underused settings in world building

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Re: underused settings in world building

Post by LinguoFranco » 04 Feb 2019 16:31

DesEsseintes wrote:
04 Feb 2019 06:34
LinguoFranco wrote:
04 Feb 2019 05:00
I think aboriginal Australia would make the perfect fantasy setting.
My setting Áánene is, geographically speaking, based loosely on sth in between Australia and the Great Plains of North America.

I don’t really read fantasy, because the mediaeval settings that seem to predominate are not appealing to me. I think I would like to read stuff in some of the settings people have mentioned, especially the one with the frogs.
I was toying with the idea of creating a world that blended aboriginal Australia and the Aztecs.

I also don’t particularly care for medieval fantasy, with a few exceptions. I’m not much of a novel reader in general, though.

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Re: underused settings in world building

Post by Khemehekis » 07 Feb 2019 00:41

Reyzadren wrote:
31 Jan 2019 23:28
Quick example: Most members here present low fantasy conworlds with bronze age analogues or get really technical with scifi, except 1 conlanger who does urban fantasy (you go girl! [:D]). I guess I am one of the few who use "typical mixed fantasy" for the conworld.
The Lehola Galaxy is based on new-age conspiracy theory. It has planets with Greys, planets with reptoids, starchildren and other splicechildren, abductions, ARV's, ufopoleis, and governments that attempt to enslave humans.

I don't do fantasy. There are no elves, dwarves, orcs, dragons, etc. in Lehola. It could be called science fiction, but it's not science fiction in the model of Star Trek, nor is it particularly close to Isaac Asimov, Olaf Stapledon, or Poul Anderson.
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Re: underused settings in world building

Post by elemtilas » 07 Feb 2019 03:04

Khemehekis wrote:
07 Feb 2019 00:41
Reyzadren wrote:
31 Jan 2019 23:28
Quick example: Most members here present low fantasy conworlds with bronze age analogues or get really technical with scifi, except 1 conlanger who does urban fantasy (you go girl! [:D]). I guess I am one of the few who use "typical mixed fantasy" for the conworld.
The Lehola Galaxy is based on new-age conspiracy theory. It has planets with Greys, planets with reptoids, starchildren and other splicechildren, abductions, ARV's, ufopoleis, and governments that attempt to enslave humans.
But where, I ask you!, are the Anunnaki!??! And how do you explain all these pyramids that keep popping up everywhere!?
I don't do fantasy. There are no elves, dwarves, orcs, dragons, etc. in Lehola. It could be called science fiction, but it's not science fiction in the model of Star Trek, nor is it particularly close to Isaac Asimov, Olaf Stapledon, or Poul Anderson.
In other words, it what it is: a world.

I never really understood assigning genres to worlds. Worlds are too big. (Well, there was that cute little world that popped into existence a few years back in Des Moines -- you know, the one in Blank Park Zoo. Was on the tele for a while, until it ran its course and faded out of existence again...) Fantasy settings, fantasy novels, sure. I guess I figure if you make a world, make it big enough to handle any kind of story you'd care to write!

I've written a couple stories & snippets set in The World that are more sci-fi or speculative fiction in nature.
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Re: underused settings in world building

Post by gestaltist » 07 Feb 2019 13:27

elemtilas wrote:
07 Feb 2019 03:04
I never really understood assigning genres to worlds. Worlds are too big.
This is an excellent point to bring up in this thread. Worlds are too big. But how many settings are really "worlds"? Most of the time, there is one or two focus cultures and an under-defined "here be dragons". I think many conworlders are not interested in creating a "world" as much as an interesting monoculture to explore. In that sense, a true "world" where you work on all of it is a truly underused setting. (Not surprising, mind. Who has that kind of time and perseverance?)

