I’ve been thinking a lot lately about world building because Earth Legend, my work in progress takes place on a space ship. The space ship in Earth Legend is intentionally designed to resemble Earth so that when the colonists, who have been in transit for up to a hundred years, reach their destination, they’ll feel comfortable in an Earth-like setting instead of wanting to remain forever on the ship because they’ve gotten used to it. Or, in some cases, lived in it their entire lives.
Because the ship resembles Earth, I hoped not to have to do a lot of world building. Because it’s hard and because I hate worlds that are so fake I’m embarrassed for the writer. I didn’t want to be embarrassed for me.
Where to start? With crops, of course, because it’s the story of a self-sustaining, greenhouse-imitating space ship. So how do you grow crops in a space ship in which gravity is the result of the ship revolving? There’d be gravity on the inside of the outermost skin and that’s where everyone would live. But would you have rain? Rain falls from the sky. In the case of the ship, that’s the middle and there’s no gravity there. So no rain because, without gravity it wouldn’t fall. So how to water crops? And what if the ship stopped spinning for some reason? Hitting an asteroid. Mechanical problems. Whatever. Can’t have the trees, crops, and everything else fall upwards and suffocate everyone. So what to do?
It was easy. I imagined a dirt substitute, a substance that stays put and hold plants tightly, a membrane if you will, through which nutrient-rich water seeps to feed everything. And know what I realized? There already is such a substance or pretty close. It’s found on many of those rooftop gardens that are now so popular.
So maybe world building isn’t so tough after all. And maybe the best place to find ideas for other worlds is right here in our own.