Monday, June 16, 2014

Worldbuilding: The Cosmopolitan Fantasy City

As I'm working my final edits for A Murder of Mages, I'm of course thinking about its sequel, which currently has the provisional title The Little East.   And with my plans for that, I'm getting to go deeper into an idea I had already been presenting for the city of Maradaine.

Fantasy, by its nature, tends to find Old World influences.  Western European being one of the biggest.*   The rest of the world, of course, gets a share of the representation, and even on occasion we see New World-- the Americas-- have an influence on fantasy worldbuilding.  But, of course, I'm talking about the pre-Columbian Americas there, up until 1491.

You don't see too much fantasy that draws influence from a more modern America-- and I'm talking secondary world fantasy, not urban fantasy.

Specifically, I'm talking about melting-pot cities, or at least cities where influences and enclaves from many places congregate and affect the primary culture.  The Little East works directly with that idea, as Maradaine is a highly cosmopolitan city, including sub-neighborhoods that are entirely peopled by foreigners and recent transplants.  Places where the culture is very different, and my main characters are essentially foreigners in their own city.  It also widens the amount of diversity I can have in Maradaine, instead of having it be just, in essence, all western-European types.

In addition, it gives me the opportunity to do the opposite of a travelogue-fantasy story. Instead of having characters go different places to see the different cultures... those cultures have come to the characters.  Plus, it lets me have those cultures interact with each other, and with the city, all on a micro scale.  Of course, to do that, a city must be well-defined.  You have to know the various neighborhoods, and who lives there, to include these foreign enclaves. 


*- Maradaine is no exception.  You'll see plenty of British and French in there.  That's not ALL you'll see, but it's clear where the primary cultural influences come from.

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