More About Worldiness

That’s world-i-ness, not world-li-ness.

I posted yesterday (supposed to be today, but I zigged when I shoulda zagged) at Echelon Explorations on the topic of making differences count.

In that post, I referenced other people’s work. This is my dang blog, and Imma use my own novels as examples, taking one example from each.

This takes place on an alternate Earth-type planet, and most of the natural world is the same. The only difference in the natural world, in fact, is that merfolk are an evolved sentient species. With the use of gillbands, they can function on land, balancing on their very long tails and moving like erect cobras. I didn’t just stick that in because I thought it would be cool. One of the central conflicts in the book is whether or not merfolk are people within the landfolk’s definition of the term and, if they aren’t, how they can and should be treated.

The first of the merfolk we meet is beaten, stripped of his gillband, given a cheap and inefficient one, and exiled into the desert. This is not the same level of danger to him as it is to the landfolk exiled with him.

Merfolk mature at a faster rate than landfolk, so Loach, a young adult from the sea, is much younger, experientially, than he appears. It makes him more foolhardy, more vulnerable and more resilient than expected.

The people of the planet Llannonn look exactly like Earth people. This isn’t laziness on my part — Whaddya mean “isn’t just laziness”? Shut up! — IT’S VITAL TO THE PLOT, which is one of mistaken identity.

An important cultural difference is the centrality of courtesy to the Llannonninns. People from other planets mistake the courtesy for gentleness, and are … let us say surprised … by the swiftness and harshness of Llannonninn justice. It isn’t pleasant to contemplate being placed, naked, into a nail-studded barrel drawn through the street by maddened beasts, even if the sentence is proposed over a nice cup of tea.

How do cultural differences play a part in your work or in your favorite books set in other places and/or times from your own?

WRITING PROMPT: There used to be a show on TV in which women were dominant and men were subservient. I found it sickening, because it was exactly like a stereotyped version of the real world at the time, with the genders reversed. How might the world be different in a matriarchy?


I was born in Louisville, Kentucky, but now live in the woods in southern Indiana. Though I only write fiction, I love to read non-fiction. The more I learn about this world, the more fantastic I see it is.

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One thought on “More About Worldiness

  1. Holly Jahangiri

    January 14, 2012 at 6:08pm

    I am baaaaaack. And not a pound lighter, more’s the pity, though there IS a new spring in my step…

    Hmm. Matriarchy, eh? I don’t know. I’m thinking more along the lines of “my brother from another mother from a recycled aluminum can…” but okay. Would it be cheating to name her Rosie? Maybe just for the retro laughs, I ought to name her Alice.

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    • Author

      Marian Allen

      January 14, 2012 at 6:16pm

      Alice? Is she going to the moon? And Rosie? You didn’t know that “Rosie” is my husband’s nickname for me? And is Race To The Hugo open for business?

      Permalink  ⋅ Reply

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