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The art of Fantasy/Sci-fi World-Building: the most impressive

List the most impressive fictional worlds (as created by only one or two authors) you've come across that impressed you the most and why.

For me:

1) Middle-Earth from LOTR books, The Hobbit, The Silmarillon by J.R.R. Tolkien - probably the most complete fictional world created by one single person. Complete with the different lands, peoples, cultures, history, mythology and legends, and most impressive of all, a complete system of languages, all of which have become icons and standards of fantasy-writing.

2) Malazan World from the Book of the Malazan Fallen series by Steven Erikson assisted by Ian Esselmont. With 8 large books already published and 2 more on the way, Erikson has enough space to detail his amazing world of fantastic races, creatures, deities, fallen deities, would-be deities, creatures, countries, continents, legends, mysteries. And he did it in a way very few other fantasy writers attempted before - by creating ideas far-far away from the original template established by J.R.R. Tolkien

3) The World of Westeros from the Song of Ice and Fire series by George R.R. Martin. Martin made effective fantasy in a uniquely different way - by using magic as little as possible. It made Martin's realms feel real and solid. A place you can picture in your mind, with people you can understand and relate to, where everyone isn't entirely good or entirely evil but a mixture of both, just like in real life. It's no wonder that when you read Martin, it's almost like you're reading history rather than fantasy... until you meet the dreaded wights

4) Dune Universe from the Dune series by Frank Herbert. Dune takes the character of Frank Herbert's writing. Alluring, mysterious, enigmatic and beautiful. Anybody who read and loved the first book will always be haunted by the image of Dune forever.
(Note: I never considered the books by Brian Herbert and Kevin Anderson as a proper part of the Dune series. Their writing felt all wrong for Frank's creation.)

5) The world of Bas-lag from Perdido Street Station, The Scar, The Iron Council from China Mielville. Mielville's world epitomizes the self-description of his genre. Weird Fiction. Enter Bas-lag and be dazzled, confounded and amazed by creatures and things one never thought possible to exist in the imagination of any human being. Wow is a word that describes it. And I loved the fact that Hell has an embassy on the world and does business like any other office. Priceless.


  • accidentalheroaccidentalhero PEx Veteran ⭐⭐
    +1 on Middle Earth (need I mention the Arda language?)

    If Star Wars was spawned from a book, it would've topped my list. ;)
    But as it is, the movie came first before this deluge of books.

    I see Dune Universe listed #4 above. My dad owned these Herbert novels (I'm surprised they're that old ha-ha! My dad's 48!)

    Maybe I should visit his library one day and take a quick look. Nahihirapan lang akong basahin yun mga librong mejo yellow na yun kulay ng pages dahil sobrang luma na. (I thought then, they used a different printing paper.)
  • quick_benquick_ben PEx Rookie ⭐
    If Star Wars was spawned from a book, it would've topped my list. ;)
    But as it is, the movie came first before this deluge of books.

    I'll give some credit to Timothy Zahn in his Thrawn Trilogy, the official, immediate sequel to the movie Return of the Jedi. It was never adapted for film, but Zahn actually gave substance to the Star Wars Universe that seemed so shallow in George Lucas's hands. He introduced exciting characters like Mara Jade, Commander Thrawn, Captain Pelleon, Jorrus C'baoth and more. Introduced interesting races like the Noghri. I believe Zahn was single-handedly responsible for the Star Wars story into become a book franchise that spawned the deluge of books, as you said.

    He did a good job in writing an entertaining story, too, without being shackled by the established characters of the film and actually giving them substance. You ask me, the Star Wars universe belongs to him as much as George Lucas.
  • Agree with Tolkein's Middle Earth.

    Additional, not in order:

    William Gibson's The Sprawl.
    Asimov's Spacer and Settler Worlds, and The Foundation.
  • Meanie!!Meanie!! PEx Veteran ⭐⭐
    Malazan world. It's overflowing, and you can't really contain it.

