface to secure her place in the company. All that stands in her way is the mine's charming owner, Cesare Chan.
The evil stepmother: Victoria Ross is plotting to gain control of Mars. She plans to assassinate Bianca and seduce Cesare to further her goals, and Bianca's trip is the perfect opportunity.
The charming prince: Cesare shouldn't get involved. Bianca's visit could reveal the escaped slaves he's hiding at his mine, but he can't ignore a damsel in distress--especially one as beautiful as Bianca.
Alone, neither would stand a chance against Victoria. But together, they could rewrite a tale that's meant to end with Bianca's blood.
Read an excerpt:
In one swift rush, he tackled Woods, driving him away from her. She crouched on the floor, stunned, as the two men grappled for control of the rifle. Cesare was bigger, but the Earther was as solid and hard as a boulder, his shorter limbs letting him power in close. He briefly let go of the gun with his left hand and pounded Cesare in the side with a series of vicious jabs. Cesare grunted in pain but didn’t let go. He used his superior height to jerk Woods off balance and send them careening into the rover’s cab, half falling against the consoles.
The rifle fired with a sizzling crack, the round blowing through the rover controls. Blue sparks crackled under the panels, and the sharp stink of fried comps filled the air.
“Fecking mookie!” Woods shrieked. His face was a bestial mask under the sickly, flaring light. “You’re dead! You’re dead!” With a heave of his thick shoulders, he slammed Cesare backward into the wall next to the lock door, trying to shove the rifle up against his throat.
Cesare’s lips were drawn back from his teeth in a fierce snarl, but his face was gray, his arms shaking with strain. Bianca looked around wildly for something, some way to help him. Her eyes fell on the emergency lock release on the door. She launched herself at it before the thought could even half form in her mind, darting past the two fighters to fetch up against the door. She ripped through the protective membrane and clawed the switch.
Instantly the locks burst open, the rover’s air rushing past her into the frozen world outside. She threw herself sideways, crouching next to the wall.
On the other side of the open door, Cesare’s eyes flashed toward her once, and then he jabbed his knee up into Wood’s stomach. The Earther grunted, wavering slightly, and Cesare instantly hauled him back and through the lock.
Jael Wye grew up on the American Great Plains, went to school in the Midwest, and now lives in beautiful New England with her family and her enormous collection of houseplants. For more of Jael’s unique blend of futurism and fairy tale, don’t miss her ongoing series Once Upon A Red World.
Website -- http://www.jaelwye.net
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Twitter -- @jaelwye
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