It’s been a looooong day, so I thought I’d do something quick and fun for today’s Worldbuilding Wednesday, namely a spotlight post about my favorite conworlds. I’ve realized lately that my favorite fiction franchises aren’t always synonymous with my favorite conworlds. For example, I love the Buffy franchise in many ways, but strictly in terms of worldbuilding it does a few things that aren’t really according to my tastes (primarily the use of the “98% of all supernatural beings are inherently evil”-trope). Likewise, there may be conworlds I’ve loved in terms of worldbuilding, but where the stories or characteristics haven’t been totally my cup of tea (though to be honest, I’m blanking right now). Anyway, here are some of my favorite conworlds, in my particularly order:
The HP Universe
I am, as it happens, a bit of a Potterhead. I’m part of the first generation that grew up on the books, and I have read them several times, in Swedish as well as English. Actually, I’m currently reading the first book in Arabic. Although I think it’s a great story with some fantastic, memorable characters, I think I’ve always been more in love with the world itself than with the story. It is just so gosh-darned whimsical! There are so many cute, funny, interesting creatures, objects, customs and places (and some dark and scary ones too, obviously), that I can’t help but be drawn in. I’m currently pretty danged excited about the upcoming Fantastic Beasts movie, because I can’t wait to see more of this world!
Heaventide by KJ Kabza
I found this short story by accident when browsing an electronic magazine called Fantasy & Science Fiction and I was completely taken in by it. It has some very interesting worldbuilding, especially with regard to gender and culturebuilding, and does some stellar exposition so that the conworld feels very real and full even if quite few worlds. That’s a skill I envy! This is one of those stories where I’m torn between going “ah! Just right!” and “more, I want more!”. It’s just such a fascinating world, I want to know more about it but at the same time sometimes not knowing more is part of the charm.
The Earth’s Children books
The Earth’s Children series falls squarely into the category my dad likes to call “old lady smut” but in spite of that, I think it’s a good example of worldbuilding I’ve enjoyed. It conjures up a stone age that may or may not resemble the real one, and in doing so invents some interested cultures and customs. I always found the culture clashes between the cro-magnon and the neanderthals in the books particularly interesting. I have long since outgrown the style of sex scene (which was the coolest thing ever when I first read them in my early teens), but the cultural and worldbuilding aspects I think I’d still enjoy reading about today. Though I’ll admit it didn’t hurt that I was in a major “I want to live in the woods and climb trees and make my own dye and learn to trap” phase when I first started on the series.
What do Dracula, Dorian Grey, Frankenstein, demonic posession, and runaway sharpshooters have in common? They’re all on Penny Dreadful, along with a bunch of other characters and beings from classic Victorian horror and more modern interpretations of the genre. It’s one of those conworlds that’s just… nuts. Everything’s all mixed up together and sometimes you wonder if the writers just wake up in the morning and go “I know! Let’s add crazy feature X“. Still, somehow it just works. It feels real and compelling, in a twisted and sometimes disturbing sort of way. It doesn’t hurt that there’s some great acting and scripting to bring the world to life, either.
The Sims 2
I know what you’re thinking! The Sims 2 isn’t a story, it’s just a game. And that’s true, but it’s also a conworld. I mean, think about it. Sims have their own language, currency, cultures, customs, behavioral patterns, music and much more. Doesn’t get much more conworldy than that! That’s true for all Sims games of course, but 2 has always been my personal favorite. I still play it, I even have a very sporadically updated blog. So why do I think it’s good worldbuilding? Well, because it feels complete, and it feels distinct. Like HP, it’s riddled with whimsical detail (which, again, I’m a sucker for). It’s just really stinking charming!
So, that’s my list! I am incredibly sleepy right now, so forgive me if I haven’t motivated my choics very well. I’ve probably forgotten a bunch of great examples too. But oh well… it’s sleepy time!