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Re: underused settings in world building

Post by LinguistCat » 07 Feb 2019 15:10

gestaltist wrote:
07 Feb 2019 13:27
elemtilas wrote:
07 Feb 2019 03:04
I never really understood assigning genres to worlds. Worlds are too big.
This is an excellent point to bring up in this thread. Worlds are too big. But how many settings are really "worlds"? Most of the time, there is one or two focus cultures and an under-defined "here be dragons". I think many conworlders are not interested in creating a "world" as much as an interesting monoculture to explore. In that sense, a true "world" where you work on all of it is a truly underused setting. (Not surprising, mind. Who has that kind of time and perseverance?)
Counter point: I have entire universes that I either decide work the same as ours, works similarly except for whatever is needed for the basic premise, or work in a completely different way from our universe. Then I start making settings within these to the best of my ability.

A world in a universe that is nothing like ours is by definition a fantasy world, whereas one that is very similar could be seen as scifi, and in between it would depend on the main premise. But even if I set a story in the equivalent of space, if it's in a universe with very obvious magic, it's not a science fiction setting even if I incorporate some tropes of scifi into the eventual story. Meanwhile, I could make a setting that looks like a fantasy setting, but if everything happening matches known physics and I hint at humans having come from Earth at some point, it's still scifi or at least a more general speculative fiction setting, because it could actually happen even if it's unlikely.

Though I would say that just because the universe or world is "fantasy" or "science fiction" doesn't mean the stories set in them need to be.

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Re: underused settings in world building

Post by elemtilas » 07 Feb 2019 18:03

gestaltist wrote:
07 Feb 2019 13:27
elemtilas wrote:
07 Feb 2019 03:04
I never really understood assigning genres to worlds. Worlds are too big.
This is an excellent point to bring up in this thread. Worlds are too big. But how many settings are really "worlds"? Most of the time, there is one or two focus cultures and an under-defined "here be dragons". I think many conworlders are not interested in creating a "world" as much as an interesting monoculture to explore. In that sense, a true "world" where you work on all of it is a truly underused setting. (Not surprising, mind. Who has that kind of time and perseverance?)
Most settings, I think, are not. They often involve one country or region. I would argue that of the published settings, Discworld might come closest to being a proper world simply for its polyfocus, for giving us a sense of cultural breadth. Middle Earth as well and better for giving us breadth through time.

I would, perhaps unsuccessfully, argue that franchises like Star Wars and Star Trek are really quite parochial. The focus is always on humans and in so far as others appear, it's through the lens of the dominant human worldview. At least, they seem that way to me. Even in so far as learn about Klingons or Vulcans, it's generally through the experiences of Star Fleet officers.

I agree that many worldbuiders do not actually end up with a "world" per se. I think it's almost cliche by now that the introductory post for a new "world" is something like "Hey I've created this awesome world --- it's set in this post-pockyclyptic city and there are these gangs of scavvers..." and I'm thinking, okay, that's the story setting, so where's the WORLD? I'd argue, again perhaps unsuccessfully and primarily for lack of motivation, that of the worlds I've met -- amongst ours, that is -- I'd propose that The World is in fact a world and not just a monoculture setting.

What you've read here does indeed focus primarily on the "Eastlands"; but as you found recently, there's plenty happening in the "Westlands" as well. And I've never brought up the South or the lands beyond the Oceans...

But I think what lies behind my own knowledge of The World is what you hit upon: time & perseverance. How many of us have answered the poll questions (what kind of worldbuilder are you) with answers like "serial monogamy" or "I get bored easily" or "I come up with new worlds several times a year". How many of us say "I've been working in the same world for five years" or "ten" or "fifteen".

I think working on a world for a couple years or five is quite plenty to flesh out the interesting monoculture. One could easily write a number of well grounded short stories or even longer works. And then move happily on to a new project...
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Re: underused settings in world building

Post by WeepingElf » 07 Feb 2019 22:58

I have the impression that I am sailing into blue water with my two current fiction projects.

I have never seen a setting in which Elves are just humans, and Atlantis was an ancient civilization (of the said Elves) in the British Isles. So I think the Elvenpath uses a setting which is previously unused, not merely underused.

