Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Astor: Origins and Overview

Cameron's post about pictures that inspired him to create Roger Ray got me thinking about where Astor came from.

I was alarmed when nothing immediately came to mind. I could post a number of fantastic, evocative landscape paintings that I found via Google Image, but I didn't look for them until the world was completely formed in my mind, and nothing quite fits what I picture in my mind.

Astor isn't similar to any sci-fi/fantasy universe that I am familiar with. It bears a superficial resemblance to Terry Pratchett's Discworld which ends after "Astor is disc-shaped". Hell, Astor isn't really even disc-shaped; after I explained what the place looked like to Cam, he came up with the 'badly frayed blanket' analogy which works much better.

Bits and pieces of the story I have in mind are similar to other stories I've read. In my next post, I will publish my 'cloud of plot points' OneNote page for dissection, and we can see what is original and what is derivative.

The characters, fortunately, don't bear more than passing resemblance to any existing characters that I am familiar with. We'll see if that holds true as they develop.

So, where does Astor come from? It officially started when Becca and I were on our way home from the grocery store, talking about how there aren't any new ideas anymore, only creative (or uncreative) rehashes of old ideas. Then she started thinking out loud about a world that grows organically, like roots from an impossibly large tree. It captured my imagination immediately, and as soon as I got home I jotted down everything we had talked about after that initial concept. I still have those notes somewhere. Maybe I should scan them and stick them here.

Astor was originally very much like a system of roots, with some rather mind-bending geography that allowed its denizens to look up and see other 'branches' of the world floating above them. Unfortunately, this was a bit too mind-bending, and I was having a lot of trouble mapping it out. I took things down a notch by having Astor be more like a wagon wheel, with a central point (the Core) and numerous 'spokes' jutting out from it every direction. The world was flat, however, which cause a number of new problems, not the least of which that this concept bored me. Becca stepped in at this point, because I was getting a bit frustrated, and suggested that an organic, growing world could easily have a large, usable landmass surrounding the Core, where the oldest roots have twined together so thoroughly that they basically look like solid terrain. Furthermore, this gave me an excellent way to explain the existence of mountains (where the roots dipped above average altitude) and valleys/bodies of water (where the roots dipped below average altitude). At the edges of Astor, bare roots are visible (and in some instances traversable, though laws of reality like gravity become thinner at the Edge) as they snake across the Void, searching hungrily for second worlds to devour.

Here is a horrible MS Paint picture of Astor. It looks like a black sun with measles, but it gets the point across (maybe?).

Note that the place where this story takes place (the Azrim Empire) is considered vast by any historical standard, and it only takes up one little corner of Astor.

1 comment:

  1. Looks more like the FSM, but even so, it proves the old adage "A picture is worth a thousand words" completely true.