Creating Alien and Fantasy Cultures

When creating alien and fantasy cultures for your short stories and novels, there’s actually quite a lot of books out there that can be very helpful. I went through my library and found some that I’ve found useful.

Creating Alien and Fantasy Cultures

These books are useful for creating aliens, species for a fantasy novel and their cultures.

o The Science of Aliens – Clifford Pickover

o Aliens and Alien Societies – A Writer’s Guide to Creating Extraterrestrial Life-forms – Stanley Schmidt

o Writer’s Guide to Creating a Science Fiction Universe – George Ochoa and Jeffrey Osier

o Writing Science Fiction and Fantasy – 20 Dynamic Essays by Today’s Top Professionals – The Editors of Analog and Issac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine

o How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy – Orson Scott Card

o Writing Science Fiction and Fantasy – Crawford Kilian

o Worlds of Wonder – How to Write Science Fiction & Fantasy – David Gerrold

o Concerning the Heavens – Creating the Science Fiction Novel – Melissa Scott

o The Complete Guide to Writing Science Fiction – Volume One – Edited by Dave A. Law and Darin Park

o The Complete Guide to Writing Fantasy – Volume One – Edited by Darin Park and Tom Dullemond

o The Writer’s Complete Fantasy Reference – The Editors of Writer’s Digest Books

Books of Special Mention
o The Tough Guide to Fantasyland – Diana Wynne Jones – This book is more of a satirical look at the tropes and clichés in fantasy literature than an actual guide to creating a fantasyland, but it’s not only hilarious it can be quite useful in finding overused tropes and clichés in your fantasy stories. Or even suggesting some to use but maybe twisting them a bit to give them that extra bite.

o The Lord of the Rings – Weapons and Wars – Chris Smith – This is a book that details all the weapons, whether wielded by Men, Elves, Dwarves or Orcs in the Lord of the Rings Trilogy movies. It’s beautifully illustrated and I find it useful for ideas concerning weaponry for my fantasy characters.

These books are helpful for looking at aliens created by writers and/or artists.

o Aliens in Space – Steven Caldwell

o Barlowe’s Guide to Extraterrestrials – Wayne Douglas Barlowe, Ian Summers and Beth Meacham

Mating and Courtship Practices
These books are helpful in coming up with ideas for mating and courtship rituals for your alien and fantasy cultures.

The Greenwood Encyclopedia of Love, Courtship and Sexuality Through History – Edited by William E. Burns (Six Volumes)

The Greenwood Encyclopedia of Daily Life (Six Volumes)

The Mythology of Sex – An Illustrated Exploration of Sexual Customs and Practices from Ancient Times to the Present – Sarah Denning

Sextrology – The Astrology of Sex and the Sexes – Starsky & Cox

Sexual Secrets – The Alchemy of Ecstasy – Nik Douglas and Penny Slinger

I hope to, in later posts, talk about the actual methods and techniques I use when creating cultures for my stories. Until then, I hope these may prove helpful.



5 Responses to Creating Alien and Fantasy Cultures

  1. I adore the TOUGH GUIDE! I actually have two copies, one American edition and one British.

  2. Jenna Reynolds says:

    Isn’t it a hoot! I love it! I found out I have more than one copy but don’t think the other one is British. Highly recommend it to anyone who hasn’t read it yet. 🙂

  3. Digital Dame says:

    I’ve only got a couple of the books on this list, the Stanley Schmidt book, and the Writer’s Guide to Creating a Science Fiction Universe, by George Ochoa and Jeffrey Osier. The second one is highly technical, but if you want to get the science right and not have an earth-like world orbiting two red dwarfs at the same distance as Pluto from our sun, it’s a good one to read 🙂

  4. Jenna Reynolds says:

    I forgot to mention World-Building by Stephen L. Gillet. The title, however, can be a bit confusing as I think some people assume it’s about creating a society, culture, that sort of thing but it’s actually about the creation of planets and their systems. That one is also pretty technical but a good resource.

  5. Digital Dame says:

    My bad. That’s the one I have, the Stephen Gillett book. I may have the other as well… not sure, but that’s the one I meant.

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