Wednesday, August 3, 2011

A Sci-Fi Pet Peeve

One of the overriding concerns of many science fiction authors whose stories (or games -- this applies equally to RPGs as it does to novels, movies, and TV shows) take place a hundred or more years in the future is historical extrapolation. How can one create and present a plausible course of events leading from the present day, which we know, to some point several centuries or millennia hence, which we don't. My feeling is increasingly, "Why bother?"

Think about it this way: when was the last time you read a novel or saw a movie set in the present day and much time was wasted in trying to justify the world as it is? When was the last time you opened up the rulebook to a modern RPG and found a lengthy history chapter stretching back to the Middle Ages or even earlier? No one in their right mind expects a James Bond novel to waste space explaining the history behind Britain's political situation in the 1960s, do they? Likewise, does anyone assume that a RPG set in 21st century America will devote pages upon pages to detailing the country's history going all the way back to 1776 (or before)?

I understand that many sci-fi creators enjoy creating future histories. Some even pride themselves on how prescient they are, but, really, except in rare cases, does all that history need to be laid out to the reader (or player), especially when much of it is decades or centuries in the past? From my perspective, if your setting is millennia in the future in some galactic empire far removed from Earth, does it matter what happened long ago and far away, generally speaking? Is it necessary to connect events of the present to those in the far future? I don't see it myself, except, as I said, in rare cases where the whole point of the setting is to explore that connection. Otherwise, I much prefer that "the future" simply be treated like the present from the perspective of the characters within it, which is to say, the way things are and let's not worry too much as to why.

58 comments:

  1. That is one of the things I like about Eclipse Phase. Ok, they spend a lot of time teaching you about the world. But it only has a timeline that reaches back a decade or so before the "Fall" and a decade after. Much of the information from before the "Fall" is lost. So they can concentrate on how the world developed after the "Fall". Which could be anywhere between 50 or 150 years in the future.

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  2. I feel that while this is a valid concern with regards to far future SF, particularly Space Opera (Banks for instance does a deft job of just handwaving it all), there are forms of SF where the historical contingencies of the setting are vital to the characters' self-conceptions. See: a lot of post apocalypse, Dune, near-future cyberpunk, etc..

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  3. This is one of the things I dislike about the modern superhero movies; do we really need to spend an hour recapping Batman's origin to understand that he beats up bank robbers? If necessary, do it in the opening credits, then get on with the fun stuff.

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  4. What kelvingreen said, emphatically so!

    I think its a related disease to worldbuilder's loghorrea. Show us the story and let the world fill itself in. Spare us the encyclopedia entries.

    If the readers/fans are compelled enough by the tale, they'll seek out that detail on their own. (Or provide it themselves.)

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  5. I can understand your point, but I enjoy those "How we got here" sections.

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  6. Ooo! I love this:
    'Bandit Country'
    In 2015 the debt ceiling was removed and no limit to the US national debt was chosen as the new economic model by the thinktank known as SINGULARITY...now twenty years on and Canada is under siege, its borders overrun by an impoverished tide of banditry thrown off by an uncaring US Government who has thrown off its skin and revealed it self to be a foul plutocracy with no room for the disposable populace its government continues to create.

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  7. @kelvingreen: Re-telling the superhero origin is because some people may be unfamiliar with the hero's beginning. This is Hollywood's reasoning. They think everyone was just released from their pod five minutes ago. I think it's safe to say that if anyone is going to a superhero movie, they already know the hero's origin. But each new director who takes the reins of a superhero franchise always does something different to the point where you don't know which origin is the real one. I think Christopher Nolan's Batman is the best so far.

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  8. This is one of the things I dislike about the modern superhero movies; do we really need to spend an hour recapping Batman's origin to understand that he beats up bank robbers?

    I agree, especially in the case of well-known heroes whose origins and abilities everyone knows. I've long hoped for superhero films that don't waste valuable screen time on origins of characters who've been around for decades, but I am forever thwarted in this.

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  9. I think its a related disease to worldbuilder's loghorrea. Show us the story and let the world fill itself in. Spare us the encyclopedia entries.

    Yep. It's the approach I've taken with all my RPG campaigns over the last few years and I have to say it's very liberating.

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  10. And don't forget the extrapolation of current technologies, and how many dilemmas faced by sciffy heroes of old if they had of had a smartphone and access to Google. Or even just a smartphone.

