View Full Version : The Dreaded "Alternate Earth"
November 11th, 2004, 01:43 AM
So, what exactly does "alternate Earth" mean? Yes yes, I am aware it means a planet/place similar to the topography and/or physical properties of Earth. My real question is, when creating an "alternate Earth" or "Earth-like" planet, how far should you go in maintaining similar fauna (flora can stay nobody ever cares to describe the bushes ;))
We can say Tolkien modified the elephant into the oliphaunt, but he also used a lot of mundane creatures like ponies (specifically referencing to Bill). So in creating a world, should a writer take the time to completely generate all wildlife or should he be able to get by on just calling it a dog (assuming that for all working purposes, it is what we would know as a dog)?
What is your opinion?
November 11th, 2004, 02:25 AM
Alter it to where you need it to be for the story. I think the 'farther' away from our Earth, the stranger the alternative earth should be.
November 11th, 2004, 04:03 AM
Well, Lord of the Rings is set on our own planet Earth, but a very long time ago (hence the 'Middle Earth' tab). As a result it is unsuprising that he included some animals similar to their real-life counterparts - the Oliphaunt for example.
With regards to an 'alternate Earth' I think than generally there is not much to worry about in terms of flora - if you are writing a fantasy novel and in your first chapter your refer to a castle set on a hill above a small village of timber-framed dwellings, then people are going to automatically assume the setting is a quasi-European one and won't question it.
Fantasy literature has very strong links to European settings, to such an extent that it is almost subconscious in the minds of many readers.
November 11th, 2004, 12:37 PM
Alternate Earth actually refers to a specific type of story. It means a story where it is our Earth, but certain things in the history of it have changed, so that the Earth itself is now different. Additionally, alternate earth may refer to a story in which the main character moves from our current, regular Earth into an alternate world that co-exists next to our Earth and may or may not correspond to Earth, or into an alternate version of Earth. Such alternate earth stories can be either fantasy or sf.
But, if you're just talking about whether to use regular terms in a fantasy pseudo-Earth setting or not, the answer is however you decide you want to handle it. Right now, this is proving a tricky issue for me. Ah well.
November 11th, 2004, 02:49 PM
I think why elephant became oliphaunt in Tolken's books wasn't to hide that it was an elephant, but to make it more folksy because nobody knew how to pronounce or spell it properly.
Hobbits are stay-at-home creatures, not given much to roaming beyond the Shire. So the only oliphaunt they've ever encountered was in a story told around the fireplace.
Its better to call a dog a dog than to give it some new name, even if the dog's as big as a horse and wears a saddle.
November 11th, 2004, 03:19 PM
I think it is alright to do this as long as you don't really mess it up.
Example- Calling a dog a Zorlop or a cat a biner.
November 11th, 2004, 05:21 PM
Since we live in 10 dimensional space anyway, we already live in a collection of alternaties. (If your electron is a particle, you must have settled to one world) This is why it's so hard to get any two witnesses to agree to anything. It's just that most of the time we don't notice this constant change in the world around us, which is good because those who can see more than the normal four dims end up being schizophrenic. They feel like there is someone watching them, etc. etc. But as for divergent universes where evil (or good, as the case may be) versions of myself reside, I'm not so sure.
November 11th, 2004, 05:24 PM
No, you all feel that way. oops! ;)
When its an alternate timeline, things get strange. Some might think its fun to get a glimpse at how you're doing in alternate worlds but its the holes where you no longer exist that really bother you.
November 11th, 2004, 11:19 PM
Actually, I think the one that would really bother me is the alternate timeline where I married the psycho girlfriend from hell. :eek:
I really dodged a bullet there.
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