April 28, 2021
Picture it: It's a sweltering summer day, ninety degrees in the shade, heat mirages glimmering on the horizon. Can your characters strip down to their skivvies? Roll up their sleeves? Hike up their skirts? Or might they be shamed for so much as unbuttoning their collar? What cultural factors of religion, economy, gender, and sexuality play into that decision?
In this episode, we discuss conventions of modesty, nudity, bragging, virtue-signalling, and other details of culture that you can use when building a multi-faceted and nuanced fantasy world! We also take a few moments to (immodestly) discuss our new status as Hugo Finalists for Best Fancast and to introduce ourselves to new listeners!
Transcript for Episode 49, with thanks as ever to our wonderful scribes!
April 14, 2021
If your character finds an ancient mask half-buried in a field, is that just a cool remnant of an older culture, or are they about to unleash a demonic apocalypse? This week, Marina Lostetter joins us to talk about artefacts, archaeology, and the interpretation of material culture over time!
Some of the ancient artefacts in your world might be plot-driving vessels of magic, wonder, or absolute chaos, but the everyday objects that get preserved and protected --or not! -- can communicate a lot of information about your world's history, values, and cultural shifts.
Transcript for Episode 48 (with, as ever, great thanks to our scribes!)
Our Guest: The open skies and dense forests of the Pacific Northwest are ideal for growing speculative fiction authors–or, at least, Marina would like to think so. Originally from Oregon, she now resides in Arkansas with her spouse, Alex. In her spare time she enjoys globetrotting, board games, and all things art-related. Her original short fiction has appeared in venues such as Lightspeed, Uncanny, and Shimmer Magazine. Her debut novel, NOUMENON, and its sequels, NOUMENON INFINITY and NOUMENON ULTRA, are available from Harper Voyager. Her first fantasy novel, THE HELM OF MIDNIGHT, is forthcoming from Tor. In addition, she has written tie-in materials for Star Citizen and the Aliens franchise. She is represented by DongWon Song of the Howard Morhaim Literary Agency, and she tweets as @MarinaLostetter.
March 31, 2021
Does anybody really know what time it is? Does anybody really care? Well... Yeah! If you're building a world, the concept of the passage of time is likely to matter. How long is your year? How do you name the months and days? How small or large are your units of measuring time? And how can you convey all of that to a reader without making it feel like a freshman year language course?
In this wibbly-wobbly episode, we discuss the ever-present yet often-arbitrary division and definition of time and how it can work in your fantasy worldbuilding!
Transcript for Episode 47, thanks to amazing scribes!
March 17, 2021
From ballads to books to TikToks, how do the people in your world communicate their own stories and information? The consideration involves answering a lot of questions about literacy, technology, and your culture's values. C. L. Clark, author of The Unbroken, joins us to discuss the texts-within-texts and how to build them into your fantasy world!
Our Guest: Cherae graduated from Indiana University’s creative writing MFA and was a 2012 Lambda Literary Fellow. She’s been a personal trainer, an English teacher, and an editor, and is some combination thereof as she travels the world. When she’s not writing or working, she’s learning languages, doing P90something, or reading about war and [post-]colonial history. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in FIYAH, PodCastle, Uncanny and Beneath Ceaseless Skies. Now she’s one of the co-editors at PodCastle. She’s represented by Mary C. Moore of Kimberley Cameron and Associates.
Transcript for Episode 46 (with great thanks to our scribes!)
March 3, 2021
When you're trying to solve a problem with minimal stabbing, call in the diplomats! In this episode, we discuss the above-board negotiations of formal diplomats, the social maneuverings of informal national representatives, and the super-shady dealings of spies.
How interconnected or isolationist are the nations of your world? How do tech and magic affect diplomatic relations or spycraft? We explore these questions and more!
Transcript for Episode 45 (thank you, scribes!)
Info on Hugo Award Nominations and the eligibility spreadsheet!
February 17, 2021
If OldMacDonald has a dragon, how does he stable it? This episode explores domesticated animals in fantasy worldbuilding, from the useful cart-pullers to the companion animals who are purely there for scritchies. How does your world manage the animals who live alongside us? And what happens when those creatures can do things like breathe fire, open portals, or channel magical force?
Transcript for Episode 44 (Thank you, scribes!)
February 3, 2021
Journeys are a staple element of fantasy plots -- but just how do people get around in your world? Kate Elliott, author of Unconquerable Sun, joins us to discuss the feet, hooves, wings, wheels, portals, and other forms of transportation that allow your characters to go a-questing! We also consider the implications that may arise for communication, trade, and social etiquette based on how you structure those transportation systems.
Our Guest: As a child in rural Oregon, Kate Elliott made up stories because she longed to escape to a world of lurid adventure fiction. She now writes fantasy, steampunk, and science fiction, often with a romantic edge. She currently lives in Hawaii, where she paddles outrigger canoes and spoils her schnauzer.
Transcript for Episode 43, with thanks to our scribes!
January 20, 2021
So once you've done your worldbuilding, how exactly do you present it to the reader? Stina Leicht joins us to consider how much information to work in, when to do it, and other elements of the wordcraft of worldbuilding.
Transcript for Episode 42 (Thank you, Scribes!)
January 6, 2021
We humans are "meaning-making" creatures -- So what stories do your characters tell about themselves, their world, and their culture? The writing team of Marie Brennan and Alyc Helms, who together make up M. A. Carrick, join us to talk about weaving the myths, legends, and folklore that can help your imagined world feel fully textured and lived-in!
Transcript for Episode 41 (thank you, lovely scribes!)
December 23, 2020
We get asked about fantasy cussing all the time -- but before you can explore profanity, you have to decide what a culture holds sacred. What objects, rituals, or social contracts are inviolable? What bodily functions are unseemly for public discourse? What lines are there between etiquette and sacralization? Author K. B. Wagers joins us to explore building concepts of the sacred and the profane into your imagined world!
Transcript for Episode 40 (with thanks to our scribes! who had to do a lot of referential parsing in this episode, particularly)