    Again, unless the tech is central to the plot there is no need to examine it in technobabble. Just use it and get on with telling the story.

    Although that being said I do enjoy those "series" where the books are set at different times during history (such as H Beam Piper's Terrohuman Future History or S Andrew Swann's Terran Confederacy series), especially if a passing remark is made as a nod to the reader about previous events.

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  11. i think you have to distinguish between near, mid and long term settings and the span within which the author works.
    In near and mid term (say anywhere up to 200-300 years out)this sort of thing can really add to the story. Because we know the world and recent history (at least we should...), we cannot suspend disbelief as readily and need a bit of coaxing.

    Additionally, the characters are "us" or "our descendants" and not only is it natural for us to want to know how we get from here to there, it is also pretty important to understanding a character; you can write a story about a Israeli and a Palestinian in the twentieth & twenty first century but you'll be hard pressed to fully explore them without recourse to 1948, 1967, etc....

    Its when you get to the far future that it is some what useless (but no less interesting).

    Ultimately, I think it really is a reflection of the abilities of the author; can they weave in interesting bits of information and maintain our intrest without us saying, but.... I'd point to Herbert's Dune as the way to do it Long term. Short term, Heinlien is an example of the need to and Dick's man in the High Castle is an example of how great art overcomes the need for it.

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  12. Hmmm...I can see it both ways.

    Prior to modern times (whatever those times may be), there is no need to tell you tons of historical information because, well, you know it. You went to school. You can look it up. We are all generally and relatively aware of how we got here from, say, the 1800's.

    But how did we get from here to FTL travelling to a billion worlds? Why isn't there a USA anymore? What happened that caused the United TerraGov Union to outlaw a certain frequencey of telecommunications signals? No one knows until you tell them.

    Is it necessary to tell them? It depends on the setting. In Star Trek, the setting stands on it's own. We don't need to know exactly how we got there but thank goodness we did 'cause we do know 'we almost destroyed ourselves'. It's mentioned all the frickin' time.

    I agree that at this point Superman and Batman's origins need not be repeated in a film. It is a waste of the movie goer's time. However, if Superman is suddenly an angry dude in a black costume with psychic powers, in an Elseworlds comic for example, then, um, yes! Please explain!

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  13. I much prefer that "the future" simply be treated like the present from the perspective of the characters within it, which is to say, the way things are and let's not worry too much as to why.

    This is one of the things that separates science fiction from science fantasy. Since science fiction is a form of speculative fiction a certain degree of speculation and exposition is required. With Star Wars-style space operas, such exposition is unnecessary.

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  14. "This is one of the things I dislike about the modern superhero movies; do we really need to spend an hour recapping Batman's origin to understand that he beats up bank robbers?"

    @ Kelvin Green - I suppose this is why they went with the Batman Begins film - That way
    you tell the origins of Batman through the entire film where he gets to beat up the bank robbers. Chapter 2 continues with the whole rise of the Joker, and now we move on to what is Chapter 3 of the Origins of Batman...at some point it is no longer the origins of Batman...but they will milk it for all it is worth to get you there.

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  15. With Star Wars-style space operas, such exposition is unnecessary.

    Sure, but aren't there also examples of SF that take place in the far future of this universe that similarly don't require such exposition? Someone mentioned Dune and I think that's a good example. There are occasional references to the Butlerian Jihad and its effects, but we don't get much information about the when the Jihad happened, who was involved, or specifically why. We simply see its effects.

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  16. Quick correction: Herbert does tell us in an appendix when the Jihad happened but the sum of the detail he provides about it there is a couple of sentences. I don't think he adds much more, even in the sequel novels.

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  17. Woah, woah, woah, woah...so it is okay for Tékumel but not for pure science fiction? That makes no real sense.

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  18. so it is okay for Tékumel but not for pure science fiction? That makes no real sense.

    While the world of Tékumel exists untold thousands of years in our future very little detail is given about the history of the planet until comparatively recently. Almost nothing is known about pre-Time of Darkness Humanspace and knowledge of history prior to the First Imperium is sketchy at best.

    That said, I do think all versions of the setting include more information about the past than is strictly necessary. In fact, I think the setting would probably be more accessible and less intimidating to people if there was less historical exposition. So, in answer to your question, no, I'm not making an exemption for Tékumel.

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  19. I don't like it in Fantasy either, really. It's part of why I like The Hobbit so much better than LoTR.

