Stopping by for the first time for the A-Z Challenge? Read a short intro to the A-Zs of Worldbuilding here!
The pursuit of knowledge is a never-ending quest, and in a civilization it will lead to the development of medicine, technology, and other sciences. It may sometimes be a bloody path. And which sciences develop when will depend on the culture.
So, let’s get started…
Is there any pursuit of scientific knowledge?
Whether or not your people pursue science depends on a few things. It will depend on how much time they have to pursue anything beyond survival, it will depend on if the supplies and tools they need are accessible, and if the government limits their knowledge at all.
If there is no pursuit of science, how are things explained?
These are things like disease, birth, how plants grow, how fire ignites… even things like rain and snow, what the sun is, or the stars and moon.
Magic can be a form of science.
Just look at our own history – if someone from even 200 years ago were to end up in the present day, so much of what we take for granted would be considered magic.
Life these days might have more wonder if we realized how much magic already surrounds us. So use that to your advantage in writing. 😉
If their science is truly magic, what is its foundation?
We have DNA, how does it differ if the source of life is magical? Is it something that can be tracked, manipulated, or cloned?
What is or isn’t possible? Why?
How technologically advanced is the society, and what stage of knowledge are they at?
Do they know how the world around them works?
Have they had just a glimpse of it, or have they made it to the point of atoms and molecules, or further?
Do they have ways to run experiments?
Is there protocol set up for reliably doing tests, repeating tests, and falsifying them? Are they able to see beyond what is visible with the naked eye?
Do they have a way to transfer information from one place to another, quicker than by physical means?
Are they using their version of the Pony Express, or can they send information through the air, whether it is electronically or magically? The results of some experiments will be affected by how quickly information can be relayed. Some experiments may not be possible, period.
How does their science differ from ours?
Do they practice science the same way, or differently?
What steps are required? Observation, creating hypotheses; the creation of scientific theories and laws, etc. These are all things that must be considered. Some things may not be as important as in our world, depending on how important science is to the society you have created.
Is science a serious discipline of study?
Or is it more of a pastime? Are scientists respected and revered, or ridiculed, like the alchemists of ages past?
What branches of science are pursued?
Different societies will prioritize different things, so not every branch of science will exist in different worlds, nor will they all be at the same level of advancement.
Branches of science might include technology, medicine, agriculture, meteorology, etc.
Science is not the be-all, end-all, though.
Science is a massive undertaking – both in real life, and in fiction. You may need to know more about science depending on what you’re writing (especially if you’re writing hard science fiction), but remember that ultimately your goal is to tell a good story.
It’s not to create an alternate world’s equivalent to DNA or the atom. Unless, of course, it’s important to your story.
Original image used in header is by PublicDomainPictures.
My intention is to turn the A-Zs of Worldbuilding into a workbook after the Challenge is finished. If you’d like to stay notified about that, you can subscribe to my newsletter here. Please make sure and select the A-Zs of Worldbuilding option!