41 – Worldbuilding: Second Order Effects

Daystar and Alexander discuss worldbuilding, and why considering second-order effects is so important to making it rational, and can help in finding or fleshing out good plots.

Co-hosted by Alexander Wales

With thanks to Tim Yarbrough for the Intro/Outro music, G.A.T.O Must Be Respected


Asterisk War Sucks


2:50 Battle School concept

6:46 Inadequate Equilibria As Story Elements

22:55 Shadows of the Limelight

28:22 Consequence of the Consequence

37:20 Aesop Exacerbation

41:14 Confronting Civilizational Inadequacy

Alexander’s Book Recommendation

My recommendation for this week is The Stormlight Archive series by Brandon Sanderson, starting with “The Way of Kings.” Sanderson is a rather prolific author, and this is his epic fantasy series, with thick, doorstopper books, dozens of viewpoint characters, and a larger scale than he’s worked on before.

I feel like worldbuilding, and specifically, second-order worldbuilding, has always been one of Sanderson’s strong points. The world of Roshar is dominated by immense, rock-hurling storms that move from east to west, which has all sorts of interesting first order effects, like the best places to build cities being in the lee of a mountain or cliff, and architecture being suited specifically to defend against heavy winds from one side. The second order effects are in trade, travel, the organization of civilizations, and the prominence of cities. Because the highstorms grow weaker as they move across Roshar, the vegetation and plantlife is affected, and the civilizations that live within them are adapted to different conditions.

If you want to give it a listen instead of a read, you can go to Audible and get a free book credit when you start a trial, and by using that link you can help support the show!

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