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  20. A few lines of well-considered background can imply reams of additional information, but those few lines are really necessary for a setting to feel coherent. Once the playters and GM have enough information to understand a setting's implied background, they tend to unconsciously collaborate. The setting brings their vision together. If there is no common vision, they tend to go in different directions, making the GM's role much more difficult.

    ("What are your character backgrounds?" "I'm a retired navy grav engineer, more recently making a living fixing merchant ships." "I'm an ex-marine, thrown out of the service because of false accustions of graft and damned bitter about it." "I'm a one-handed, kleptomaniac dwarven smith with a passionate hatred of orcs." "Ummm.... John, we're playing GURPS Traveller tonight." "You said to make a GURPS character, so I did.")

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  21. Okay, I can understand that but the aspect of traditional games like D&D provided a history for settings like Greyhawk. They did deal with the fact that you were in fantasy Medieval trappings without having ever really told you how they got there. If you wanted to read the supplements that were available you could delve into the history. That was back when the hobby was pretty much about crafting your own world based on the source materials you had available.

    Traveler (as an example) was totally different. You HAD to set up the background to give the players some context. Is the development of a warp drive any more absurd than a wizard casting Magic Missile? I'd say no.

    You have to have some context that explains how the players got to that point when they start their adventures. You also have to explain how the system works. Are all science fiction concepts realistic? Hell no, but are they so different from fantasy concepts? If you break them down, then no they aren't.

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  22. What really bugs me about Science Fiction is how the "future" ages very quickly. Philip K. Dick had his characters use pay phones in "A Scanner Darkly". I'm not discrediting the stories, but rather the future pales when the present offers us advances in ways no one can predict.

    That being put on the table I think there is something to say about the concept of divergence. You lock yourself into an alternate timeline and all of a sudden things can make sense. The "Fallout" games are a great example of this.

    I do agree however that Science Fiction that exists eons away from us does not need it and even some more immediate timelines don't require it either (see Cormac McCarthy's "The Road")

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  23. The difference is obvious: in a present-day or historical work, the historical background is freely available to the reader from other sources, and he or she can (usually) reasonably be expected to know some portions of it already. In SF, the only background that's available is what the author makes so. That doesn't mean that background history is necessary, but comparing it to works in the real world not providing such histories is disingenuous.

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  24. It sort of depends for me. I tend to agree, with the massively scaled sort of stories that occur tens of thousands of years in the future, I don't see the need to try to fill the gap.

    Some settings/games having some detail, especially those that can occur in a variety of times, it can help, such at Battletech. Nice to understand a bit why we go from a unified galaxy, to a tech Dark age to a virtual mechanical renaissance and small men in armored suits.

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  25. @Aos:

    "I don't like it in Fantasy either, really. It's part of why I like The Hobbit so much better than LoTR."

    It's one of the reasons I love LotR: the depth and richness of the history. "The Council of Elrond" is one of my favorite chapters. :)

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  26. "The Council of Elrond" is one of my favorite chapters.

    Having just finished reading that chapter aloud to my daughter, let me chime in and say that it is not one of my favorites. It's not just long but it's mostly unnecessary. I find myself agreeing with Aos above that my dislike of lengthy historical exposition applies equally to fantasy as it does to SF.

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  27. A case in point - Twilight 2000 is built around a speculative near-future that seemed plausible in 1985, not so much in 2011 (especially to anyone who didn't grow up in the 70s/80s). How many of us feel that we could put that to one side, say "nevermind how we got here, this is the situation", and play the game? How many couldn't get past that hurdle and would have to rewrite that backstory?

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  28. Uhm, James, aren't you a huge H. Beam Piper fan...you know, the guy with THE FUTURE HISTORY (even more so than Heinlein) whose writing goal was to write one novel per century of his 3000+ year future history. The guy who has an entire story about how a history professor starts comparing history to future events in class?

    I believe what you're saying but I'll admit I have a hard time squaring it with love of Piper.

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  29. I believe what you're saying but I'll admit I have a hard time squaring it with love of Piper.

    I love Tolkien too and he's often guilty of the same. I never said I didn't like authors who commit this "sin" or that it was in any way unforgivable, just that I preferred it when writers didn't do this.

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  30. I agree that it's unnecessary in Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Superheroes, Spy Thrillers, etc etc. Show, don't tell.

