A World Of Elseworlds

We're in an age of remakes, sequels, and one-offs based on existing properties, mostly Superheroes.  I hear talk of an "originless" Fantastic Four film, and if you're a fan of DC comics I've seen a lot of direct-to-video films.  None of these involve the usual origins stories as their known to their target audience.  Many of them don't exactly involve a continuity of much kinds except well-known tropes and character backgrounds.

Years ago DC comics started doing things called "Elseworlds" – books of alternate ideas, histories, pasts, and futures of various characters.  These Elseworlds series mixed familiar and unfamiliar elements, and for my money, were often fascinating.  Batman as a priest fighting a corrupt theocracy?  A sword-and-sorcery Justice League?  Sign me up.

I think some of our beloved figures are entering an age of "mild" Elseworlds.

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Go Farther: Fiction Needs Irrelevance

When we build a world for our fictions, games, and shows, we construct cultures.  Cultures explain why people do what they do, how they think, why they eat, how they war, how they make peace, and more.  Culture is unavoidable when you make a setting – one could even argue that characters are often expressions of their cultures.

When we build these cultures we're often thinking about important things.  We want to know why characters believe as they do.  We want to explain why characters go where they go and do what they do.  We want to explain why magic is the prerogative of the ruling class, why there's a different language spoken on this distant space station, and so on.  We want to explain what matters – in short, cultures explain the Big Plot.

This is short-sighted.

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Go Farther: Fiction Needs Some Education

It appears I'm on a roll of late with "Go Farthers" for our fiction/setting writing audiences.  I'm not done of course – I'm just noting.

I've talked about how creating a new setting – or working with an old one – can be improved by thinking about economic issues.  I've discussed the importance of food in a setting – an area often ignored despite the fact that food and culturally related elements are telling an important.  So what's next?


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