There is also a severe shortage of stories in which the human race manages to overcome the current ecological, economic, political and cultural crisis and achieves a bright and prosperous future with realistic means, i.e. without alien interventions, miracle technologies or other futurological "wild cards", and without tumbling into a dark age before the turnaround is achieved.
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Re: underused settings in world building

Post by Salmoneus » 08 Feb 2019 00:27

WeepingElf wrote:
07 Feb 2019 22:58
I have the impression that I am sailing into blue water with my two current fiction projects.

I have never seen a setting in which Elves are just humans, and Atlantis was an ancient civilization (of the said Elves) in the British Isles. So I think the Elvenpath uses a setting which is previously unused, not merely underused.
Obviously there are no settings in which elves are humans since, by definition, they would then not be elves. There are countless stories, however, in which myths of elves (fairies, sprites, goblins, etc) are said to have been inspired by lost human cultures. In particular, in the British context, there's a whole genre in which "elves" (etc) are equated to the aes sidhe, who are only the tuatha dé by another name, and the tuatha dé are just humans (albeit with magic powers). Alternatively, there are lots of traditions of 'little people' and 'the people of the woods' and so forth.

Similarly, about the only fixed and essential thing that defines "Atlantis" is that it has sunk beneath the waves; so there are probably no stories in which Atlantis simply somewhere in the actual UK, because then it wouldn't be Atlantis (it also of course wouldn't match the geography specified by Plato, or by later versions of the myth). However, there are needless to say a great many stories in which an ancient civilisation was located in the british isles but subsequently sank beneath the waves - the entire mythologies of Lyonesse*, Cantre'r Gwaelod, Ys, and others too, and all that they've inspired. More generally, and recently, there are lots of stories about great ancient civilisations in britain, often as "explanations" for the Arthurian mythology.

*A land of old upheaven from the abyss / by fire, to sink into the abyss again / where fragments of forgotten people dwelt... as Tennyson puts it.
There is also a severe shortage of stories in which the human race manages to overcome the current ecological, economic, political and cultural crisis and achieves a bright and prosperous future with realistic means, i.e. without alien interventions, miracle technologies or other futurological "wild cards", and without tumbling into a dark age before the turnaround is achieved.
I guess mostly because this is unrealistic - if you're writing a sci-fi, it seems almost inevitable that some sort of technological or other futurological developments will have occured.

There may also be an issue of tone here. It's strange to see the current world as suffering a "crisis", and the sort of depressive mindset that's likely to see it that way is inherently probably unlikely to see this "crisis" as something that can simply be "overcome" without any major changes (miracle technologies, interventions, futurological wild cards, etc). Indeed, if we're set to achieve a bright and prosperous future without any major changes in course, it's particularly difficult to sustain the idea of us facing a crisis - usually we use that word when we're NOT expecting a bright and prosperous future to develop if we keep heading in the same direction!

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Re: underused settings in world building

Post by elemtilas » 08 Feb 2019 04:03

Salmoneus wrote:
08 Feb 2019 00:27
WeepingElf wrote:
07 Feb 2019 22:58
I have the impression that I am sailing into blue water with my two current fiction projects.

I have never seen a setting in which Elves are just humans, and Atlantis was an ancient civilization (of the said Elves) in the British Isles. So I think the Elvenpath uses a setting which is previously unused, not merely underused.
Obviously there are no settings in which elves are humans since, by definition, they would then not be elves. There are countless stories, however, in which myths of elves (fairies, sprites, goblins, etc) are said to have been inspired by lost human cultures. In particular, in the British context, there's a whole genre in which "elves" (etc) are equated to the aes sidhe, who are only the tuatha dé by another name, and the tuatha dé are just humans (albeit with magic powers). Alternatively, there are lots of traditions of 'little people' and 'the people of the woods' and so forth.
I suppose you're not familiar with WeepingElf's world? The "Elves" of Britain are simply the descendants of those early, I gather pre-IE / pre-Celtic folks from which later peoples got their mythological elves / Tuatha Dé / etc.
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Re: underused settings in world building

Post by Khemehekis » 08 Feb 2019 05:30

elemtilas wrote:
07 Feb 2019 03:04
But where, I ask you!, are the Anunnaki!??!
Sorry, Nibiru is not within the Lehola Galaxy.
And how do you explain all these pyramids that keep popping up everywhere!?
Pyramids are a favorite of Greys.

