14.41: History

Your Hosts: Brandon, Dan, Howard, and Mahtab

Let’s make history! In this episode we talk about doing exactly that—creating real-feeling histories for secondary world settings. We discuss the resources we turn to, the pitfalls we try to avoid, and the places where we think the history has been done really well.

Credits: This episode was recorded by Dan Thompson and mastered by Alex Jackson


Tell thousands of years of history from the point of view of a tree which has been there for all of it.

Airborn, by Kenneth Oppel

5 thoughts on “14.41: History”

  1. The Utah foursome, Brandon, Dan, Howard, and Mahtab (or was that really Mary Robinette practicing an accent?), got together to talk about history! History for secondary world fantasies, character histories, letting the flash from the top of your iceberg fool your readers into thinking there’s a whole iceberg underneath… Watch out for falling into the chalk drawing, with verbal perspective fooling you. Read all about it in the transcript, available now in the archives.

  2. This has me thinking about how in one of my settings there are several cultures that have the experience of looking back at a massive collapse, chaos, and a long staggering rebuilds, while two (for different reasons) have long continuous histories (one oral, and the other written / experienced).

    I hadn’t thought about it in those specific terms before, but it turns out that the divide was there all along. After this episode I’m going to pay more attention to how this influences their different views of history, and even what they consider viable sources..

  3. I’ve heard you guys throw around the iceberg metaphor countless times over the years and now I’ve finally come up with a way to explain why I don’t like it: I don’t have a good feel for what a realistic “iceberg” should look like. To borrow from the false perspective metaphor, 3-d paintings only work if you know how to fake 3-dimensionalness, otherwise it looks like a bulbous skewering of the planet everyone else lives on. If I try to fake any part of the worldbuilding, I end up with shallowness and incongruity, not an illusion of depth. For me, at least, the only way around my lack of perspective sense is to actually build the entire iceberg. Which, of course, means I can’t churn out stories as fast as you guys can, and I get disappointed in myself when you are all “Look how easy it is if you take this amazing shortcut!” and know that I *can’t* follow that advice.

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