    One more thing: I love how Erikson and Esselmont uses middle-Eastern, East-Asian and even African-like characters in their world. It transcends barriers and that for me, is cool.
  • EnosEnos PExer
    ^oo nga, umaapaw talaga ang malazan.
    kaso parang dragon ball pag minsan, andami nila super saiyan :lol:
    power level over 9000!

    di ko gusto dune series, yung first book lang.
    bilib ako sa world-building dun,
    parati ako feeling uhaw pag binabasa ko yun :lol:

    add ko din ang Hyperion, ayos pag-gamit ng twin paradox.
    plus teleportation portals :D
  • John Varleys Gaea sa Gaea Trilogy, astig kasi yun unang science fic world na napuntahan ko. Haha. Hinalo yung Greek mythos sa sci fi eh.
  • F-A SoldierF-A Soldier PEx Rookie ⭐
    Those guys that invented Dungeons and Dragons LOL.
  • QT IIQT II PEx Influencer ⭐⭐⭐
    Nehwon...and its major city, Lankhmar, from Fritz Leiber's Fafhrd & The Gray Mouser series is the best...

    Lankhmar makes me picture '40s era New York as filtered through Ancient Rome

    I also love Bas-Lag from China Mieville's trilogy (I have finished all THREE books...next stop/s...The City and The City and Kraken)
  • I'd day Dragonlance as depicted in the early novels of Margaret Weiss and Tracy Hickman.

    1. Compelling history. What is the Dragon Wars? Who was Huma? What caused the Cataclysm? How did the Dwarfgate Wars end? Dragonlance has a good mix of history coupled with mythology. The second trilogy Dragonlance Legends - a story that is so personal yet the ramifications are global. "What terrible hate... what terrible love!"

    2. Intricate characters. I think the most memorable characters are Raistlin and Caramon. Their personalities are complex and so is their relationship as twins.

    2. Memorable Quotes.

    "If I am to be judged by those who come after me, let me be judged for the truth."
    Raistlin Majere, Soulforge

    “We pity him. We hate him. We fear him – all because there is a little of him in each of us, though we admit it to ourselves only in the darkest part of the night.”

    Justarius, Time of the Twins

    "The darkenss might conquer, but it could never extinguish hope, and though one candle, or many, may flicker and die, new candles would be lit from the old. Thus hopes flame always burns, lighting the darkness until the coming of day."
    Tanis, Dragons of Spring Dawning

    I just love DL. Long live the Lance!
  • quick_benquick_ben PEx Rookie ⭐
    I like your choice. I loved the books.

    But I'd like to point out that the world wasn't created just by Weiss and Hickman, but by a whole team at TSR. Even the general plot wasn't entirely done by the two authors alone but a came from a series of game modules. Weiss and Hickman only adapted it for a novel and TSR was generous enough to allow only the two to be credited with the work.
  • +1 on LOTR - a lot of fantasy genres borrow from tolkien.

    DUNE is still unique and very integrated. Walang masyado nakasunod at nakagaya ng DUNE... well defined economy, culture, politics and theology...Silang dalawa ng LOTR and nasa top list ko.

    Sorry never heard of Malazana and Bas-lag. (idagdag ko sila sa mga must-read na list ko...ang dami na)

    OK *** ICE and FIRE individual characters pero hindo ako masyado impressed sa world building.

    Check out books by Carol Berg - Rai Kirah Series and Bridge of D'Arnath Series...very unique fantasy. The former gives a unique and fresh outlook on demonology...the latter is somewhat typical of fantasy novels

    OK din John Varley pero mas gusto ko *** nasa eight worlds trilogy especially steel beach ang golden globe. Speaking of John Varley... he is greatly influenced by Robert Heinlein...

    FUTURE History of Robert Heinlein is around forty books and many authors were influenced by him. One example is John Scalzi... maganda ang future world niya sa Old Men's War.

    TIMOTHY ZHAN...ooohhh..unang basa ko palang kay MARA JADE, idol ko na! I knew she would be the perfect mate for LUKE SKYWALKER! Memorable line: "You will kill Luke Skywalker!"

