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  • Writer's pictureTabitha Tomala

Top 5 Examples of World-Building - Sci-Fi Edition | Guest Post | Bookforager

A huge thank you to all the book bloggers who came together for the top 5 project! There are so many books out there, and the top 5 project is a fun way to showcase some great finds and explore more book blogs! Today features a guest post from Bookforager that includes their top 5 examples of awesome world-building - sci-fi edition!


About the Blogger

Hi, I’m Mayri, forager for books and library lurker (fine, I work there, but that only really means that I’m paid to lurk where I’d lurk anyway). I am irritating enthusiastic about all things Book and have been blogging since 2017 after a friend suggested I stop annoying just her and unleash myself upon the world. The world has, so far, been unimpressed. I, on the other hand, am having a blast.

You can find me on Twitter and Instagram @bkfrgr

You can find my blog here:


1.) The Wondla Trilogy by Tony DiTerlizzi

The WondLa Trilogy by Tony DiTerlizzi | Top 5
The WondLa Trilogy by Tony DiTerlizzi

Not to be underestimated just because its primary audience is junior, Wondla is an incredible trilogy and one of my absolute favourites. DiTerlizzi has both written and illustrated these books beautifully, capturing the alien world of Orbona in all its variety. It’s a dangerous place, filled with carnivorous plant-life, giant insects, robots and clones, a forgotten history, and a wonderful diversity of aliens and Eva Nine’s journey takes her the length and breadth of the planet in search of somewhere she can call home and someone she can call family.

And I’d be doing these books a disservice if I didn’t at least mention some of the incredible tech that supports our heroine on her journey. The Sanctuary in which she grows up with her robot caretaker Muthr is cool enough, and the holo-room where she takes some of her lessons is straight-out-of-Star-Trek-awesome, but she also wears clothes than monitor and protect her (her jackvest, utilitunic and sneakboots), regularly uses her Omnipod (possibly the greatest update on the mobile phone I’ve ever seen) and gets to ride in some kickass hovercraft.


2.) The Stars are Legion by Kameron Hurley

Stars Are Legion by Kameron Hurley | Top 5
Stars Are Legion by Kameron Hurley

And now for something completely different.

The worlds of The Stars are Legion are planet-sized spaceships and possibly the most organically icky creations I’ve yet read. These planets are fleshy, pulsating, living things and the women aboard birth new parts for them instead of children. I’ll be honest, the storyline is only a half-remembered thing for me now, but the world on which it took place is as vivid in my mind now as it was when I read about it first.

The spongy walls and floors thrum with the planet-ship’s heartbeat, doors open like flowers, corridors are throat-like, and to travel between areas umbilical and arterial tubes are used. And just as a living body can house bacteria, parasites and symbionts, so too are these ships crowded with other creatures: recycler-beasts, mutants, insects, plants...

This is a unique world, gloriously gross and well worth your time, if you can stand the squick!


3.) The Binti Trilogy by Nnedi Okorafor

The Binti Trilogy by Nnedi Okorafor | Top 5
The Binti Trilogy by Nnedi Okorafor

Another future world of living ships and aliens, but a far more generous one. Binti belongs to the inward-looking Himba people on Earth and has just achieved a place at Oomza Uni, the best university in the galaxy. Naturally, she runs away from home to go to uni, but her ship is attacked the Meduse, jellyfish-like aliens and they plan to strike Oomza too.

Binti is a strong and brilliant character in a rich and beautiful universe. Humanity is new to the galaxy, having only recently achieved space-travel in comparison with the many other alien races that people space and Oomza University, when we finally get to see it, is gloriously diverse. But Earth, too, plays an important part in Okorafor’s story of cultural identity and the challenge of and need for change.

And that’s all you’re getting – these books are too beautiful to be spoiled further. Go. Read!


4.) The Luna Trilogy by Ian McDonald

The Luna Trilogy by Ian McDonald | Top 5
The Luna Trilogy by Ian McDonald

From beautiful to brutal. In McDonald’s Luna books humanity is alone in space and the Moon is an “offshore industrial outpost” farmed for its resources. It is also a hostile and deadly environment and the people that succeed there equally so. If I love The Stars are Legion and the Wondla and Binti books for their fabulously alien life, I love McDonald’s Moon for its utter lack of life. It’s a bleak and terrifying place dominated by five big business dynasties battling one another for supremacy. These five families live lives of decadent luxury while ordinary lunar workers fight for oxygen, water, carbon and data; as a result, the only beauty found on the Moon is that which demonstrates wealth. The Corta family have created a palace amidst acres of garden, the Asamoah family a farm-city, but in general the surface of the Moon is scraped, flattened and littered with industrial garbage and tyre tracks.

I reviewed this here and here:


5.) Golden Witchbreed by Mary Gentle

Golden Witchbreed by Mary Gentle | Top 5
Golden Witchbreed by Mary Gentle

Published in 1983, this is the oldest title on this list and a world I’d not have visited if it weren’t for the 2020 SciFi Month read-along. Orthe is a technophobe planet with its fair share of brutal history and Lynne de Lisle Christie has been sent as an envoy to determine whether the Ortheans would welcome further contact with Earth.

The Ortheans themselves are humanoid, so much so that Christie finds it easy to mistakenly attribute human feelings and thoughts to them, but their biology, society and history makes them far more alien than she suspects. And Orthe is a stunning planet: it has thermosensitive plants like lapuur, and daystars, and yellow light during rainstorms and blue light in its woodlands. It also has some incredible ruins like those of the city in the Barrens and other strange reminders of its history like the massive Rasrhe-y-Meluur bridge and the Brown Tower. It’s a world that will surprise, delight and terrify you and I heartily recommend a visit.

You can find my first post for the SciFi Month 2020 read-along here:

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