What Is Geofiction?

Photo by gari.baldi
Photo by gari.baldi

Geofiction is a hobby in which people design imaginary places: cities, countries, worlds, even entire universes! Unlike most worldbuilders, geofiction hobbyists do not necessarily create their worlds as a background for a novel or role-playing game, they create them for the fun of creation.

Geofiction can be as simple or elaborate as you like. In addition to geographical details, many hobbyists enjoy creating constructed cultures (concultures), languages (conlangs), or species. Geofiction is usually based in the science fiction or fantasy genres, but can be set in a realistic setting as well. Some geofiction hobbyists enjoy working with "alternate earth" or "alternate history" scenarios as well.

One of the most famous geofiction hobbyists was J.R.R. Tolkien. Tolkien was a linguist by profession, who invented several languages and then created the cultures that spoke them, and the world his new peoples inhabited. Tolkien's hobby eventually resulted in his Lord of the Rings series, one of the most influential fantasy series ever written.

Getting Started With Geofiction

Geofiction is one of those wonderful hobbies that is completely free. All you need to get started is an idea. Well, at some point you might want some paper and pencils to write down the details, but even those aren't urgent.

So, how do you get an idea?

Well, lots of geofiction enthusiasts start with something they love. Tolkien loved languages so much he created his own, and then built an entire world around them. One of my most elaborate countries is set on a vast sea of grass that bears a totally non-coincidental resemblence to my beloved Nebraska Sandhills.

Many other geofictioners start with a doodle. Many of us are inveterate doodlers, and sometimes those doodles produce something really interesting. The famous science fiction author Orson Scott Card wrote his novel Hart's Hope about a world that began as a doodle of a walled city.

Still others start with a question or concept. What if night lasted for a hundred years? What if unicorns existed? Another of my worlds started when I offered up "werewolf apocalypse" while playing a game of Horrifically Undignified Ways To Die with a friend, and then started thinking about what a society being exterminated by werewolves might look like.

So, there are many ways to come up with an idea. Once the world has been developed in a little (or a lot)more detail, many geofictioners like to share their work. Some, like Tolkien and Card, end up writing novels or role-playing scenarios. Others buy webspace, or take advantage of wikis and other sites that offer inexpensive or free hosting for geofiction projects. And of course, some people keep their worlds for their own private enjoyment.

Whatever you choose to do, I hope you have fun!

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Comments 8 comments

helenathegreat profile image

helenathegreat 8 years ago from Manhattan

Very interesting! I had been completely ignorant to this even existing before, so thanks for opening my eyes to it!


F. Prefect 8 years ago

For those interested in geofiction and conworlding, here's a place that might be of interest.

"Project Conworld is a world building project (known as a constructed world, or "conworld") beginning from the ground up, in a very literal sense. Using a map created in Fractal Terrains, members construct societies throughout history, starting with the world's earliest civilizations, and role play different places, periods, and people. Project Conworld is developed simultaneously on a forum, where roleplaying and discussion take place, and in a wiki, which serves as the source of all knowledge of the conworld.

Our project is cooperative, not competitive. Our project is one in which respect for other members and their ideas is very important. We demand a polite and friendly atmosphere in which each member may feel free to let their ideas flow, and work with others to make their creation come to life by interacting with the creations of others."

--> http://forum.projectconworld.com/index.php


Earl S. Wynn profile image

Earl S. Wynn 8 years ago from California

WOW. Now that's cool. You just opened my eyes to something very very awesome sounding. Thanks!


Davis.Cynthia.R 7 years ago

I was never aware that what I was doing was a hobby. I knew writing was, but I didn't know I was a geofictionist. That's cool that you explained it that way.


AnnaStephens 6 years ago

I'd never heard of geofiction before - very interesting.


Oroyukae profile image

Oroyukae 5 years ago

I found this to be quite intriguing, never having heard of Geofiction before; you explained it rather well, I must say. I am a huge fan or J.R.R. Tolkien and found his work to be awe inspiring; how fitting it was for you to use his work as an example, a fine one at that.


Semyon Edikovich 5 years ago

Perhaps you could include a fuller list of geofiction sites; ib.frath.net, nation.wikia.com, etc.


yaquncheveu 5 years ago

You can also have a look at this website about imaginary cities : http://www.urbamedia.com/les-villes-imaginaires-br...

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