PDA

View Full Version : leisure and lifestyle in your SF/F world....



preyer
04-14-2005, 01:04 AM
is this an oft-overlooked aspect of world building? does it seem like we know everything else about the politics, laws, religion, etc., except what people do to pass the time? is it sometimes better to build the drama gradually, or do modern stories demand almost instant action?

GailKavanagh
04-14-2005, 07:28 AM
I think it should be a pretty important part of world building, especially sports, but the only stories I I can call to mind where sport is an integral part of the action are quidditch in Harry Potter, blitzball in Final Fantasy X and that basketball game they played in the first Battlestar Galactica TV series.
I like to see a world with some defining sport or leisure activity - as JK Rowling said, `one of the unifying characteristics of any given society is sport'.
Maybe I just read the wrong books.


Gail Kavanagh

katiemac
04-14-2005, 08:20 AM
You're legit, Gail. Since most fantasies border around a quest-trotting hero, there really isn't much free time in the lives of characters. However, I remember reading novels where the characters told folktales, played games (something like jacks or checkers), read the newspaper. A sport seems like a great, and often overlooked, aspect of leisure.

Sex. That's a good one, too.

SeanDSchaffer
04-14-2005, 09:04 AM
is this an oft-overlooked aspect of world building? does it seem like we know everything else about the politics, laws, religion, etc., except what people do to pass the time? is it sometimes better to build the drama gradually, or do modern stories demand almost instant action?


When I was building up my fantasy world, I poured my imagination into lots of stuff: religion, politics, by-laws for the government to follow, etc. But I don't think I ever put any time into developing what people do to pass the time. It never honestly crossed my mind.

But now that I think about it preyer, it would make sense to give characters hobbies and pastimes and stuff like that. I can see where it definitely would give characters more personality -- thanks for pointing that out, I appreciate it. I'll need to go back to the drawing board with some of my fantasy worlds and see about giving characters that realism they otherwise would lack.

mdin
04-14-2005, 09:08 AM
A good one is Guy Gavriel Kay's Sailing to Sarantium. There's a good deal about chariot racing, and the rivalries amongst the people who aligned themselves behind a particular athlete. Very cool stuff.

preyer
04-14-2005, 11:43 AM
even more defining about our culture that still holds true is 'logan's run' sport of literally playing for your life once you reach a certain age. i have only vague recollections of that game (i thought they were supposed to do a remake of the movie).

hey, glad i could shine some light on something i think goes largely unsaid, sean. these heroes who strive to save their way of life must have a reason beyond politics and religion sometimes, i think. i'd venture to say most of 'our' reason for fighting is to preserve our way of life, i.e. our 'freedom,' which may be roughly translated into being able to do what we want, or, in a way, 'to have our fun.' well, what freedom/fun does a character have worth killing or dying for? (this excludes, of course, fanaticism and zealousy, which doesn't sound either free or fun. then again, these aren't necessarily the typical hero-type characters, either.)

i was rather torn whether or not to separate the sports thread, figuring i should just combine the two.

i think this particular subject has more bearing on SF as our lives become more and more open to free time (at least theoretically-- in reality, americans are technically the hardest working people in the world, according to recent studies). in the future where robots may do our housework, though, what are we going to do? what are going to be some future pasttimes? and will the idea 'idle minds/hands are the devil's workshop' go a long way in the decline of our civilization? with excess free time, will people turn more towards recreational activities that are good or bad, and how much of that will have to do with moral leadership?

what a character does with his free time and how he does it is, i've always felt, pivotal towards understanding why his lifestyle merits saving. i've seen plenty of halflings smoking a pipe on their front porch and, at most, visit the tavern and that's supposed to suffice. i think that's too cursory for my tastes. we get a lot of potter's lifestyle, and, hm, how many potter books has rowling sold? lol. i could pick up just about any book right now and find more about how the character looks than how he spends his day outside work. there's usually an example in the form of a situation and a vague notion of how a fiery, raven-haired duchess spends her day than what she typically does just for fun. outside attending gala affairs wherein the misunderstood rogue at the other end of the room locks eyes with her, i mean (okay, wrong genre, but you get the idea, no?).

oh, and in the future, i reckon that if gladiatorial games came back into vogue it would be played through robots... ones that actually do grievous harm to one another as opposed to 'robot wars'. civilized violence.

on a completely unrelated topic, once humans advance to the point where we communicate telepathically and can move objects with our minds, will there still be science fiction stories?

bluejester12
04-14-2005, 11:58 AM
Though heros may be busy Ive read several authors that flesh out pasttimes at campfires or such or in a city's atmosphere as the characters pass through on their quest. Sometimes sports and races become obstacles instead of pasttimes, the ole "I'll wrestle you for it" syndrome.

whitehound
04-16-2005, 05:48 AM
Somebody once said that what men fight for, in the last resort, is to impress their mothers. That's another thing that's often left out - the family background, the strengths and stresses, which may encourage someone to e.g. go on a quest.

