Creation of a world, or in my case worlds, is a lot of work.
One has to think about the star system, the make up of the planets, number of planets, moons, planetoids, asteroids, types of people, animals, plants, governmental and religious structure, technological status, and history. Because of all of this, research is a necessity on a grand scale. Thus, it takes a lot longer to write a science fiction or fantasy novel than it does most other genres. But make no mistake, world-building is a necessity in all genres. Without it, there is a lack of context for readers to relate to.
So, in starting the creation process of several different alien species, the first thing I did was take a good look at our solar system as well as a few “local” systems.
First I had to figure out where our solar system is located relative to the entire Milky Way. Our galaxy is a barred-spiral galaxy with somewhere between 200-400 billion (yes I said billion) stars. Our little solar system is on one of the outer arms of the galaxy called the Orion-Cygnus Arm. That means that we are about 27,000 light years from the galactic center. So there’s no worry about us being sucked into the super-massive black hole at the center (whew!)
As all school children know, our solar system is made up of one star, or sun, eight planets, five dwarf planets, an asteroid belt, the Kuiper Belt, The Oort Cloud, various moons, comets, centaurs and gases. The Inner Solar system is made up of four planets, only one of which, our Earth, is situated in the “Goldilocks Zone” and therefore more conducive to sentient and intelligent life. The Outer Solar System is made up of the remaining four, mostly gaseous planets.
Of the remaining seven planets in our sol system, only Mars has the possibility of sustaining a colony. Mercury and Venus are too near the sun, Neptune and Uranus too far from the sun and Jupiter and Saturn too gaseous. However, there is research into mining and colonizing larger asteroids and moons.
Our closest neighboring star system is Alpha Centauri; which is about 4.2 light years from us and is a tri-star system housing Alpha, Beta and Proxima Centauri. The common name for this star system is familiar to many a sci-fi fan: Rigel Kentaurus, the name Rigel being used in the Star Trek franchise, Farscape and Andromeda.
There is currently only a theoretical model of habitable planets in the Rigel system; however, researchers continue to search for the possibility of life in our neighboring system. Other neighboring systems less than 15 light years away would be, Wolf 359 (also called Bernard’s Star), Sirius A and B, Ross 154, Ross 248 and Ross 128.
In looking at the nearby star systems, I decided that I didn’t want my star systems to be next-door neighbors. This would allow some of the species to have a history where they’ve branched out to the closer systems and inhabited them. So, my next step would be creating the species and their histories. In doing so, I’d be able to determine who made first contact and when. This doesn’t mean that I won’t continue researching galaxies. That’s just way too fun to give up. But next week, I’ll start introducing you to the aliens, their histories and how I created them.
- Parallel solar system discovered (cbc.ca)
- Understanding Cosmic Geography: Beyond New Age mythology (rahkyt.wordpress.com)
- Two Solar System Puzzles Solved (spacedaily.com)