Crystin Goodwin’s Clever World-Building

Side note: I had planned to complete this post much earlier but a pretty intense storm (by our standards) put the entire State into a 2-day rolling blackout. Fortunately we only lost power in 1/2 day periods, but its a strange thing being in a house at night when the only light is coming from the screen and a back-lit keyboard. Very post-apocalyptic. Thankfully the water stayed on or that’s when things really starting getting bad.


I was reflecting on Crystin Goodwin‘s UnBlessed this morning and I realized how clever an element of world-building was. (I walk a fine line in not giving out spoilers).

As I briefly mentioned earlier the plot involves a group of people who have powers either to manipulate the elements (water, air…) or shape-shift into their “own” animal. The storyline goes that the people schism through war into two societies: the Melior and the Transeatur.

The Transeatur are the shape-shifters. They understand that the powers are derived from genetics.

The Melior believe that the powers are a sign of blessing from the Elemental deities. The more power an individual has the more blessed and acclaimed they are. At the top end of society’s power-scale are the Favored who live like Kings/Queens and at the bottom are the Unblessed, those without powers. Theirs is a harsh existence of trying to work-off immense shame through a life of dedication in the Temple.

World-building only works if it is not contradictory. Each concept of the world needs to fit together like a puzzle piece or it becomes like a table with a different length leg. Or to put it another way, each aspect of world-building should exert some level of influence on the other aspects. World-building should be like a spice which mixes through a dish not a poorly-mixed clod of flour that dares you (unsuccessfully) to eat it. That’s enough metaphors for the entire post.

In the social construct that the Melior use of scaled blessing, from Unblessed to Favored, the society maintains the status quo. A Favored is more likely to mate with a Favored and the Unblessed are forbidden to have children. By doing so the society continues on- even under the misconception of divine “blessings”. The social constructs protect them from genetic dilution (Unblessed reproduction or intermingling with Favored).

If this were not the case, Meliorian society would fail. By instituting these social norms, Crystin protects the integrity of the Melior people and her world-building. A clever piece of work.

Watching, Reading and Listening

Watching

In our household we enjoy watching Survivor twice a year when it rolls around; mandatory viewing and one of the few shows on free-to-air that we watch. So you can imagine how excited we were when Channel 10 announced an Australian Survivor.

Sometimes when we try to copy the US (with a lower budget) the results are a bit cringe-worthy; I was a bit worried…

It has not disappointed; in fact, I think it is better than the US version. The challenges have been harder (in my couch-position) than the US version. I am thrilled how after so many seasons (of US) the Australian version has still been able to come up with new and innovative challenges.

I suspect the food and conditions are softer but I can forgive that (so far). My favourites so far are the embattled-but-gutsy Kylie and the ultimate challenge beast Sam.

One can only hope channel 10 is killing in the ratings, and there will be many more seasons to come.

Reading

At the moment I’m almost finished reading unBlessed by Crystin Goodwin, after seeing it spruiked by storymedic*. It is a YA-novel that mixes the idea of elemental-powers (water, air, fire, nature…) and shape-shifting into animals.

What I particularly want to draw attention to is how the novel takes a fantasy setting but also ties in real world knowledge, the powers being derived from genetics. While it’s not a new idea it adds flavour to the story and let’s the reader say “I understand that.”

(Incidentally, storymedic has an 80%-off editing services for indies at the moment. I can’t personally vouch for him yet, but am considering it).

Listening

(Christian) Also I’ve been listening to Lauren Daigle on loop for the last two weeks. Her soulful cries are heart wrenching music. Totally recommended.

What have you been enjoying with your eyes or ears?