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  31. It might be helpful for the author to have some idea of the history of his world (and in scifi, the history of the technology), but count me out from needing or wanting it in my reading. I don't have to know the whole bizarre backstory of how FTL was developed, and if it's a multi-part series, I don't need it rehashed and retold (see: Weber, David).

    Don't tell me the history of World War 3; don't even give me a timeline in the front of the book. Give me "You flew the Gullfire over Leningrad, didn't you?" and let my mind work from there.

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  32. FWIW, When I reread LoTR, I always start with The Ring Goes South. Always.

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  33. It might be helpful for the author to have some idea of the history of his world (and in scifi, the history of the technology), but count me out from needing or wanting it in my reading.

    Indeed.

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  34. A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.

    Then ...

    Episode IV, A NEW HOPE It is a period of civil war. Rebel spaceships, striking from a hidden base, have won their first victory against the evil Galactic Empire. During the battle, Rebel spies managed to steal secret plans to the Empire’s ultimate weapon, the DEATH STAR, an armored space station with enough power to destroy an entire planet. Pursued by the Empire’s sinister agents, Princess Leia races home aboard her starship, custodian of the stolen plans that can save her people and restore freedom to the galaxy….

    I have all the history I need to get me up to speed and to shrug off my suspension of disbelief. Then the movie keeps throwing out Tim Bits of history.

    I want to add that I have always been impressed with those who spend time creating complex timelines, or alternate histories. Some of them sadly read like the descendants of Japheth in the Bible - long boring lists of dates with a short sentence of some event, battle, or king. Those are a bear to read.

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  35. No it is not necessary to unload a past history but it requires a rare skill to recreate an appropriately distant mood, tone or psychology. We know this because contemporary european and american sensibilities are not close and mediaeval and Greek are estranged even further.

    Stapledon's Last and First Men and Starmaker are probably your exceptions and George Orwell and Zamyatin are perhaps good examples of jumping in.

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  36. I've often wondered at the way SF settings try to justify themselves through meticulous timelines or historical essays covering the origin of every speculative thing about the setting. The first zap-gun was invented in 2012, Warp-drive was discovered in 2107, aliens were contacted in 2330, et cetra, et cetra. Yet I've never picked up a Old West game that, say, fussed over when the six-gun was invented. Or a fantasy game that stated when Orcs were discovered.

    Timelines, besides being nonsensical, often have the oddity of tying the setting to near-future fictional events (thus soon erroneous) no matter how far off the "present" of the game is. If the game is about piloting intergalactic scout cutters in 3333 A.D., what is the point of stating that first sleeper ship was launched in 2007?

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  37. Seems John and I have essentially the same idea...and the same ability to be largely ignored. :(

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  38. This may be relevant to your concerns: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Technological_singularity

    It touches on the main reason we cannot really discuss the future with even a semblance of certainty: things change in such a way as to be utterly unpredictable. If you asked someone in the 50s what today would be like, they would guess flying cars and life on mars, not a sophisticated agro-model that feeds billions or the ability of even simpletons to communicate of immense distances instantly. They could not have foreseen it.

    History is a complex system with so many variables that you cannot be sure how things will change. At some point, the sheer number of possibilities becomes impossible to predict. We can't foresee how even the smallest technological advances might subsequently impact all other parts of history.

    Furthermore, no one is going to dig up your novel in 2500 and say, "see, you were wrong!" The best novels in the genre focus on telling a good story first, and only patch up the gaps when necessary. Just as in Fantasy, where the only time you need fill in details is when they depart seriously from our understandings.

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  39. On the subject of Batman, it's been noted that Batman's origins are not explained in Batman: The Animated Series and I would imagine several of the shows that followed. It's also only teased at in a Scarecrow-gas segment in Arkham Asylum. Some people get it, they just don't happen to be making movies. :(

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  40. Barking Alien (and John): If it's any consolation, I would have posted the same thing, but you two had already done so.

    Seriously, guys, all of that historical timeline stuff exists in modern settings, it's just that you're immersed in it already. I've been thinking about this lately, actually, because I'm considering creating a "modern mundane fantastic" setting for Top Secret (something like the setting in Royal Space Force: Wings of Honnêamise), since the Cold War is no longer current background (I'm also thinking about setting a campaign in the early 1980s instead).

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  41. If you read H Beam Piper's Terrohuman Future History then there is only one story that relies on the entire sweep of that history (The Edge of the Knife), because that is THE central theme to the story. In other stories there may be nods to the reader who has read the other books (such as the nod to A Slave Is A Slave and Space Viking in Ministry of Disturbance, but the characters are all living in the now. Even Space Viking, where the immediate history plays an important part (the collapse of the Federation), it is presented as a concern of the characters.

