A worldbuilding manifesto(Or: a discussion of science fiction clichés)
Long ago, I created a space opera universe, with high hopes of setting all kinds of awesome stories in it. That didn't work out. Took me years to write just one. Even writing down all I knew about the setting didn't help. After some reworking, it finally yielded another story written by a friend, and a forum-based roleplaying adventure. And that was all.
My third attempt at worldbuilding came much later, and went straight to science-fantasy. But even though almost everything changed, most of my old principles turned out to have aged just fine. So here they (still) are. Enjoy.
Earth should not be special in any way
Aren't you annoyed by the anthropocentrism and Terracentrism of most science fiction? I mean, when Earth isn't the pinnacle of galactic civilization (usually without justification), it must be a
The WatchPlumes of smoke drifted across the clear summer sky, carrying with them the acrid smell of still-burning fires. Below, narrow streets winded among facades riddled with holes, pavement stones upturned by tank treads wherever the lumbering mechanical beetles had struggled to turn some corner. Here, a lamp post leaned against a partially collapsed house, where an artillery shell had pierced the wall and exploded, scattering blackened bricks every which way. There, water gurgled out of the exposed pipework of what had been a lovely public fountain, forming pools in the tattered shadow of an awning.
There was no sound but for the crackling of flames; at least, not until the rapping of boots echoed among the endless files of three-story buildings. Two dozen soldiers marched as orderly as the torn ground allowed for, peeking nervously at the gloom behind broken windows while they fingered the straps of rifles. But there was nothing to see, not even the flapping of a pigeon's wings.
InvaderIt was a beautiful day at the beach, with not a cloud in the sky and just enough wind to temper the burning sun, the piercing cries of seagulls breaking up the heartbeat of waves washing up on hot sand. The meteor shower was just a bonus; nothing like that had been announced, but still they came, strings of silver sparks streaking across the sky. People pointed, watched with binoculars, filmed with their phones, shouts of excitement punctuating the bigger fireballs. But none of them ever came closer than the horizon. For a while, the show seemed to have ended. Then the wind picked up, bringing with it small dark clouds that churned furiously as they raced low over the water. People began to panic, swimmers racing each other ashore while those sunning themselves grabbed their towels and ran. A couple fell off their jet skis, narrowly avoiding one of the clouds that swept close to the shore. For a moment its shape suggested a bird of prey as it hovered above a hastily deserted jetty made