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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
There are so many high fantasy fans out there--me included! I still rank childhood discoveries like The Once and Future King at the top of my "Best Ever" lists. That kind of world buidling is an amazing escape. In fact, I'm currently racing through David Webber's "Honor" series. Just found them through a friend. Can't get enough.

But... I also love the near-there, fringe science we're seeing more and more. The story concepts that are so contemporary, you could almost imagine them happening to you or someone you know. In fact, I'm digging this kind of fantasy adventure the most right now. It and non-fiction that supports the science behind these "almost here" worlds, like Michio Kaku's books.

My question for The Book Corner--How contemporary do you prefer your sci-fi/fantasy world building?

Do you want other worlds and galaxies and civilzations and cultures in your escapist fiction, or is the here and know a fascinating fantasy land for you, too?
 

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Both can work for me as long as the world building is detailed and well done. I think in general, at least as far as worlding building, contemporary would be easier to write and may come across as more realistic. But again, I enjoy both. It just depends on the story. I hope that answers the question.  :)
 

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I write stuff that is just a little off from the world we know. I don't have to build a world, just describe what everyone sees around them. I am taking on the challenge of building other worlds now, and it is a lot harder. As for reading, I like both, but if there is a fantasy or science fiction world it has to be convincing.
 

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For fantasy, I'd prefer to have it not set in something like today's world. If it is too contemporary, I can't help asking myself "Does this mesh with what we know of today's world? If this fantastic element were added to today's world, would this be an accurate depiction?"

For science fiction, I don't generally like works to be set too far in the future, because then technology would get too advanced, and lead to a lot of anachronisms unless the author is very good at thinking through all the implications of technological advancement. If the story is set too close to the present, then current technology becomes anachronistic, if, for example, alien tech is introduced that would make current tech obsolete.

Making works take place in the present time eliminates world creation, as you just have to understand the current world (no easy task itself!), but you have to be able to change the world based on the implications of adding fantastic or technological additions.
 

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I definitely prefer contemporary--this worldly--fantasy with otherworldly aspects. I do read and like fantasy set in entirely made up worlds--Pratchett's Discworld, Abercrombie's First Law books, Lies of Locke Lamora, etc., but there's something very compelling about magic in this world.  I like near-ish future SF as well--Gibson, Richard Morgan, Stross, not a huge fan of far future stuff.

Chris 
 

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I don't think I have any preference, but anything "near contemporary" tends to become dated more quickly, I think, which can sometimes jerk you out of that willing suspension of disbelief thing if you don't get around to reading it soon after it's published (depending a lot on how the author wrote it and depended on current cultural and technological references).
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I'd say I'm in love with fantasy, just the "near-there" kind. I love reading all of it, but the imagination of making what we know seem like shadows with meanings we never saw before we read about them is a magical thing. Maybe I've never felt like I'm completely living in this one place and time. Maybe I've always listened for whispers and looked for things that make me gasp, sometimes wanting them there more than I do the here and now. But these are the things I love to have books help me see more clearly, so they can be more real. They make the every day enchanting  ;)

 

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I like a range - I like high fantasy with completely unassociated worlds, and I like stories like Diana Wynne Jones' Chrestomanci series, where it's an 'almost-Earth' with possibly modern technology, but different.

I sometimes read Urban Fantasy, but not often.

I like far-future Science Fiction. :)
 

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I like a range as well. My favorites are "second world" fantasy and far future sf, but urban fantasy and near future sf also interests me.
 
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I gravitate toward high fantasy and far-future science fiction (loves me some space opera), but I want the world to be relevant. Authors lose me, sometimes, when the world is so archaic or so fantastical that none of the issues the characters are dealing with are anything I can identify with.

 

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NogDog said:
I don't think I have any preference, but anything "near contemporary" tends to become dated more quickly, I think, which can sometimes jerk you out of that willing suspension of disbelief thing if you don't get around to reading it soon after it's published (depending a lot on how the author wrote it and depended on current cultural and technological references).
I tend to agree with this ... something written near time in the 1980's is often full of quaint technological or geo-political advances when re-reading today. For example, I just finished reading Code of the Lifemaker which was set about 20 years in our future and written in 1983 and is based on a geo-political world still in the cold war.

Most of the time, though, when I encounter that sort of thing, I take it in the same context that I take Victorian Science fiction or 1950s looks at the year 2000 .... it really doesn't lower my opinion of the book - but it is more jarring in a book written in the past 30-40 years than in one written 50 or more years ago.

But, I like both. I read urban fantasy and High Medieval Fantasy ... and future fantasy. I also read Space Opera, near future Science Fiction - including all the 'punks' ...
 

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I like world building that is thorough and built from a solid base.

Civilisations should rise and fall and be followed by new civilisations. That means politics and borders should move with time, and technology should also progress. I feel uncomfortable to read about a kingdom that has been there in much the same form for a thousand years (or worse, eight thousand years), yet not progressed at all. Too many series ignore what the passage of time does to not just the land, but peoples and nations.
 

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You know, I used to wonder why science fiction and fantasy are grouped together. In my mind, there was a clear distinction: Fantasy = past (medieval-like, swords and such), Sci-fi = future (space travel and aliens). Of course, I have learned long ago that all kinds of combinations are possible, but I still tend to think this way. So for fantasy, I prefer medieval settings. I also prefer books where there is no connection to our world, the whole story takes place somewhere else.  :)
 

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Do you care where and when those swords are used? ;)

For reading, I don't care so much about the setting as I care that setting is well-built and believable.

For writing, I set my fantasy in the modern world.  It's how I see things - as they could be, if only...
 

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NogDog said:
I don't think I have any preference, but anything "near contemporary" tends to become dated more quickly, I think, which can sometimes jerk you out of that willing suspension of disbelief thing if you don't get around to reading it soon after it's published (depending a lot on how the author wrote it and depended on current cultural and technological references).
Like Mary Shelley's "The Last Man"
 

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I'm not much of a fan of contemporary fantasy because I feel that a world just like our "except magic is real" is a total cop-out. Imagine how different our world, from religious institutions, military developments, engineering feats, and social norms would be radically altered if folks could actually run around casting spells, even relatively minor ones, even if they stuck to the shadows. This is why the Harry Potter series is both intriging and infuriating. Initially the wizarding world and the mundane were essentially seperate, but as they mixed together more and more the wizarding world seemed less and less magical and more of a less efficient replica of our world.

Dan Abnett wrote a book called "Triumff:Her Magisty's Hero" where England developed along magical lines while other parts of the world developed electrical based technology. It works because it is a satire, even though I think a battleship would have blasted all their magic powered galleys into dust. The Desden "magic in the shadows" is tolerable, but even those type books eventually reach the point where you wonder why the magical have not just overrun the rest of us.

And of course I make an exception for magic/supernatural horror, which I have no problem being set in contemporary times. Hypocritical? Yes :)
 

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Do you care where and when those swords are used?
The best part of "The Matrix Reloaded", an otherwise forgettable film, is the wholly gratuitous five-minute anti-gravity kung fu swordfight in the middle of the movie.

I like swordfights. I wouldn't want to participate in one, or see a real one, but I enjoy reading about them and watching them in films.
 

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When I read for pleasure, I prefer the far future or far past and the more extreme fantasy world-building.

But when I want to think a bit more and challenge myself, then I do like the more contemporary or near-future books.
 
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