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Recommended Reading: World-Building


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That's the title. World-Building: A Writer's Guide to Constructing Star Systems and Life-Supporting Planets, by Stephen L. Gillett. Published 1996, so it'sw B. E. (Before Exoplanets) -- but Gillett still has some nifty ideas for worlds and a lot of useful basic info on astronomy, geology and their intersection. It's part of a series of handbooks for SF writers edited by Ben Bova.


My personal favorite is the co-orbital pair, in which two bodies regularly switch their orbits back and forth. Gillett says that two of Saturn's moons (Janus and Epimetheus) actually do this! (These linked orbits are also called "horseshoe orbits" from the way each orbit looks from the frame of reference of the other orbiting body. IIRC, that's the name of the Wikipedia article that also explains this setup.)


Gillett is a geologist. He's also written SF under a pseudonym, so he can come at the world-building task from both angles of science and story.


Dean Shomshak

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  • 2 weeks later...

are you looking for more books on world building? rule suggestions? software suggestions?


for world building/generation rules from a gaming standpoint... few things come close to Traveller, from the basic Classic Traveller... to the really complex World Builders Handbook for Megatraveller

theres a free program called Heaven and Earth wherre you can select the amount of complexity you want even

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  • 5 years later...

For those who want to create "realistic" alien worlds, there is an excellent computer program called "World Builder," originally written by Stephen Kimmel and published in Creative Computing back in June 1983.  It was updated and translated from BASIC into Perl in 2008 by a gentleman named David Myers.


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