    I'm not a fan of Dragonlance...nabasa ko pero hindi ko na gusto ulitin... But I was impressed by Margaret Weiss' "Star of the Guardians Trilogy" - maganda ang sci-fi based on Ancient Roman Empire. Ayoko lang nga ending ni LORD SAGAN AND LADY MAIGREY (don't bother to read the fourth book in the trilogy...ngek) Another great work by Margaret Weiss was "Rose of the Prophet Trilogy" with a complex system of God's that neatly explains the major religions...

    more to come... marami pa ako favorites na hanapin ko pa pangalan ng authors and books kasi nalimutan ko na.

    SCI FI and FANTASY ADDICT... hehehe
  • COLD FIRE TRILOGY. C.S. Friedman. Reading this, you might think it is fantasy but it can also be qualified as science fiction.

    ENDER'S GAME and succeeding novels. Orson Scott Card. Ender's Game as a book does not offer much world-building, but the succeeding stories that continue the lives of the characters offer unique alien species and studies on dealing with aliens.

    PANDORA's STAR and JUDAS UNCHAINED. Peter Hamilton. Enter a world were space travel is obsolete because of wormholes... until they had to build a spaceship again.

    WITCHWORLD SERIES. Andre Norton. What if a guy is transported to a world where only women had powers. And he discovers that he is the only guy with powers to equal them...

    THE TALENTS SERIES. Anne McCaffrey. a world where telepathy is a major industry.

    DRAGONRIDERS OF PERN series. Anne McCaffrey. Learn to ride dragons or the world will perish!

    DARKOVER NOVELS. Marion Zimmer Bradley. Another great mixture of science fiction and fantasy.

    NIGHT WATCH and succeeding novels. SERGEI LUKYANENKO. where witchcraft is modernized and made cool. Although set in the modern world, his creative world-building is impressive in how he explains the twilight (gloom)...the other world where the characters draw power.

    NEUROMANCER and succeeding novels. William Gibson. He coined the world "cyberspace." And the future world he presents make cyber punk so cool.
  • Marami pa pero wait na lang ako ng mabanggit ng iba para exciting...
  • XANTH series. Piers Anthony. puns and literal meanings come alive... what a weird world...

    oooppps. can't resist adding the last one
  • ^sir ano po ba ang writing style ni William Gibson? I'm planning to buy Idoru kasi. Wala pa akong book niya.
  • quick_benquick_ben PEx Rookie ⭐

    ah'm impressed, sir.

    - nasimulan ko na ang COLDFIRE TRILOGY, so far so good.

    - naintriga ako on some of your choices. Will check them out. Thanks
  • @ blast dinosaur: medyo mahirap basahin si william gibson. he writes in an abbreviated/minimalist manner and he talks to you as if you're already familiar with his lingo. it's cool and adds flavor to his style but it takes several pages or chapters before you can adapt to his lingo and read his work smoothly.

    @ben. RE COLDFIRE TRILOGY. the main protagonists are hero and anti-hero forced to make an alliance. the background of the story is that scientists/colonists were stranded in a planet where their dreams/nightmares become reality. fast forward to several hundred years later when man has adapted to the planet and you have an interesting world that is the setting for the current story. this is what makes it an interesting sci-fi fantasy mix.

    Saan ka na ba? BLACK SUN RISING palang? Tell me what you think of gerald tarrant so far.
  • quick_benquick_ben PEx Rookie ⭐
    Black Sun pa lang
  • accidentalheroaccidentalhero PEx Veteran ⭐⭐
    bbb555 wrote: »
    XANTH series. Piers Anthony. puns and literal meanings come alive... what a weird world...

    oooppps. can't resist adding the last one

    I was waiting for someone to mention Piers Anthony. I won't dare LMAO. He's panned for his books and I don't know why. He's a good read if you have nothing else to do.
  • @bbb555

    too late I bought Idoru, first pages palang tama ka na! pero I enjoy it. haha. anyway have you read the books in the series Idoru is part of? kailangan bang basahin ko in a specific order?


    di ako nabili ng Piers Anthony books kasi ang cheesy nung mga covers hahaha...(sama ko)

    anyway I'll add this to the topic

    Xenogenesis by Octavia Butler... the alien species here manipulates the last remnants of humanity... basta kakaiba siya, haha
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