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Your Own Personal Sea Monkey Kit

Sea Monkeys

Today’s topic comes to us from QSF member Jim Comer: “Constructed cultures”.

So I’m going to take this one and run with it. Anyone who grew up when I did, in the 70s and 80s, probably remembers sea monkeys. They were these amazing little critters featured in the back of comic books that you could order for a nominal fee. You would receive a kit that you could put into an aquarium, and instantly have your own little kingdom of “sea monkeys.”

The ads showed these cute little creatures breathing air underwater with a castle in the background, often with a happy family watching the aquarium. They were actually brine shrimp, and looked nothing like the images advertised. But I was fascinated by the idea of building my own little culture in an aquarium.

Turns out you can actually build your own sea monkey world. You just need to be a writer.

So my question of the day: For writers, How do you go about building your own little sea monkey world – a culture for a sci fi story – from the ground up? What are the most important ingredients – the arts? Religion? Science? And for our readers out there, what are some of the most convincing, fully drawn cultures you’ve read about in sci-fi?

1 thought on “Your Own Personal Sea Monkey Kit”

  1. Dune is the first thing that comes to mind. I remember the first time I read it–way back when–being amazed at the physical descriptions and the subtle and complex political and religious cultures depicted. World-building on a grand scale. One of my favorite sci-fi authors, Samuel R. Delaney, created some extraordinary cultures in his various novels. The novel The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell, one of the strangest and most beautiful first contact novels ever, involved an alien culture that seemed as innocuous as it was deadly. And I remember another sci-fi oldie (from the ’70s!) by John Brunner called Total Eclipse in which a group of archeologists tried to figure out a dead culture from what it left behind. I loved that one. I recently read an M/M sci-fi by Angel Martinez called Gravitational Attraction that included a mixed human and alien culture that was both fascinating in detail and significant for the relationship between the main characters. I would like to visit that world again.

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