From my page on Kankonian history:

It is believed now that the pyramids in Hegheos were most likely built by Greys from Bt!a in -35,000, as a tribute to mathematics. Buried Greys are found around the pyramids from this time.
In other words, it what it is: a world
A world that's been developed since 1993.
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Re: underused settings in world building

Post by Khemehekis » 08 Feb 2019 05:47

Salmoneus wrote:
08 Feb 2019 00:27
Obviously there are no settings in which elves are humans since, by definition, they would then not be elves. There are countless stories, however, in which myths of elves (fairies, sprites, goblins, etc) are said to have been inspired by lost human cultures. In particular, in the British context, there's a whole genre in which "elves" (etc) are equated to the aes sidhe, who are only the tuatha dé by another name, and the tuatha dé are just humans (albeit with magic powers). Alternatively, there are lots of traditions of 'little people' and 'the people of the woods' and so forth.
I remember reading that many people believe elves to be inspired by people with Williams' syndrome. The appearance of Williams' patients is often described as "elven", and the theorists assert that the personality of elves -- friendly, simple, jolly -- fits the personality of the typical Williams' patient.
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Re: underused settings in world building

Post by Curlyjimsam » 08 Feb 2019 15:10

Salmoneus wrote:
02 Feb 2019 01:25
No, we have a lot more school settings. School has the great advantage that everybody has to be there, whether they want to be or not, which automatically creates a narrative. University, people are only there because they want to be, and they have much more power over their own lives, which is much less interesting.

Hence, we have a lot more books and TV shows set in schools, and often those that try to transition to university settings struggle with that transition.
Is part of it just that there isn't such an established base of university-based tropes for writers to work off? Buffy did a very good job of riffing off high school tropes for three seasons, but in the university setting it floundered. Without the same pool of well-established ideas to draw from the writers really struggled. I think they could have done a better job of it - there's loads of university-based stories one could tell - but that would have required new ideas of a sort they weren't really used to coming up with.

If in the future we do get a really well-done university-based TV series or two, then this could potentially establish lots of new tropes which might make it easier for subsequent writers to try that sort of story.

A slightly different angle: school + fantasy stories became established only after school stories had been established. University stories haven't really been anything like as solidly established yet (for whatever reason), so it's maybe unsurprising that university + fantasy isn't really a thing.
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Re: underused settings in world building

Post by LinguistCat » 08 Feb 2019 15:59

This is funny since, in fanfiction, while not as common as high school aus or coffee shop aus, there are at least some university aus out there. How many are based on fantasy stories and how many actually have fantasy elements I wouldn't be able to tell you. But there's definitely at least some market for these stories out there. Then again, fanfiction has the advantage of people already knowing and relating to the characters, whereas writing a completely new story might have trouble pulling people in.

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Re: underused settings in world building

Post by Salmoneus » 08 Feb 2019 16:27

elemtilas wrote:
08 Feb 2019 04:03
Salmoneus wrote:
08 Feb 2019 00:27
WeepingElf wrote:
07 Feb 2019 22:58
I have the impression that I am sailing into blue water with my two current fiction projects.

I have never seen a setting in which Elves are just humans, and Atlantis was an ancient civilization (of the said Elves) in the British Isles. So I think the Elvenpath uses a setting which is previously unused, not merely underused.
Obviously there are no settings in which elves are humans since, by definition, they would then not be elves. There are countless stories, however, in which myths of elves (fairies, sprites, goblins, etc) are said to have been inspired by lost human cultures. In particular, in the British context, there's a whole genre in which "elves" (etc) are equated to the aes sidhe, who are only the tuatha dé by another name, and the tuatha dé are just humans (albeit with magic powers). Alternatively, there are lots of traditions of 'little people' and 'the people of the woods' and so forth.
I suppose you're not familiar with WeepingElf's world?
What an odd supposition.