    Distant history (ie not current events) is like distant geography in a book or game. It's a splendid opportunity to drop in an off-hand comment or tag to entice the reader (or player). One of my favourite's is The Incendiary Cat Episode in Barrayaran politics that Lois Bujold mentions off-handedly. The nice thing us that the author can always go back later and fill in details if she feels it necessary, such as she did with Lord Midnight [?]. Or not, as is the case of the Neuvo Brasilians who are off-handedly mentioned in the first book as a possible rival to the Barrayarans and then seem to disappear from the Nexus entirely.

    These sort of tags are great in a game, since it means if players are interested in them they will pick up on them and the game will expand in that direction. On the other hand, it means that each gamemaster's world will become increasingly non-canon (which is an important thing for some people).

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  42. I could argue that for many people aged under 30 a bit of text about Britain's situation in the 60's would in fact make the original Bond books more accessible. In fact, I think I will.

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  43. If you're going to create a sandbox world, you have to provide the backstory. Otherwise people don't understand what the sandbox *is*.

    But if you're basically following an episodic format where players show up to play the game the GM prepared then, yeah, why bother with the backstory? Just fill in the details in each episode.

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  44. "Episode IV, A NEW HOPE It is a period of civil war. Rebel spaceships, striking from a hidden base, have won their first victory against the evil Galactic Empire. During the battle, Rebel spies managed to steal secret plans to the Empire’s ultimate weapon, the DEATH STAR, an armored space station with enough power to destroy an entire planet. Pursued by the Empire’s sinister agents, Princess Leia races home aboard her starship, custodian of the stolen plans that can save her people and restore freedom to the galaxy…"

    Huh? What base? Dantoine? What first Victory against the Empire? It might have been useful to use the [imperials converse at a table about the current situation] to let slip 'the strike on the Clone Facilities on Camino has slowed Stormtrooper production temporarily.'

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  45. Yeah, it sure is a good thing that Lucas didn't have a strong idea of the timeline when he made those prequels, right? Making it up as you go along works for everyone!

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  46. I have found "making it up as you go along" approach to worldbuilding on RPG campaigns very liberating, I used to obsess too much with all making sense.

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  47. @faoladh

    Yeah, I mean, why have the scroll at all? Why not just start the film with one ship blasting another? Obviously it needed a bit of set up. A bit of...history perhaps?

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  48. @Barkling Alien, Faoladh, John:

    I don't think we're as opposed as it looks. I've already stated that the timeline and history is important for the author to have in his mind. I just don't want to read his notes while pretending it's a novel.

    In fantasy and scifi, backstory, history...it's salt. You need a good supply on hand because you never know when that extra pinch is needed to really bring out the flavor. But unless you're from M-113, no one wants to eat a 9 page salt sandwich. Look at Star Wars; here's a crawl, here's a reference to the Jedi and Clone Wars, and that's it. Perfect. For 2 hours or 300 pages, I probably don't need more than that. Just a pinch.

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  49. Adrian's onto something, I think. Your examples are somewhat cherry-picked in regards to modern settings. 1776 doesn't matter to a modern American setting in the sense that we don't have a smoldering, hate-filled war with the British, unlike the way 1950s Palestine matters a lot to the current state of a modern Israel setting. Then again, you don't need a lot of material to make that understood.

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  50. Everett: I don't think that we're in opposition at all. I'm only taking issue with those who seem to be saying that creating history on the fly, as needed, is not only the best way for them, but also the best way for everyone.

    I can accept James's original idea, that history should be kept from being explicitly presented, that it should come out through events (with the caveat that some background is necessary, if for no other reason than that the audience does not have the kind of background of history that they automatically do for a modern-set story). My objection is to the more extreme position that not knowing about the history until it is needed is the best way to do things for all authors. Lucas is the obvious counter-example, given the seriously fractured storytelling of the prequel trilogy in relation to the original trilogy.

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  51. Guys,

    I realize that I often write hyperbolically for effect and I'm certainly not immune to ranting irrationally, but, as I explained in one of the comments above, I don't think the inclusion of historical exposition is an unforgivable sin. Obviously, there are degrees of it and, even there, I've rarely found that history wholly (or even partially) destroys my enjoyment of a story/movie/TV show. That's why I called my preference a "pet peeve" rather than a reasoned and logically argued position.

