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Asraloth
May 27th, 2003, 11:41 PM
i hear a lot of people on these and other boards talk about 'eastern' or 'western' settings etc in regards to fantasy worlds. in my book, i have attempted to combine aspects of these and other cultures. but from the fantasy i've read and comments from people on this board it seems that the worlds of the genre are either in bastardized versions of medieval europe, or something akin to the east for the most part.

i've got a bit of anxiety over this, because my book contains a world which includes aspects of all my favourite cultures meshed rather well into one (i think, or hope). i have mixed aspects of medieval feudalism and christianity with Hindu, aztec, japanese, african, ancient greek and egyptian into one culture, but not entirely based on either one.

the reason i'm anxious is because i've never seen this done to great extent in fantasy. its usually a feudal european-like world, but can't comprise aspects of anything else or based heavily on some other culture or period of time in history. whether i'm being original or pretensious i suppose you cant tell unless you read the book, but if there are some examples of 'meshed' worlds in the genre, could someone point them out to me, just to set my mind at ease i suppose.

someone on another board pointed out to me "The Chosen" by Ricardo Pinto. i'll have a look at that, but there has to be other examples of "culture blending."

and also does anyone have any opinions on this form of world-building.

p.s. i realise world-building in a story is nothing without character and plot, and i'm confident i have those down pat, this is just a concern i have with my imagined world (not that i think it sucks, just if it is "allowed" i suppose within the genre, or if its a no-no).

pps. i do read widely in the genre but i've yet to find a successful example of "culture-blending."

Bardos
May 28th, 2003, 02:53 AM
A bit out of topic, but I was wondering, has anyone created a culture of their own making? Non-european, non-african, non-eastern, but something totaly new?

I, Brian
May 28th, 2003, 03:55 AM
Asraloth

I think you have an interesting sounding concept, and wouldn't worry too much about it. Essentially the world is the background to a story - it's the characters and plot that are the foreground. Get those right and your story walks. IF not, it falls.

Personally, my main resource are the cultures of the Mediterranean basin.

KatG
May 28th, 2003, 02:40 PM
Originally posted by Asraloth
i hear a lot of people on these and other boards talk about 'eastern' or 'western' settings etc in regards to fantasy worlds. in my book, i have attempted to combine aspects of these and other cultures. but from the fantasy i've read and comments from people on this board it seems that the worlds of the genre are either in bastardized versions of medieval europe, or something akin to the east for the most part.

i've got a bit of anxiety over this, because my book contains a world which includes aspects of all my favourite cultures meshed rather well into one (i think, or hope). i have mixed aspects of medieval feudalism and christianity with Hindu, aztec, japanese, african, ancient greek and egyptian into one culture, but not entirely based on either one.

the reason i'm anxious is because i've never seen this done to great extent in fantasy. its usually a feudal european-like world, but can't comprise aspects of anything else or based heavily on some other culture or period of time in history. whether i'm being original or pretensious i suppose you cant tell unless you read the book, but if there are some examples of 'meshed' worlds in the genre, could someone point them out to me, just to set my mind at ease i suppose.

someone on another board pointed out to me "The Chosen" by Ricardo Pinto. i'll have a look at that, but there has to be other examples of "culture blending."

and also does anyone have any opinions on this form of world-building.

p.s. i realise world-building in a story is nothing without character and plot, and i'm confident i have those down pat, this is just a concern i have with my imagined world (not that i think it sucks, just if it is "allowed" i suppose within the genre, or if its a no-no).

pps. i do read widely in the genre but i've yet to find a successful example of "culture-blending."
Well, you have Jordan, who has a bunch of red-haired white folk acting like Arab tribespeople and sneaks eastern traditions into various otherwise European-style countries, and who has a black-skinned Empire act like the ancient Chinese. You have a lot of folk who have their Europeans as the main setting and then have those characters go visit Arab, Asian or African-type settings like Eddings and Tad Williams. You have Charles de Lint, who does urban fantasy, blending Irish, Amerindian and North American mythology with a touch of Hindu here and there. You have Neil Gaiman, who also does urban fantasy, having everybody from the Celts to the Egyptian gods in "American Gods." A lot of the times, cultural borrowing is fairly subtle.

