World Builder’s Bookshelf

These are books and links to sites on the internet that could be of great use to people engaged in worldbuilding.

Hannes Alfvén and Gustaf Arrhenius – Evolution of the Solar System(NASA SP-345): A lot of useful information on the state of the art of planetary formation as of about forty years ago. I have the dead tree version of this, but I won’t part with it.

C.W. Allen – Astrophysical Quantities: With a publication date of 1973, probably a bit dated, but still a good standard reference for astrophysical and astronomical data. I have some excerpts I copied from my university’s non-circulating copy, but I sure wouldn’t mind a copy all my own. I had the good fortune to find a deal on the fourth edition of APQedited by Arthur Cox. A great reference! – habitable planets(online): Bleeding edge planetology.

J. Böhner and O. Conrad – SAGA-GIS(free gis app for Windows): Best of the reasonably easy gis apps.

Orson Scott Card – Characters and Viewpoint(at Amazon): A book for writers on how to create and bring to life interesting and believable characters.

Cartographer’s Guild – forum: great source of cartographic knowledge and creativity.

Jared Diamond – Collapse(at Amazon): Why do cultures fail? Part of the toolbox for constructing future, alternate, fantasy or alien histories.

Jared Diamond – Guns, Germs, and Steel(at Amazon): Why do some cultures develop so much more quickly than others? Another tool for the construction of histories.

Stephen H. Dole – Habitable Planets for Man(at Amazon). A sophisticated, scientific look at the problems and requirements for planetary habitability. Older than I am, so a bit outdated. I want it for Christmas!

Geoff Eddy – Creating an Earthlike Planet(online). An excellent resource for anyone hoping to build a plausible habitable planet. This site seems to be offline. With Mr. Eddy’s permission, I have a somewhat differently formatted copy on my own site, here.

Geoff Eddy – Climate Cookbook(online). Even better than the previous page. Absolutely indespensible for creating realistic climate distributions on a planet’s surface. Again, with Mr. Eddy’s permission, I have a link to this as well.

Geoff Eddy – Various works(online). A whole bunch of potentially useful pages by Bricka all in one place. This was lost to me till someone reminded me of the oft invaluable Wayback Machine. There’s an archived copy, right here(bang!).

ESRI – ArcGIS(terribly powerful and expensive gis app for Windows). I have a love-hate relationship with this program, but the love outweighs the hate.

Robert A. Freitas, Jr. – Xenology(and lots of other stuff online)

Stephen L. Gillett – World Building(at Amazon). Absolutely indispensible. Skip meals, skip mortgage payments, skip down to the store and get this book :).

Léo Girardi – Padova Stellar Evolutionary Tracks and Isochrones: A veritable smorgasborg of information on stars and their evolution through time. With this a mass and an age(and some reasonable guesses about metallicity), you can figure out great gobs of information about your star. It’s mass, luminosity, temperature and lifespan, of course, but other possibly interesting stats like the chemical composition and temperature of its core, and gobs of other stuff not all of which I’m sure I understand. This site has proven vital to figuring out the visible attributes of stars of various ages and masses.

Robert J. Hijmans, Luigi Guarino, Andrew Jarvis, Rachel O’Brien, and Prem Mathur – DIVA GIS(free gis app for Windows or Macintosh). Popular gis app with biologists.

Geoffrey Mandel – Star Trek Star Charts: The Complete Atlas of Star Trek. What can I say? It appeals to the old Trekkie nerd-boy in me.

Donald Kingsbury – Courtship Rite. A great novel of big-idea science fiction. Great clusters of big ideas.

Open Source Geospatial Foundation – GRASS GIS(Premiere free gis app available for all major platforms). If you can figure out how to operate it, probably the best free gis app available. I should also post good instructional documents if I can find any…

Tom Patterson – Shaded Relief(online)

Clifford A. Pickover – The Science Of Aliens(at Amazon). I want this! Haven’t seen it yet, but I want it with great wanting.

Mark Rosenfelder – Language Construction Kit(online), also available at Amazon. I’m looking forward to getting my hands on the print version. The online version is a godsend to any would be creator of languages.

Mark Rosenfelder – The Planet Construction Kit(at Amazon). Another one I’m looking forward to. If zompist can do for planets what he did for languages, this will be aother real workhorse. EDIT: Got me a copy of this, too. Same time I got my hands on Astrophysical Quantities. Pretty good. I need to put up a review some time.

Stanley Schmidt – Aliens and Alien Societies(at Amazon)

Joe Slayton – Wilbur(free heightfield editing app). Crucial to my efforts in creating planetary terrains.

Arnold J. Toynbee – A Study of History – Volume 1 and Volume 2(at Amazon). Good for a lifetime of history construction. Could take twice that long to read.


Star Maps

3-D Starmaps by Winchell Chung: The original and still in many ways the best. Not as well updated as it used to be, but he’s still out there. The connected Atomic Rockets page is definitely a go-to for detailed, fairly realistic spacecraft design. Atomic Rockets also has a lot of good meat for other worldbuilding(interstellar colonizationfuture history, ).

Stellar Mapping by Constantine Thomas: A lot of good stuff here, particularly on How to Make Your Own Stellar Database.

Extended Hiparcos Catalog Search Page by VizieR: Search engine for raw data on star positions. For best use, read Constantine Thomas first.

Internet Stellar Database by Roger M. Wilcox: More raw data. Easier to handle than VizieR and more data of interest to worldbuilders, but less reliable. I’d get my positional data from VizieR and add in additional stuff from here or Solstation(which I think is by Jo Grant).

Solar System Live by John Walker:  Good for figuring out how the positions of planets in the Solar system vary with time.

Traveller 3D: Mapping the Solid Subsector by Christopher Thrash: A good JTAS article that introduced me to the usefullness of ChView for starmapping. I’m working on a future Astrographer article based largely on this and Jon F. Zeigler’s Designer’s Notes for GT: First In(Can’t find a JTAS link for that…).

The Division of Territory in Society by Ed Stephan

Urban Rank-Size Hierarchy by James W. Fonseca

Medieval Economics by Philip McGregor

GURPS Architecture by Matt Riggsby

The Theory of Interstellar Trade by Paul Krugman

Low-Tech Economies by Matt Riggsby

Adventure Cargo and Interstellar War by S. John Ross was apparently useful to the designers of GT: Far Trader (GURPS Traveller).

2 Responses to World Builder’s Bookshelf

  1. Pingback: 2010 in review | Astrographer

  2. Pingback: Introducing Real-life Sci-fi Worlds | planetplanet

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