The advancements in your society
Rebecca Mikkelson, Editor-in-Chief Authors 4 Authors Publishing
Last week I talked about education, and that feeds right into this week’s topic: Advancements. As your society ages, more and more discoveries, and more and more advancements will occur.
Where do I start? Well, let’s start with the time period that you’ll be modeling this after. For worlds that are entirely made up and don’t follow Earth’s timeline, this might be a little trickier. In the case of the latter, you can pick technology, science, and medicine somewhat à la carte if you so choose, rather than sticking strictly to a time period.
What exactly do I mean when I say technology? This isn’t just a term applicable to items that require electricity to work. Technology ranges from basic farming tools to computers. What this could mean for your world is you’ve got an early Victorian setting, but for the sake of convenience, you’ve got modern plumbing, which didn’t start until the very end of the Victorian era. You’ll also have to think about what technological advances have already been made by the start of your story and whether they’re the norm or only available for a few.
Conversely, you could also have ancient civilizations with technology well beyond the bounds of their imagination. Stargate is a wonderful example of what this means in stories, between ancient Atlantians having tech that allows them to travel billions of light years, to the goa’uld ruling as the gods of the old world and making certain innovations possible with their advanced technology.
Or, if you have magic, will technological advancements fly out the window because magic covers everything you could possibly need? Surely, there’d be no need for someone to invent an air conditioner; someone could just give you a cooling spell to keep their home cool during the summer months. Who needs the mechanics of an elevator? We’ve got magic to take us from floor to floor instead of having to use the stairs.
Another thing you’ll want to think about is to whom this technology is available? Is technology cheaply available and usable by all, or is electricity only available to the rich? Historically, innovative new devices cost so much that only the rich can get their hands on them at first, but as our societies and demand grow, newer technology becomes attainable to more and more every day.
Ah, science. Science is a subject that has many believers and non-believers. In your world, you’ll have to decide how lauded science is among the people and if it’s spread throughout all levels of society or only the higher educated.
As with technology, you do have to decide what time period you’ll want to have your story set it. This will mean that there are certain advances in science that have already happened or, if it’s later than our current year, far beyond what we can achieve today.
In particular, one thing you’ll want to think about in the development of science in your world is if the laws of nature will be different, and if they aren’t, how many people know about them. In today’s schools, everyone is taught the very basics of the laws of nature, but in the fourteenth century, only the learned would know that not every action and reaction is divinely enacted. And if it isn’t attributed to divinity, would the people would attribute the laws of nature to magic if you have magic users in your world?
Now if you have a futuristic society that’s set six thousand years in the future, will you have a limit to what science can do? Will people be able to be reanimated after death or be able to defy death all together because scientists have found a cure, for lack of better words, for aging? Will people be able to get flesh and bones repaired in a matter of minutes from a stem cell producing gun—ray? Beam? You’ll be able to figure out a name, I believe in you.
No matter what level of science you choose for your world, make sure that it fits within the period you’ve set and the story that you want to tell.
Medicine is a tricky subject in fantasy novels especially. We’re all fans of healers with their herbs, tinctures, and draughts, but that’s not all medicine can be in your fantasy world. There’s nothing at all to say that a healer can’t be formally trained in medicinal arts, anatomy, and surgeries.
First, as with any of the topics covered today, when figuring out where your categories can advance, you must know where they start. In your world, will you have more primitive medicine that’s handled all by medicine women and shamans? Medicine of the mid centuries during which apothecaries believed bleeding a patient would balance the humors in their blood? Today’s medicine with well-versed anatomy and pharmacology? Or, rather, will it be a combination of these where certain social classes have access to certain levels of medicine?
A second thing to consider when thinking about the medicine of your world is if the medicine is magic based. If it is, will that have stalled any sort of advancement in the general public for curing basic ailments, like peppermint tea for nausea or garlic as an anti-inflammatory for the arthritic?
Finally, and this is true with all of the subjects, is how will the knowledge be passed on? Is it through observation and practical application, a trade school where certain subjects are learned, or a university-based education?
No matter what you choose, make sure that it fits your world and your story.
Join me next week when I talk about commerce and trade.
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