Everybody followed Tolkein at first, and Camelot and Charlemagne and Grimm's fairy tales, and that meant dancing down the European aisle. Actually, not even European for the most part -- Celtic. But there's branching out -- authors are headed into the Renaissance period of history or going into ancient history instead of just the medieval period, authors are trying previously ignored cultures like the Aztecs, there are more "eastern" settings coming into play and fusion -- what you are doing -- is certainly becoming more common. I don't know if it's possible to create a completely original culture, as Bardos suggests; I don't know how one would go about it even, but certainly, mixing it up can only be a good thing.

One problem a lot of folk may have is access to info. I tried to find some folklore for a particular country in books at the library and on the Net. Got a bit of info from travel books, but otherwise, it was not easy to find. I could find plenty of info on the Celts, the Norse, the ancient Greco-Romans, the Chinese, even the Russians, -- the popular kids, one could say, but if I want to find say, mythology from Hungary or Malaysia, you have to go begging. :)

I, Brian
May 28th, 2003, 04:13 PM
If anyone need info on folklore, mythology, or the like, feel fre to ask me and I'll do some research for you. :)

milamber_reborn
May 28th, 2003, 11:53 PM
I wrote a short story last year with an Aztec styled culture. I always strive to use different settings and cultures. Everything from gypsies to jungle tribes to pilgrims.

Bardos
May 29th, 2003, 02:49 AM
I, Brian, do you have any linx about cultures in mind?

Please, drop them below, if you do. ;)

pcarney
May 29th, 2003, 08:48 AM
As long as the cultures are mixed logically, I think there's no problem with combining aspects.

The thing I'm trying to work on more, when I create a culture, is to differentiate how the culture thinks in comparison to another culture on the same planet. I browsed through a book a few weeks ago that compared Germans, French and Americans, and how different their thought processes can be. For example, the Germans take roughly 2x longer than Americans when answering a question or making a decision. I think its things like this, even more then appearance, social customs and such, that truly differentiate between cultures, real or otherwise.

I've always thought that coming up with an alien culture is the toughest assignment. It seems like a lot of times writers simply amplify a human culture, change the appearance of the citizens and that's it. Is it even possible to describe how an alien thinks..as we can only formulate it in human terms? I guess its akin to writing characters that are much more intelligent then you are...tough, but do-able.

KatG
May 29th, 2003, 11:22 AM
And did this study include the French citizens who come originally from Nigeria? How about the German citizens who come from Poland? And for the States, how about New Englanders versus Californians versus Southerners versus American citizens in Ohio who originally came from Bangladesh? I'd be willing to bet that there would be some differences in how long they took to answer questions, say. A random sampling from various countries does not a scientifically sound cultural generalization make, especially in the U.S. where geographically and culturally, you're looking at 11 different regions just to start with: the East Coast, the South, Texas, the Southwest, the West Coast, the West, the Mid-West, New England, Hawaii, Florida and Alaska. Aside from perhaps McDonald's restaurants, trying to define the "American mind-set" is like looking at a buzzing beehive and claiming there's only one bee there. The Canadians have the same problem.

So, really, the idea of fusing a lot of cultures together into one is exactly what happens in the real world already. :)

pcarney
May 29th, 2003, 12:09 PM
Originally posted by KatG
And did this study include the French citizens who come originally from Nigeria? How about the German citizens who come from Poland? And for the States, how about New Englanders versus Californians versus Southerners versus American citizens in Ohio who originally came from Bangladesh? I'd be willing to bet that there would be some differences in how long they took to answer questions, say. A random sampling from various countries does not a scientifically sound cultural generalization make, especially in the U.S. where geographically and culturally, you're looking at 11 different regions just to start with: the East Coast, the South, Texas, the Southwest, the West Coast, the West, the Mid-West, New England, Hawaii, Florida and Alaska. Aside from perhaps McDonald's restaurants, trying to define the "American mind-set" is like looking at a buzzing beehive and claiming there's only one bee there. The Canadians have the same problem.

So, really, the idea of fusing a lot of cultures together into one is exactly what happens in the real world already. :)

Scientific or not, the book opened my eyes as to how cultures could vary beyond outward appearances - something I'm going to apply to my fantasy worldbuilding.

And Canadians have a lot of problems..such as their southern neighbors ;)