Science fantasy worldbuilding in Phoenix 5: Exotic technology

Exotic Technology

Introducing the object

Without getting into the complex details, or thinking about how it works, the simple form and feel of a thing can tell you it is unusual. This should be enough to generate curiosity about it so that the characters are compelled to continue investigating it.

It was a thick black disc, blacker than black, like a chunk of outer space. It was made from some kind of metal that looked like it had fallen from the sky. It felt cool to the touch, and though it was as big as both his hands cupped together, it was very comfortable to hold.

PhoenixS.F. SaidSource

Notice the expansions on the basic details of the object using out-of-this-world language (and also note Said’s use of repetition for effect):

  • It’s not just black, it’s blacker than black like a chunk of space itself.
  • It’s not just metal, it looks like metal that has fallen from the sky.

Here the object is described with a look at shape, material, colour, and temperature.

Some other aspects of form you could use
Making real world objects sound fantastically cool

It looked like a formless lump, wobbling in front Biff like an alien dessert. It was like a jelly he might have served in the cafeteria, but with a high-tech core which pulsed lights and emitted a dull mechanical throb. It even felt gelatinous when Biff picked it up; firm enough to stay together, but slimy enough that he worried it might slip from his grasp.

It was a cloak of shimmering particles, radiant and soft, like a cloud of tiny jewels. Each particle was a nanobot, invisible to the eye and too tiny to touch. It felt strangely soft, and although it was basically a gas, it draped around her like cotton.

The machine the humans left behind was within a large translucent box fixed firmly to the ground. Like all human devices, it seemed like it wasn’t grown; it was made from substances either inorganic or not-of-the-sea. It felt as smooth as a worn stone but not curved like one, with unnaturally straight edges and sides. Distinctly alien, Jola thought.

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