WorldBuilding and Unbuilding

Usually, science fiction has its own mythology that takes you into a completely different, new and exciting world. That’s sort of the case with Gateway: the City’ Reason. But it’s not a totally different world. It’s set in the heartland of America 50 years from now. It’s a world that’s built on American mythology and the realities of today. There was no apocalypse to wipe the slate clean and make it easy to create a new “stage.” We’ve built a “sustainable stage” and we’re using what we have – or should we say, we’ll use what we have in the near future. That makes it a little harder, but also more satisfying.




A Few Thoughts on Worldbuilding

From Collaborative Worldbuilding for Writers and Gamers

By Trent Hergenrader

Worldbuilding is the process of creating a representation of a fictional world. It encompasses more than just the setting where a story takes place. It includes the political and social forces at work, logistical questions pertaining to geography and economics and much, much more…

Worldbuilding incorporates all of the available information about the fictional world and how those pieces fit together. People praise a story’s worldbuilding when the many details of the fictional world work in harmony and feel natural. They criticize the worldbuilding when blatant contradictions or logic gaps break their sense of immersion in the narrative, or when the minute details of the world’s workings take precedence over characters and plot.

Good fiction writers don’t begin by exhaustively describing every minute aspect of a world. Instead they build worlds within worlds and let their characters explore the juxtapositions and frictions within the society…Creators of imaginary worlds must balance worldbuilding and storytelling. They must develop complexity on the one hand, but incorporate only the details that a plot demands on the other…

Worldbuilders first, build [or un-build in the case of climate fiction] a sufficiently complex world that will serve as an engine for different types of storytelling. Second, they use that engine to drive stories told from the perspective of specific characters, who will view the world in different ways and will face different challenges based on their position in society.


There has been some blowback on worldbuilding when it comes to fiction writing lately. Here’s an interesting take on how fiction writers might look at worldbuilding:

In contrast to “worldbuilding,” I’ll offer the term “worldconjuring.” Worldconjuring does not attempt to construct a scale model in the reader’s bedroom. Worldconjuring uses hints and literary magic to create the illusion of a world, with the reader working to fill in the gaps. Worldbuilding imposes, worldconjuring collaborates.

Lincoln Michel, Former editor-in-chief of Electric Literature

Climate Change and “Worldunbuilding.”

We have a world that is literally being “un-built” by the climate crisis. Could worldbuilding be a useful tool for CliFi, fantasy and SciFi writers?


We’ll be exploring worldbuilding and unbuidling as we build Gateway’s Sustainable Stage and the Bible for our franchise.






Science fiction readers (and most CliFi readers) are among the most rabid, and most detail-oriented, readers of any genre. So we’d better get stuff right. That makes research important — at the fact checking stage and at the world building and un-building stage.

I have my CliFi lit/craft students do weekly research on climate change’s impact. They find solid science on the storms, drought, flooding, agricultural collapse and migration that the climate crisis will bring. They then create writing prompts based on that research.

What a number of students have noticed while doing these exercises is that the research tends to bring them creative breakthroughs and connections that they wouldn’t have discovered without taking that closer look at climate change.

Many writers overlook is how research can be applied to the creative process, and how it can bring about new connections.

Research is critical to the credibility of the poliscfi stories being told in the Gateway franchise.









How it could be and how we get there.