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(Science Fiction Writing Series)

3.93  ·  Rating details ·  358 ratings  ·  27 reviews
This exciting series is designed to give SF writers the solid grounding they need in real science to make their fictions read like fact.
Hardcover, 198 pages
Published December 31st 1996 by Writer's Digest Books (first published January 1996)
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3.93  · 
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 ·  358 ratings  ·  27 reviews

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Jun 07, 2012 marked it as stalled  ·  review of another edition

Okay, only page 7 and I've already found a big error. The author says that the diameter of the earth is less than one millionth its distance from the sun. In km that's 12,756/149,598,000=0.00008, or less than one TEN-THOUSANDTH.

He then says even the diameter of the sun is less than one ten-thousandth the distance between Earth and Sun. But 1,391,000/149,598,000=0.009, i.e., less than ONE-HUNDREDTH.

WTF errors.



I don't fucking believe this. I final
Apr 16, 2014 rated it really liked it
World-Building is a difficult book to get into. It is subtitled, "A writer's guide to constructing star systems and life-supporting planets" but a more accurate subtitle is "A scientists's guide to writing accurately about star systems and life-supporting planets." That's a subtle difference, I know, but if you don't possess a base scientific literacy, you could easily get lost in the oceans of terminology.

The information World-Building presents, however, is useful, if you have an interest in ex
Jun 07, 2017 rated it liked it
This is a book on how to create a planet for storytelling, and it seems to be very thorough explanations of the science of geology and astrophysics. It's not "worldbuilding" in the typical literary sense of defining geography, cultures, history, etc. Very interesting for science fiction considerations. Although I simply scanned through most of the serious scientific equations and definitions, I did gain some insights I can use on current and future projects.
Catherine Cole
Dec 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Great, complete guide for worldbuilding in science fiction and fantasy.
It's easier to read by topic you need, as an encyclopedia, than as a novel, as it is a very technical, scientific read that can get heavy if read all at once. Give your brain time to absorb all that knowledge.
It's a good idea to double-check some planetary facts, as astrophysics and knowledge advance with every new discovery, as it should.
This book includes some equations to make the calculations you may need for your new pla
Pablo Flores
May 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
This slender volume is a must for serious world-builders. It's more than two decades old now, but of course, for the most part, physics and chemistry and most of astronomy have not changed that much, so the book has aged nicely, with the sole exception of exoplanets (Gillett can only hypothesize they exist, while now we know a couple of thousands and may confidently assume they're common throughout the universe).

Most of the material found in the book can now be found on the internet, but for the
Axa Vallotto
Sep 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: writing
Anche se ha ormai vent'anni, è un libro utilissimo come infarinatura generale per chi costruisce mondi fantascientifici - e, volendo, anche fantasy. Dà moltissimi spunti e ispirazioni e fa confronti con varie opere sci-fi.
Avrei solo preferito che approfondisse di più alcuni argomenti, ma l'ho trovato comunque un'ottima base di partenza.
Oct 30, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's a great book to have with you while writing a SF or a old earth and even dystopia. I encourage people to use this book with some others (science based or world building reference books) to make sure you're fully aware of what it takes to have and use the building blocks. It's easy to follow and good writing reference!
Jess Mahler
Jun 17, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: how-to
At first glance, this book looks like it will mainly be of interest to hard-science fiction writers.

That's... half true.

Honestly, the science gets very heavy at times, and the math... oy, the math. Let's say I didn't retain much of the details.

What I did come away with was a much greater understanding of the options for creating realistic or plausible planets and solar systems that are far outside of the usual Earth-analogs. And a better grasp of what the different labels for stars mean.