My point is simply that a) "elves are humans" makes no sense; b) "'elves' are humans" (that is, myths of elves are ultimately about historical groups of humans) does make sense, but is a very common premise (and may even be true in reality).

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Re: underused settings in world building

Post by Salmoneus » 08 Feb 2019 16:32

Curlyjimsam wrote:
08 Feb 2019 15:10
Salmoneus wrote:
02 Feb 2019 01:25
No, we have a lot more school settings. School has the great advantage that everybody has to be there, whether they want to be or not, which automatically creates a narrative. University, people are only there because they want to be, and they have much more power over their own lives, which is much less interesting.

Hence, we have a lot more books and TV shows set in schools, and often those that try to transition to university settings struggle with that transition.
Is part of it just that there isn't such an established base of university-based tropes for writers to work off? ... University stories haven't really been anything like as solidly established yet (for whatever reason)
I think this is sort of missing the point. Yes, uni stories with fantasy are less common than school stories with fantasy largely because uni stories are less common than school stories. But this doesn't actually address the question of WHY this is the case - why school stories have been a massive genre since the 19th century whereas uni stories have always been niche. This is the question I'm answering in the post you quote - so when I say "X is true because Y", and you reply, "no, Z is true because X (for some reason)", that's kind of missing my point...


[of course, another reason is that school has been almost universal in the developed world for a century now, whereas uni for a long time was a niche experience. But I don't think that reason suffices by itself - both because mass higher education has been around surely long enough now, and also because being a niche, aspirational experience hasn't stopped all sorts of other genres].

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Re: underused settings in world building

Post by Salmoneus » 08 Feb 2019 16:33

LinguistCat wrote:
08 Feb 2019 15:59
This is funny since, in fanfiction, while not as common as high school aus or coffee shop aus, there are at least some university aus out there.
I have never suggested that there are NO university stories ever. I mean, Zuleika Dobson is more than a century old...

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Re: underused settings in world building

Post by WeepingElf » 08 Feb 2019 18:22

Salmoneus wrote:
08 Feb 2019 16:27
elemtilas wrote:
08 Feb 2019 04:03
Salmoneus wrote:
08 Feb 2019 00:27
WeepingElf wrote:
07 Feb 2019 22:58
I have the impression that I am sailing into blue water with my two current fiction projects.

I have never seen a setting in which Elves are just humans, and Atlantis was an ancient civilization (of the said Elves) in the British Isles. So I think the Elvenpath uses a setting which is previously unused, not merely underused.
Obviously there are no settings in which elves are humans since, by definition, they would then not be elves. There are countless stories, however, in which myths of elves (fairies, sprites, goblins, etc) are said to have been inspired by lost human cultures. In particular, in the British context, there's a whole genre in which "elves" (etc) are equated to the aes sidhe, who are only the tuatha dé by another name, and the tuatha dé are just humans (albeit with magic powers). Alternatively, there are lots of traditions of 'little people' and 'the people of the woods' and so forth.
I suppose you're not familiar with WeepingElf's world?
What an odd supposition.

My point is simply that a) "elves are humans" makes no sense; b) "'elves' are humans" (that is, myths of elves are ultimately about historical groups of humans) does make sense, but is a very common premise (and may even be true in reality).
Yes, b) is what I explore in the Elvenpath.

As for Atlantis, I think that Plato made it up in order to demonstrate that an imperialist policy as pursued by the Athenian government at his time, was in his opinion unwise and fallacious, but he may have drawn from stories in circulation in his time. One was the Santorin eruption and the heavy blow it delivered to the Minoan civilization from which it never really recovered (the most popular and perhaps most plausible of those theories which try to seek Atlantis in the real world); one was the "Sea Peoples" incursion (he mentions Egyptian inscriptions as the source of his tale, which may have been those at Medinet Habu); but what he tells of the geography of Atlantis, both regarding the location "beyond the Pillars of Hercules" and the size and nature of the island itself, matches neither, but it does match Britain to some degree (or at least, Britain is IMHO the best match afforded by the real world). Also, the Greek tale of Hyperborea may likewise stem from this hypothetical civilization.

