Recently I was talking to Andrew McAllister (author of Unauthorized Access http://andrewmcallisterauthor.blogspot.com/) about best sellers that are similar to our books. It is one of those strange topics because some readers would feel that you have “stolen” bits from the best sellers to fuel your books. Au contraire! Sometimes those elements just work for two different writers.
When I was designing my planet Ose I came up with a very active sun which emitted volatile solar flares with EM bursts..so I couldn’t have a society dependent on electricity and high technology. I wanted a modern feel to their politics in that the cities functioned with mayors and were not feudal kingdoms or city-states. I needed to design laws, a merchant and an education system and all matters of transportation.
I grew up in eastern Washington State in ranch and cattle country and in my childhood “Westerns” were prevalent on t.v. so my mind automatically solved the transportation problems on Ose with horses and the merchant wagons. I did add paragliding as a way to get around as it would not be impacted by EM bursts.
I admire Anne McCaffrey and her Dragon Rider series is superb. Pern is also a low tech world for entirely different reasons than Ose…(with a completely different story line). The land mass is bigger but they had some of the same problems as I did on my world. They had horse equivalents with their runner beasts so that solution was similar but they also had dragons, which are frankly cooler than paragliding.
The merchant caravans were the only feasible solution to getting goods to the different cities. When the wagon trains came to town it was an event full of excitement on both Ose and Pern. The highlights of my childhood summers were the carnivals, fairs and the stampede but none of those had the flavor of the merchant caravans arriving at the towns on Ose. I searched for a word that would fit and came up with the same one that Anne McCaffrey used: “Gathers”.
The education system was a little trickier. Since I used to work in the public schools I wanted uniformity with the basics. Learning a trade is of vital importance for a smoothly running society and looking at the apprentice system in history and modern day was a natural. I combined the two thoughts with the children learning the basics: reading, mathematics, science and societal mechanics: laws, trades and how everything fits together– before the age of eleven and then apprenticing out into a field of interest.
In order to ensure that the same lessons and information were being taught when there weren’t newspapers, telegraphs or t.v.s I looked at the history of the middle ages and the role of the minstrels. It was the same solution that McCaffrey used but a little different. On my Ose there were regular lessons like you and I had in our elementary classrooms. The Musician’s guild made the standards for what was taught to Ose’s children but it wasn’t all set to music. The news was disseminated to the general population via evening gatherings at the city commons through public announcements and new songs.
When Andrew and I talked he mentioned movies being made from our comparative best sellers..in my instance: Anne McCaffrey. While writing I had fun imagining this actor or that as characters in my Sage Seed Chronicles stories and though there was talk at one time of The Dragon Rider series becoming a movie it never happened so I can’t discuss how mine would compare. But in my mind here a few of the pairing: (Book 1)Rafe is played by Keanu Reeves, Marisily by Elisha Cuthbert, (Book 2) Ree by Elizabeth Olson..she would need to age quite a bit to be in books 3-5, (Book 3-5) Erin is played by Natalie Portman, (Book 4 & 5)Yvon is played by Reese Witherspoon, Roos by Hugh Jackman.