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How building imaginary worlds in fiction can help us envision a better future

By Lauren Gilger
Published: Wednesday, April 19, 2023 - 1:53pm

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Writers have to create a world for their characters to live in — a world with a history, a political structure, a climate, a language, a culture.

It’s a helpful tool for writers delving into science fiction or fantasy — think J.R.R. Tolkein writing an entire language for the Elvish people before writing "The Lord of the Rings."

Matt Bell calls it worldbuilding. He’s a professor of creative writing at Arizona State University and an acclaimed novelist who writes science fiction or speculative fiction. 

Bell is heading up a new initiative at ASU all about worldbuilding — but it’s not just for writing. He says the same ideas can be applied to the real world, especially one facing an uncertain, climate change future. The Show spoke with him about how in-depth it can be.

Matt Bell
Jessica Bell
Matt Bell

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