The Dead Robots' Society

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This week Terry and Justin discuss the topic of world building. What makes for a good world, what should you avoid, and how do you even get started? Settle in with us and enjoy.

Traveller (RPG) Star Maps

Plus, for those of you who want to read along with us in our new book club, here are links for you to get the book. Don’t want to pay for it? You can also get it for free!



  1. Listening to you guys talk about maps as part of world building made me realize how different map making would be for large-scale scifi versus science fiction that takes place on only one planet, or fantasy fiction. A story that takes place on a single planet usually has strict limitations for travel. A fantasy story where characters travel by foot is going to care more about “every tributary” as you guys mention. It’s kinda like if you travel to another country by plane. At first you’re only concerned with where planes can go. Once you get to the airport and are traveling by foot and by car, you care a lot more about every little street.

    BTW, one science fiction book with aliens that do not in any way come across as human: Enders Game. It’s another example of a hive species, but later in the series their actions are revealed to be motivated by more than just destruction. Short stories are easier to find with non-human aliens and such short stories usually focus on communication and/or competition.

  2. Michelle, that’s very true. The amount of map making you need to do is dictated by how your characters are going to get around. Good point.

    Also, I’ve read Ender’s Game, but it was years ago, and I never read the sequels. I need to get back to that.

  3. Oooh… you referenced Farscape! Yay! One of my favorite shows of all time. Such incredible world building- great example.

    I did want to say that your alien race name from your novel sounds very similar to a name used on Stargate SG-1 re: human species from earth. They spell it “Taur’i”, which may be different than how you spell it but I did want to bring that to your attention.

    You did not mention any of the Star Trek races that were not humanoid so I did a little digging and Wikipedia provided the following information on their “Alternative Biochemistry” page:

    “A well-known example of a non–carbon-based life-form in science fiction is the Horta in the original Star Trek episode “Devil in the Dark”. A highly intelligent silicon-based creature made almost entirely of pure rock, it tunnels through rock as easily as humans move through air. The entire species dies out every 50,000 years save for one who tends all the eggs, which take the form of silicon nodules scattered throughout the caverns and tunnels of its home planet, Janus VI. The inadvertent destruction of many of these eggs by a human mining colony led the mother Horta to respond by murdering the colonists and sabotaging their equipment; it was only through a Vulcan mind meld that the race’s benevolence and intelligence were discovered and peaceful relations established.

    Star Trek would later offer other corporeal life-forms with an alternative biochemistry. The Tholians of “The Tholian Web” are depicted and described, in that episode and later in the Star Trek: Enterprise episode “In a Mirror, Darkly” as being primarily of mineral-based composition and thriving only in superheated conditions. Another episode from TOS’s third season, “The Savage Curtain,” depicted another rock creature called an Excalbian, which is believed in fanon to also have been silicon-based.[22][23]

    Later on, in Star Trek: The Next Generation, the Crystalline Entity appeared in two episodes, “Datalore” and “Silicon Avatar”. This was an enormous spacefaring crystal lattice that had taken thousands of lives in its quest for energy. It may have been unaware of this, however, but it was destroyed before communications could be established at a level sufficient to ascertain it.

    In another episode, Home Soil, intelligent crystals that formed a “microbrain” were discovered during a terraforming mission, and they described the humans they encountered as “ugly bags of mostly water.”

    “The Disease”, an episode of Star Trek: Voyager featured some artificially-engineered silicon-based parasites, and an Enterprise episode, “Observer Effect”, also presented a lethal silicon-based virus. In another Voyager episode, “Hope and Fear”, a xenon-based life-form was mentioned. In the Enterprise episode The Communicator, an alien species is encountered whose blood chemistry, while not explicitly stated, is sufficiently different from terrestrial organisms that it is not red and iron is toxic to it.”

    Here is the URL:


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