preyer
04-16-2005, 10:03 PM
that's true, too. parke godwyn's 'beowulf''s main character had him a viking, with the typical motivations a viking does for doing what they do, and, being so young, beowulf flees his first battle. he spends the rest of his life in a reckless pursuit of suicidal adventure trying to prove to everyone and himself that he's not a coward (though he kept his fleeing a secret). just the way godwyn did it was brilliant, though: it was perfect motivation.

what would an alien amusement park consist of, i wonder? do they have movies? i've always wondered that in a whole galaxy what the sunday paper would look like. pretty thick, i guess. crossword puzzle would be a booger.

whitehound
04-17-2005, 07:03 AM
Well, for the sake of a story you could have an alien theme park with play-at-being-human games - a toy tube-train to ride on instead of a toy spaceship, and so on.

Actually if we had contact with an alien race they might think it was a laugh to set up a theme park of what *we* thought aliens would be, all 1950s BEMs. Otherwise like us I suppose their theme parks if any would be based on exotic cultures from other continents or planets, scenes from history, popular folk-tales etc..

Nateskate
04-18-2005, 04:08 PM
Since my protagonist is so young, he has a lighter side. But seeing that I've set the story in ancient -pre-gunpowder times, most amusement is akin to outdoor recreation. Picture Swiss Family Robinson where they amuse themselves, and have serious times.

Obviously in a created world, with a variety of created creatures, you'd wonder if you could tame the beasts. About the time I was in first grade, we used to explore our territory-far beyond our boundaries, and we came upon this fence with two giant Great Danes behind it. Dang tooten we tried to ride those beasts. You'd figure in a story, you'd see something the protagonist wants to ride.

preyer
04-18-2005, 09:00 PM
sure, i think they'd want to ride practically anything available. we ride horses, camels, elephants, and even ostriches. like yourself, i wonder how many have tried to ride not only dogs (haven't we all given the chance?), but goats and llamas. hell we even ride dolphins and orca whales. if dinosaurs were around we'd be riding them, too.

i think an alien race, especially if they're humanoid, is pretty likely to figure amusement parks out. i reckon they'd have them unless there were reasons why they couldn't. sure, their amusement may be more exotic than ours, like spells or technology that allows them to explore their dreams while awake and interact with it (them? not sure what to call dreams in that case) as were it an alive movie (this actually may be a good way to work through some mental issues, eh?), but it's hard to beat actually getting outside, walking around, doing something, and going around a steep track at 65 miles per hour.

i figure any intelligent creature out there will have some form of getting high, too.

Nateskate
04-19-2005, 01:53 AM
sure, i think they'd want to ride practically anything available. we ride horses, camels, elephants, and even ostriches. like yourself, i wonder how many have tried to ride not only dogs (haven't we all given the chance?), but goats and llamas. hell we even ride dolphins and orca whales. if dinosaurs were around we'd be riding them, too.

i think an alien race, especially if they're humanoid, is pretty likely to figure amusement parks out. i reckon they'd have them unless there were reasons why they couldn't. sure, their amusement may be more exotic than ours, like spells or technology that allows them to explore their dreams while awake and interact with it (them? not sure what to call dreams in that case) as were it an alive movie (this actually may be a good way to work through some mental issues, eh?), but it's hard to beat actually getting outside, walking around, doing something, and going around a steep track at 65 miles per hour.

i figure any intelligent creature out there will have some form of getting high, too.

I was the last kid to try everything, such as the forty foot above the lake-drop rope swing. But I made my protagonist the opposite. In fact, he's more like my son, whose into extreme everything, who caught a copperhead at age 6 or seven and brought it home in a plastic bucket covered with plastic wrap so it wouldn't escape, the thing poking its fangs into the wrapping.

It helps move the story along leading to the "What was I thinking moment," when suddenly you are in way over your head.

spacejock2
04-19-2005, 06:21 PM
My SF books bring up a sport called 'Sky Hockey', but it's really just something for minor characters to moan about. (Losing cash on wagers, team always getting beaten, can't be bothered going to the game, etc.)

In one book a character just bought a sky hockey team and renovated the stadium, and is stunned to find out the cheering crowds were all paid to turn up. That's just a handful of sentences to start the chapter, it's all window dressing really, but I have fun with it.

I imagine rollerball with jet packs, but I'll leave it up to the readers to decide what 'sky hockey' really is. (I wrote it into my books long before I'd heard of Harry Potter and Quidditch, but if I ever describe it I'll make sure it's nothing like that.)

Cheers
Simon

preyer
04-20-2005, 12:16 PM
i'm almost embarassed to tell of one story i wrote long, long ago about a sport consisting of a combination non-lethal gladiators with jet-packs using chess moves and football strategies. awful, awful premise. good characters, though, but just a stupid idea besides, lol. i'm afraid to admit i actually wrote the whole damn thing out. :) one of those stories you find years later and literally cringe by the second sentence. honestly, i peaked as a writer about six years ago and have written crap ever since, that's why i call myself a hack.