Adventures in Coughing, Creativity
Two nights ago, I woke up with the feeling that somebody had sewn a live cat into my chest and it purred in time to my breathing.
One night ago, a fit of coughing smacked me out of sleep.
Cough: Just doing my job. There's something stuck in your throat!
Me: I swear to you, there isn't!
Cough: Then, I'll just have to keep going until I find something.
It did. I wasn't pretty. But who needs tonsils, anyway, right?
On the Westeros Board, people were discussing Saladin Ahmed's Fantasy novel, Throne of the Crescent Moon. I plan to read this one shortly. It's set in a culture reminiscent of medieval Arabia. Most of the people praised the book, but one person complained:
"I was hoping, this guy would try to introduce the folkloric conceptions of magic in the Arab and Islamic world, but he went for some magic system of his own contrivance."
I had a pretty strong reaction to this quote.
You see, in my mind, using a pseudo Arabian culture -- or that of Japan, or Turkey, or Africa, or any other period of previously recorded human history -- is only slightly more original than basing your story in pseudo medieval Europe (PME). Not that there's anything wrong with PME stories! Authors have a hundred and one ways to express their inventiveness, from clever plotting, to complex characters etc. Worldbuilding is only one aspect of the story and if you slot an "off-the-shelf" culture into your tale because that particular one captures your imagination, then, good for you.
But it's not original. In my mind, it's not what makes your story unique.
On the other hand, altering your culture of choice, by adding, for example, a new magic system all of your own devising... that is original.
We're writers; we're supposed to be creative. This goes double for spec. fic. writers. Treble, even.
I need an anti-biotic.