Of course, archaeology has found nothing indicative of a splendid civilization in Bronze Age Britain, with pyramids, orichalcum-walled temples and all that, so the real "Atlantis", which I fancy to be the real "Elves", probably was just a bit more prosperous and sophisticated than its neighbours on the Continent, and the rest is the usual hyperbole one finds in such tales. There is, for instance, a local tale of a lost great city near a place named Bernstorf in Bavaria. Archaeologists indeed have found something there - a Bronze Age trade settlement. Not great, it probably was inhabited only by a few hundred people, but for its place and time, that was quite something, and later grew into a "great city" in folk tales.
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Re: underused settings in world building

Post by elemtilas » 09 Feb 2019 00:43

Salmoneus wrote:
08 Feb 2019 16:27
elemtilas wrote:
08 Feb 2019 04:03
Salmoneus wrote:
08 Feb 2019 00:27
WeepingElf wrote:
07 Feb 2019 22:58
I have the impression that I am sailing into blue water with my two current fiction projects.

I have never seen a setting in which Elves are just humans, and Atlantis was an ancient civilization (of the said Elves) in the British Isles. So I think the Elvenpath uses a setting which is previously unused, not merely underused.
Obviously there are no settings in which elves are humans since, by definition, they would then not be elves. There are countless stories, however, in which myths of elves (fairies, sprites, goblins, etc) are said to have been inspired by lost human cultures. In particular, in the British context, there's a whole genre in which "elves" (etc) are equated to the aes sidhe, who are only the tuatha dé by another name, and the tuatha dé are just humans (albeit with magic powers). Alternatively, there are lots of traditions of 'little people' and 'the people of the woods' and so forth.
I suppose you're not familiar with WeepingElf's world?
What an odd supposition.
<shrugs>
My point is simply that a) "elves are humans" makes no sense; b) "'elves' are humans" (that is, myths of elves are ultimately about historical groups of humans) does make sense, but is a very common premise (and may even be true in reality).
Why doesn't it make sense to you? Even in Middle Earth, Elves and Men are one race (their differences, perhaps, being due to factors far more fundamental than mere biology). The number of fantasy settings and rpgs with "half-elves" and "half-dwarves" and "half-whatever-else" indicates that even in those settings, Elves and Men and Dwarves and Whateverelses are similarly one race.

So, I think it's clear you are not familiar with Elvenpath or WeepingElf's work. As he has stated (for many years now that I know of) his "Elves" are not any kind of fantasy or fairy tale "elf" -- that is, not something that is "other". Your second statement above coincides more closely as I understand the matter.
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Re: underused settings in world building

Post by Khemehekis » 09 Feb 2019 05:17

LinguistCat wrote:
08 Feb 2019 15:59
This is funny since, in fanfiction, while not as common as high school aus or coffee shop aus, there are at least some university aus out there. How many are based on fantasy stories and how many actually have fantasy elements I wouldn't be able to tell you. But there's definitely at least some market for these stories out there. Then again, fanfiction has the advantage of people already knowing and relating to the characters, whereas writing a completely new story might have trouble pulling people in.
What's "aus", besides the German word for "out"?
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Re: underused settings in world building

Post by elemtilas » 09 Feb 2019 05:39

Khemehekis wrote:
09 Feb 2019 05:17
LinguistCat wrote:
08 Feb 2019 15:59
This is funny since, in fanfiction, while not as common as high school aus or coffee shop aus, there are at least some university aus out there. How many are based on fantasy stories and how many actually have fantasy elements I wouldn't be able to tell you. But there's definitely at least some market for these stories out there. Then again, fanfiction has the advantage of people already knowing and relating to the characters, whereas writing a completely new story might have trouble pulling people in.
What's "aus", besides the German word for "out"?
aus < alternate universe(s) < Australia
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