One of the things I like most about writing futuristic science fiction is worldbuilding—dreaming up new civilizations and speculating about the histories they were built on. I muse about their customs and venerable traditions, their types of government and level of technology, as well as the interesting people that might live there. I find it all fascinating, and have made freewriting a part of my process. Before I take to the keyboard to bang out the first draft, I spend quite a bit of time—days, weeks even—writing longhand to discover the history and nuances of the worlds and people that will bring the story to life. Having an image in front of me to draw inspiration from helps a great deal, something to stir my curiosity and get my mind churning, like an awesome futuristic cityscape.
Below are a few of my favorites, images that—whether you’re a writer or not—are almost guaranteed to get your gears turning. After all, having an active imagination is pretty much a prerequisite for being a fan of science fiction. We all dream, and dreaming is just another form of worldbuilding, which is why—as I often like to say—the most amazing places I've ever lived exist only inside my mind.
I believe doubt is something all dreamers struggle with, a never-ending battle against that unseen force, always pressuring us to change direction, tone it down, or worse—to give up, to shelf the idea and start over with something a little more sensible, a little more realistic and less ambitious. I know I’m always questioning my ideas, wondering if the scene or chapter I just wrote is as good as I think it is, or if I’m just geeking out on my own characters and plots. Sometimes, it really is the latter, and I’m lucky to have a writing group that I know and trust. Their feedback helps me see the difference and make the right calls during revision.
Turns out, at least for me, that particular kind of doubt is more a fear of sharing the ideas and thoughts in my head than it is questioning the quality of my writing. I realized this last month, when I began sharing a lot of images on my Facebook Page that—for whatever reason—I had been holding on to. In my eye, the were all great images, and really got my imagination going, but week after week I kept passing them over, convinced I was just geeking out, and that they weren’t as share worthy as I thought when I downloaded them. Needless to say, I was more than a bit surprised to discovered they were some of last month’s top images. Like with my writing group, I’m lucky to have an online community of like minds (sci-fi fans) to share and discuss and speculate with. Whether introducing me to new perspectives or expanding or confirming my own ideas and concepts, the feedback and comments I receive have been—and continue to be—extremely valuable, helping me craft better fiction.
Below are the top five images from March. I put an asterisk next to the titles of the ones that I had been holding on to. Silly me. :)
* The Catacombs, by Nic Ames
Images like these seem to invoke thoughts of old civilizations. Races so old, fragments of their society can be found spread across the stars. Whether they still thrive or have long gone extinct, their existence and influence is known and felt by all spacefaring species in the galaxy. Facebook follower, Ian Haygreen mentioned the Gallifreyans, Time Lords of the Doctor Who series. I think that’s a good example, as would be the Protheans of Mass Effect, or the Galactic Empire of the Asimov’s Foundation trilogy.
Planetside Port, by MuYoung Kim
When I look at this image, all I can think about is its immensity. I imagine there being a deep, constant vibration from the thrum of all of the ship’s engines that can be felt for miles. No one needs directions to this port station. Anyone can find it with their eyes closed, just follow the feeling in your bones.
* The City of Clementine, by Tyler Thull
By the size of it, Clementine looks a bit more like a colony than a city, at least to me. But, regardless, it’s a beautiful concept and definitely looks like someplace I’d like to live. The birds are a nice detail and seem to make the image feel more active and less static. Follower, Kathryn Jones commented that it looked like a ship that had been turned into a colony. I agree, and I’ve always liked the idea of colony ships being cannibalized upon reaching their destination. It makes sense, especially if it’s a one-way trip.
* East Coast Mech, by Michal Michlewski
The addition of the swimmer in the water gives this image a sense of scale, and I like that the sun is hidden behind the clouds. The gray, dreariness works well and helps create a sense of aftermath, like this machine is a remnant from a long-ended war, similar to the tanks and equipment that were left behind after World War II.
Takeoff, by Thibault Girard
Thibault Girard’s concepts seem to incorporate a few different influences. Facebook comments from David Hightower, Richard Henry, and Bill Edge, pointed out design similarities with Star Trek, the mothership in Alien vs. Predator, and the Wraith hives from Stargate Atlantis. But, resemblances aside, I think the image conveys a fantastic sense of adventure that makes most sci-fi fans wish they’d been born in a different time.