The fantasy genre, in my personal opinion, is all about world building. Once is just that: world building. In conjunction with my highly descriptive writing style, the need to explain an alternate fantasy world inflates any fantasy novel and series, Once: The Lost Book of Cain is a whopping one-hundred and eighty thousand words, written at over five-hundred pages. This was after about seven rounds of editing. Being that this is my first full length manuscript, I’m admittedly a newbie to the writing world, but I love description, and at times, can be very overly descriptive. I’m not going to go too far out on a limb and say I’m as descriptive as Robert Jordan, creator of the Wheel of Time, or descriptive to the extent of Washington Irving when he took a good two pages to describe Ichabod Crane in the Legend of Sleepy Hollow, but I have the ability to annoy a reader with description. Again, being a newbie to the writing scene, and especially the fantasy genre, I’m still in figure-it-out mode, yet after coming across some awesome sites such as WritersDigest, I can claim with confidence I’ve grown as a writer.
Today I want to touch up on my fantasy world, which I’ve taken a rather different approach to building. While this an alternate world where the “laws of physics and nature” differ from our boring, real world, it is a stark mirror image of our real world. What I’m going to do is compare and contrast Earth from a world I’ve dubbed Gaia, my influences behind it (as described in earlier posts), and what makes that world so unique in the realm of fantasy.
I decided to create this fantasy world much like our real world, so the reader could identify better with the images created in the mind. In this world, we have many modern-day technologies, such as cell phones, television, internet, air travel, automobiles, modern-day weaponry (it is a war tale), and many other modern amenities. I did this because much of the population do not possess fantastical abilities seen with many of the main characters. This is very much like the Muggle World versus the Wizarding World in Harry Potter, with one huge difference: the two worlds are intertwined, and they interact with one another. In other words, those without abilities go to the same school as those with abilities, are next door neighbor, are aware of the other’s existence, powers, etc. I like to refer to this as everyone possessing different abilities, since this something we see in the world today.
Remember when the term ‘disabled’ or ‘handicapped’ was thrown around because perhaps some individuals possessed ability outside the “status-quo?” Today, we’re enlightened enough to realize that some of us are differently-abled. For example, I’m typically deemed as socially awkward, withdrawn, and reclusive, but this isn’t the case! I simply love to listen, observe, and of course, get lost in my own fantasy world. Secondly, when I take the time to pen something, everyone sees me in a new light and I’m no longer deemed socially awkward, shielded, or anything of the sort. I just communicate better when I’m writing things down. I’m not a backward individual; I’m simply lost in thought. Studies show there are more extroverts than introverts, so obviously, the extroverts outnumber us introverts, therefore this becomes status-quo. Many of us who write better than we speak in person (often sputtering, stuttering, and slurring words) simply communicate differently. The very same logic applies to the ability versus non-ability theme in Once. On one side of the equation, you have those with abilities who are very, very gifted in combat, communication with the World of Void or Spirit World, can invade the mind, hide thought, possess, and see something before the occurrence. However, most are very, very inefficient when it comes to firing a weapon. Those without ability are not going to produce anything supernatural, but they’re going to be much more proficient in other avenues, such as marksmanship.
Also, although they’re still not of equal physical strength, females do possess greater physical strength and athletic ability in comparison to the men in Once. This is shown on the shotball field, but would also be present in all other sports. In Gaia, all sports are co-ed, as gender discrimination faded long ago due to the rather identical strengths in athletic ability seen by both genders.
Racial discrimination, however, does exist, and it’s an important theme to hit hard on. One of my main characters is of the minority race (those with native blood in Columbia are called Native Columbians, much like the Native American race in America), yet it’s my personal belief they become a fan favorite due to their traits, personality, and fierceness. They’re one of the characters that will literally steal the heart of many readers and will give my protagonist a run for their money in terms of overall popularity. Why market a character of a minority race in this work? This one is to prove a point, because to this day, racism still strongly exists in both the north and south. We see this not only with race, but with ethnic groups. Think about it, many White Christians wish for a wall to be built on the southern border or a travel ban issued to Muslims. Being a self-described Libertarian, I’m all for open borders and anyone is welcome in America, but I’m not a strong believer in the welfare system helping anyone out, be it an immigrant or someone who was born on this soil. Come into the country, but make your way. Trust me, you’ll find people who will be more than glad to help you out. It’s all about finding them. In all, my true point is to prove regardless of race or ethnicity, you can and will make an impact and move mountains.
