Science fantasy worldbuilding in Phoenix 2: Current events

Current Events


The final part of the broadcast is some kind of spectacle. Think of news stations cutting to footage of a recent weather event, or the face of a missing person. Sometimes they are used with a purpose—to rally people or to invoke fear or hatred, as in Said’s example below.

The vidscreens flashed up an enormous image: the Alien King, the most wanted being in the galaxy. Lucky recoiled instinctively, and so did everyone around him. No matter how many times he saw Alien features, he couldn’t get used to them: the curving horns, the cloven hooves, the burning eyes of flame.

PhoenixS.F. SaidSource

Notice how we don't just get to see the spectacle through visual descriptions—we are also shown how the characters react to the images. From their responses—their thoughts and feelings—we, the readers, learn more about the status quo and what is an appropriate response to the situation. 

Let's see how our examples combine visuals and character reactions to tell us more about the world.

The hologram flickered and shifted, reforming in the image of an enormous spaceship: the Ulysses IV, pride of the Human fleet. Biff’s eyes lit up at the sight of it, and he heard excited murmurs from the rest of the kitchen staff around him. It was the most spectacular ship he’d ever seen: the sleek hull, the immense engines, the brilliant red paint.

Lubalin disappeared and was replaced with a deep lens of the galaxy, Vijay’s position marked, and a new destination. No way. That couldn’t be right. Bleets appeared in her peripheral vision. Other Agents—excited, but not confused like she was. The instructions made no sense. The Convention was sending her into the galactic graveyard: nothing there but haunted ruins and lonely probes, certainly nobody to help a rebel leader stage an interplanetary revolution.

The projection pulled back to show Grand Imperial Riju was not alone. His family, sixteen in all, swam beside him, clearly emotional, but steadfast and proud. Jola thought of her own family and shared the emotion, though it hurt her ribs to do so. Looking around, so did the rest in her ward. The humans were unbeatable: too big, too powerful, not worth the genocide of the amphib race.

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