Highly r
David Leemon
If you want to write science fiction that takes place on other planets, then you should read this book.
Daniel Farrelly
Basically a run down of Earth's history and our solar system with small references to fictional works
This book, written by a sci-fi author with a PhD in geology, is explicitly targeted at science fiction writers and covers world-building: literally. It is comprehensive in its description of the physics of star and planet formation and will tell you everything you need to know (and possibly more than you want to know) about astronomy, planetology, astrophysics, and chemistry. Short of taking a few college-level courses, you probably can't get a better education that's sufficient to write "hard S ...more
Jan 12, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Well, this is a case of getting exactly what I was going for. I just read it in one go for now, to see what aspects of world-building it touches upon, and my copy is already filled with quickly torn-off pieces of paper stuck in there as reminders to myself: 'please consider this'.
Anyway, it's a book that's quite scientific at points, but makes up for it by providing ready examples of situations on Earth, or just simple comparisons to make sense of it all. There's quite some humor in there as we
Another book in the Science Fiction Writing Series, put out by Writers Digest. Geologist and astronomer Dr. Stephen Gillett approaches the science of creating planets in other solar systems in a fairly simple, easy-to-understand method for the layman. Chapters in this helpful volume include Why World-Build?, The Astronomical Setting, Making a Planet, The Earth, The Ancient Earth, The Other Planets, Stars and Suns, and Not As We Know It. Although a little understanding of geology, astrophysics an ...more
Michelle Hammond
Sep 17, 2012 rated it really liked it
I've seen others post about math errors in this book, and that's disappointing because that's why I bought this book -- for its promise of formulas and astrophysics in simple language for those of us who are not astrophysicists. (Yes, that would be me.) The section of the book that comes closest to fulfilling my need is in Chapter 7: Stars and Suns. Called "Putting It Together: The Planet of a Small Red Star", this section works step-by-step through an example in which, using formulas described ...more
Jun 09, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Awesome book for figuring out all the science stuff I never learned or didn't pay attention to in school.

I am an English major who likes to read and write science fiction. But, before reading this book, I really did not know how to go about creating other worlds or making things feel more authentic.

I don't go as far as the author (and other hard science fiction fans) about the absolute need for such attention to details because I feel that my audience is broader and won't care (or know) about wh
Stephanie Carroll
Jan 02, 2014 rated it liked it
I skimmed this title as I was preparing to write my sci-fi novel but it really just kind of repeated the obvious and I didn't get much out of it. However, as a writer whose already put out one title and has another written, I think I have a lot of experience fleshing out a story than most people who are just starting out.

I do think this would be a great title for new writer who has a sci-fi idea but doesn't know what to do or where to go with that idea. This book does have great info for someon
Sean Mumford
Jan 29, 2012 rated it really liked it
A solid book overall that gives you a high-level overview of designing worlds from scratch, all the way from star formation to alternative forms of biochemistry (and the all of the caveats along the way). The only thing I wished this book had was a kind of "workshop" at there end where the author takes us through the process of designing a world from scratch by creating a few "sample" planets with varying environments.
Doug Farren
Jul 06, 2014 rated it really liked it
There is a lot of information in this book. My recommendation is to read it and then use it later on as a reference when building planetary systems. Some of the explanations seemed to gloss over the information leaving me wishing for more details and a better reason as to 'why' things were the way they were. But, overall, this is a good book for anyone wishing to build an alien planet. Now if I could only find the material...
World-Building is a great tool for writers' looking to accurately flesh out fantasy or science fiction worlds. I think it's also an interesting, sideways approach to learning about the universe and planetary construction. It's not recent enough to include information on some of the distant super-earths discovered or Planet 9, but it gives an easy to understand overview of the basics of planetary possibilities.
Aug 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Meant for the aspiring SF author this books provides the important foundational knowledge of astrophysics to help the author build up an environment of stars, galaxies and planets based on correct scientific facts. A must read for authors attempting hard SF.
Jul 05, 2010 marked it as to-read
Very interesting book about basic astrophysics and planetary geology
Ben Aaronovitch
Jul 16, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, research
Lots of interesting stuff but let down by a lack of clarity.
C. R. Powers
Apr 14, 2014 rated it it was ok
Helpful but difficult to understand, and very hard to duplicate in terms of world building. Overly technical. How can you create that which does not let you develop an understanding?
Oct 08, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As a science-fiction writer I found this a valuable resource. It explained concepts in a easy to understand manner while laying out the foundational science behind them.
Jun 22, 2015 rated it really liked it
For someone who's into science this is a geeky way of world building for writers, but if you're not too into science then it could be dry and arduous.
DT Krippene
Jan 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Most amazing book for anyone building worlds in science fiction. Toned for the non-science oriented writer, but plenty of meaty calcs for those daring to test their knowledge.
Tanz Sixfingers
rated it it was amazing
Sep 08, 2011
Dustin R
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Nov 12, 2014
Ben Wilson, Author
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Travis Witthuhn
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