    I will say, though, that I'm not the only one cherry picking or being disingenuous here. I don't see how, for example, anyone can seriously believe that the opening scrawl of any of the Star Wars movies is what I was complaining about or that it counters my general point.

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  52. My objection is to the more extreme position that not knowing about the history until it is needed is the best way to do things for all authors.

    I don't disagree. I will only say that, in my experience, writers/creators who obsess over this kind of stuff rarely refrain from sharing it with their readers/viewers eventually. There are exceptions, of course, but I think it's often too great a temptation for most creators to resist.

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  53. "in my experience, writers/creators who obsess over this kind of stuff rarely refrain from sharing it with their readers/viewers eventually"

    True enough. I do, as I said, agree with the concept that it should be presented sparingly and through events rather than exposition (or at least not through exposition disconnected from the main story). The very best authors seem to have detailed timelines that they choose not to present explicitly (Dune is the most obvious example here).

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  54. Do the work, then bury it. Let it come out when it's essential for the story, and show just enough extra little bits to intrigue readers and let them fill in the blanks -- what they imagine will be more interesting than anything you can come up with...

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  55. I like lots of technical details, if they actually make sense.

    I hate "Star Trek" style tech, where the writers would make scripts that go like this:

    SCOTTY: Captain, there's a [TECH] with the [TECH] and the Enterprise can't move until we fix it.

    Then the director would scribble in "instability" over the first TECH and "dilithium crystals" over the second, and the script would get shot.

    That's the kind of technobabble that I hate.

    On the other hand, I usually like "future history" that is decades or centuries of explanation. Usually the authors who bother to think that stuff up really believe in their premises and put effort into their deductions.

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  56. I note that some classic D&D sources, such as H.R.Haggard's _She_, took the trouble to establish a deep backstory to motivate the adventures.

    _She_ doesn't start out with the "wilderness adventure." The story introduces the characters, then introduces a very detailed archaeological McGuffin. The characters get on a ship, and then the actual *adventure* begins. (And Haggard's ship keeps getting copied - if you read Haggard and then look back through TSR products, you'll see that they keep imitating it. Gygax also imitated the archaeology.)

    You can't have a good dungeon crawl if the dungeon is just a couple of caves. A good dungeon has to have a history. The dungeon has different rooms that don't match in style. There's a natural cave system that used to be inhabited by giant slugs. The dwarves cleared out the slugs and extended the cave system with good dwarf architecture. Then a mad wizard enslaved the dwarves and turned them into a degenerate sub-human race of servitors.

    The mad wizard forced the new ex-dwarf servitors to dig even deeper, past another cave system that contains xorns.

    The mad wizard is now a lich in the deepest part of the dungeon.


    The history doesn't have associated dates, but it has an excellent timeline, and all of those past events left evidence that the players are expected to find. In fact, the DM will probably get angry if the players ignore it - there might be backstory-dependent riddles.

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  57. Well in Tekumel's case you could be walking down a corridor in the Underworld and wind up 1000s of years in Tekumel's past or in 1920s Mexico for that matter.

    There's always Robert E. Howard's Hyborian Age article, though I'm not sure it was meant for general publication or as the foreward / appendix of sorts it's become. 1000s of years before Conan to the modern day.

    In a way I view Tekumel's "pre-history" similarly, it's a bridge to get from the modern day to Tekumel's now and a worldbuilding essey of how Barker got there. Doublechecking in both EPT and TEPT it takes up about 2-3 pages, I must've been thinking of the full monty from Swords & Glory or Tekumel.com. Still, it shouldn't be front and center, but somehow, since it does feature in gameplay, it should be available to the GM at least. (shrugs)

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  58. I like "Things to Come", the 1936 version. It's a future history that when it was filmed it was booed out of theaters for predicting another world war and of course aeroplanes crossing the white cliffs of Dover in war...


    The "Real" history after that was different, of course, yet in many ways it was an exaggerated version of the decades that did follow. It grew to cult status in the 60s/70s for the message and challenge of social progress versus social desires.



    Then there was "Last and First Men" another one that went way wrong early on, yet still is a classic. Freaked out CS Lewis enough to write his "Space" stories in pure, bitter opposition to just a small part of it. Then Stapledon wrote a work that dwarfed even that, "Star maker"

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