The above outlines many comparisons made between Gaia and our own Earth. Now I’d like to dive deep into what makes Gaia unique and different from Earth. Here is where many of my actual influences come into play. First off, about ten percent of the population in Columbia possess special abilities, ranging from element control of fire, wind, earth, water, Void, blood, wood, and metal, to aura rays (conjuring different lights, a very underrated yet useful ability), communication with the World of Void as seen in those who possess mastery in Void control, smoke travel (ability to burst into smoke and travel in smoke form to another location), windsurf (utilized by those who can control wind), spirit travel (some have the ability to travel from portals from the physical world to the World of Void), fire travel (burst into flames and travel in flame form), mindtravel (ability to invade the minds of others), earth travel (travel through the earth and ending up in a different location), water travel (literally turn into or walk atop water to get to a destination), and mind-defend (ability to defend the mind against foreign invaders). These are only a distinct handful of abilities seen, some utilized more than others, depending upon how many in the population possess the ability.
Also, while the landscape may be similar to Earth, Gaia may either be a spinning ball or a flat, stationary circular disk. This is something I don’t intend to reveal yet, but this issue pops up occasionally. Also, the Southpoint Empire is located within a country known as Southland, on the continent of Eura. This draws a comparison between Southpoint and the British Empire, while Eura sounds much like Europe. Also, Lourdes and Madridia are Gaia versions of France and Spain, respectively. Columbia may be compared to America, while Kanata is the Gaia version of Canada, and Azteca stands for Mexico. While I dotted similarities between the names of the countries, I must stress the cultures, landscapes, locations, and geographic climate of these colonies and countries are not consistent with Earth’s! The reader will likely draw many comparisons, but the size, shape, and everything mentioned above are by no means consistent with one-another. For example, the Columbian landscape is much smaller than that of modern-day America. Azteca, which lays to the south of Columbia, is also smaller, and only lays to the southwest. Kanata, on the other hand, is only northwest of Columbia, as Columbia lies to both the southeast and east of Kanata. For that, Kanata is landlocked to the east, as is Azteca.
When it comes to the continent of Eura, there are very few countries, which is also a contrast from the continent of Europe. Southland is the mirror-image of England, while Ddraigoch (Wales) lies to the west, and Edinboro (Scotland), to the north. Also, within mainland Europe, there is Valainia (Scandinavia), Lourdes (France), Madridia (Spain), Hessia (Germany, Austria, Hungary, Poland), Romatica (Italy, southeast Europe), and Mosca (Russia, and eastern countries). Keep in mind this is a modern-day conflict.
So, what exactly is Southpoint? I’ve originated the Southpoint name from the words ‘south’ and ‘point.’ I wanted the reader to easily identify who the villain is, and south always points down, while point gives the Empire’s persona being the “southernmost point.” Very identical to “bottomless pit” in the Christian Bible. Not only this, but Southland is ironically very far north, yet derives its name from Edinboro being north, hence the name Southland. A second reason I’ve dubbed the name Southpoint Empire is due to the fact the entire empire lies south of Southland. In every single region, including Columbia, the occupied zones all lay south of Southland, giving the name Southpoint. Southpoint also maintains a large presence in the following comparable areas upon Gaia that can be comparable to Earth: West Oceanics (what would be Southeast Asia and Oceania), Origin Nations of East Afrikaana (the oldest known human settlements in Gaia are in East Afrikaana, which is indeed Africa, controlled by Southpoint), Central and South Afrikaana (Central African Republic and South Africa), and Gaza (modern day Israeli, Palestinian land). I’d love to create a world map of Gaia, but this outline gives one a decent idea of the similarities of Gaia as compared to our own world, yet differences as well. When an actual map is drawn up, the reader will see even further differences. I went with rather identical names of many of the regions since they can easily be found on a map of our real Earth and the reader will have a general idea of their locations.