All posts tagged world-building

Eating Good in the Neighborhood (or not)

Published May 3, 2012 by caitlinnicoll

Ah, the cultivation of food. What would we be without it?

I don’t even want to think about it. Please don’t make me. *Whimpers in corner, clutching coffee* My Preciousss. It is minesss. Mines by rightses! *pets*

Ahem. Right. Where was I?

Agriculture is a huge part of society, because you know, it deals with food and how we get it. In fact, I would say it is the most important part of civilization.

There are many theories as to why we started to grow delicious food crops, which is likely due to our inherent laziness*, but I’m not going to get into that. I’m not even going to talk about the cultural, environmental, and societal impacts agriculture has had on us. I’m going to talk about how it pertains to you. Or more specifically your book. Or even more specifically, your characters.

In every fictional society, whether one set in Ancient Egypt or a futuristic colony on Pluto, your characters need to eat. And the food they eat will vary depending on where (and when) they are. For instance, in your futuristic Plutonian colony, why do they eat the foods they do? Why does one crop grow better than another? Is it the mineral and PH make-up of the soil, the accessibility of water, the hardiness of the plant? Have they been genetically modified to survive in the alien environment?

Not only that, but how do they cultivate their food? Is it in above ground greenhouses with special glass to absorb the weak sunlight, or are they underground with artificial lamps? Why did they choose to do it one way over the other. Weather, environment, and technology play a huge role in deciding these questions.

If you are writing historical fiction, you should consider not only what they had, but what they didn’t have. If your story takes place during the Tang Dynasty, obviously your characters will not be eating chocolate, because you know, they didn’t have it. Also, chocolate was originally a drink served frothy and delicious. MMM, chocolate…

Anyways, food. It’s important. And so isn’t how your characters get it.

*Purely unscientific assumption



A is for Aztecs

Published April 1, 2012 by caitlinnicoll

Mesoamericans believed the gods would only provide for them if they were nourished by humans.

the braver the captive, the better the sacrifice. William Wallace would have counted for at least 3 men

There were many ways the Aztecs appeased their gods (and there were hundreds of them), but the most common way was by paying a blood debt, which they believed they owed to the gods. This was achieved by ritual blood-letting, piercing, animal sacrifice, and human sacrifice. The Aztecs (and other Mesoamerican cultures) were not the only cultures who have performed human sacrifices (In some sources, Agamemnon sacrificed his daughter Iphigenia to appease Artemis), but they were perhaps the most prolific.

They believed that if they did not feed their sun god, Huitzilopochtl, human hearts, then the sun would not rise. They sacrificed to avoid destruction.


The Aztecs did not have a formal military, but every able boy was trained to fight. They learned how to fight in school and were considered men after they had taken their first prisoner.

War time was a happy time for the Aztecs. Warriors were able to prove their strength and courage. Their costumes were designed to illicit fear among their enemies and tribes they intended to conquer, and the more important the warrior, the more elaborate his costume.

Their chief weapon was surprise and fear. Wait, their two chief weapons were surprise, fear, and ruthless efficiency. Their three… oh bloody hell.  Anyways, other than being forced to pay a tribute, the conquered subjects had relative freedom.

Like Egyptian Pharaohs their emperor, the Huey Tlatcani (Great Speaker) was worshiped as a god.

Individual families did not own land, but shared it with a group of families called a Calpulli. The leader of this group was responsible for their basic needs.

The nobility and priesthood held a lot of power, but were not always in a position of power. In cities, the heads of the Calpulli formed a council, and within it, four members would form an executive council. One of these members would be the Tlatcani (not to be confused with the Huey Tlatcani), or leader of the city.

The Aztecs used chocolate as currency.

Perhaps the most important fact of the day.

And then this happened… Sorta

Book recommendations for reading challenges:

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