I have wondered this myself, as my novel is set in real places in Colorado…
I do have a question along the same lines:
How important in fiction-dystopian writing is geographical accuracy and specificity? People living here would know the difference and could be distracted by inaccuracies. People that are not familiar with the area may get lost in the details. And maybe the book hits big and fanatics want to follow the journey for themselves just to find it doesn’t exist. What direction would you go?
Eh… it really depends on what your goal is. When I wrote Magnifica, I wanted to basically bring the fantasies of so many geeks to life: Reality with Fantastic creatures. Society as we know it with the inclusion of Elves, Dwarves, and others. Impossible? Maybe, but I was going to try.
My problem was that there was virtually no way to make reality appear as it is today with other species existing on the planet. So there had to be a solution.
Well fortunately History… or rather pre-history had my solution for me. Humanity as we know it has existed for approximately 200,000 years. How much history do we have for that time period? At most, about 10,000 years. So what do we know about the time period before that?
Well that’s where my story begins. At around 100,000 BC Earth was inhabited by three different types of creatures; Elves, Humans, and Dwarves. They were similar species, but also different in many ways. They eventually came together into an advanced civilization known as the Alliance of Races. Together they created a universal language, technical advancements, and civilization more closely related to the Roman time period.
Unfortunately, at this time an unusual diamond descended from the heavens that possessed a very unusual form of radiation. This radiation caused irregularities in the cells of many different creatures, causing some to go extinct, while others to evolve at a rather drastic rate. In humans and dwarves, the radiation imbued a select few with the right genetic makeup with powers that would later be referred to as magic, sorcery, or enchantment.
These enchanters took over control of the Alliance and vied for power through military campaigns and political conquests. The Elven elders saw what was happening and feared an apocalyptic event as the enchanters were simply getting way too powerful. As a result, they sent a legion of their best warriors to march on the temple of the large crystal, known to the Alliance as the Lux Mundi.
Elves were unable to become enchanters. Their genetic makeup simply blocked the radiation. As a result, the legion, after defeating the guards and destroying the temple, they sacrificed their own bodies, coating the diamond in their blood. For reasons they could not explain, the diamond shattered and became white hot. The shards sank into the ground, causing the mountain that the temple had been built on to erupt over and over and essentially double in size. This became Mt. Vesuvius.
The surviving Elves retreated down the mountain and returned to their people. With the destruction of the Lux Mundi, Enchanters slowly became extinct and without their ruling class, the Alliance was thrown into chaos. The elves were banished as a species. They fled to the most remote parts of the world, the dwarves took the destruction of the Lux Mundi’s temple as a personal insult as they were the ones who built it. They took their advanced building techniques and burrowed deep beneath the Earth, leaving humans to fight amongst themselves until pretty much all of the civilization that they had helped build, corroded away into the sand. It wouldn’t be until ancient Mesopotamia that humanity would even form into a working society again.
In the most remote parts of the world, Elves began to realize that something wasn’t right. Their lifespans were drastically cut short and the birth rate of female children to males was 1 in 5. Unknown to them, one particularly nasty enchanter cursed the Lux Mundi right before the elves got to it. The result was a plague slowly wiped out the elven race as a whole. They hid deep in jungles and forests, fearing confrontation with humans.
This is how the world was until about World War 2 when the happenings of the world drew the attention of the elves and dwarves. At the end of the war, the dwarves resurfaced and revealed themselves. They helped rebuild the world and even revealed secrets of the past. Not long after, fearing extinction, the remaining Elven colonies (5,000 people) came out of hiding, asking for help from the advanced medical knowledge of the humans.
While they were mostly met with kindness and eventually a cure for the disease was found, many considered elves unclean and blamed them for the lack of human advancement since the collapse of the Alliance. Racism and segregation were regular problems for elves.
Despite a cure, the elven population was still dying out because the damage to their gene pool had been done. Female elves were still being born at a reduced rate and by the time my story took place, only about 1,000 were still alive.
So that’s how I made it work in my book. By the 1940s and 50s, a lot of the establishment we know and love today already existed. So it is feasible that the world would still look very similar as it does in our world. Are some things different? Absolutely. My story takes place on a fictional college campus in Boston.
So the answer to your question is that it really depends. Are you trying to put a fictional person or persons in the real world? If you want that to be the case, then I’d suggest visiting those places and getting the lay of the land before writing about them. It is absolutely essential that you get as much right as possible because I agree that it could take people out of your writing.
However if we’re talking about my example where its simply a fantasy world that is supposed to be very similar to ours, then the audience will accept some differences. In fact, they tend to accept the differences more than the similarities.
Anyway, hope this helps!
Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.
I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.
I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.
Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.
Also, feel free to check out my works of Fantasy and Historical Fiction, Available on Amazon and where ever books are sold. See the link below:
Catch you on the flip side!