Wednesday, April 10, 2013

World Building A to Z: Inventions and Inventors

This month I'm sharing stuff I've noticed in world building and establishment of setting. A big THANK YOU to Arlee Bird and his team at Blogging from A to Z.    

Inventions and Inventors: Did any of you ever watch that '80s TV show, Small Wonder? If so, you'd remember Vicki the Robot. Although she was just a robot invented by the dad, her presence completed the family. That mouthy neighbor Harriet just wouldn't do. 

Sometimes inventions come from magic. (I will examine magic more closely in another post later this month.) Sometimes an invention can tell you something about its inventor or the world that has a function for that particular product.

In Claire Legrand's THE CAVENDISH HOME FOR BOYS AND GIRLS, students are punished by being suspended in a hanger- it is a creepy indoor swing that traps its occupants like insects in a spider web. The need to create such a contraption to punish children, especially children who have done no wrong, reflects Mrs. Cavendish's cruelty.  

I'm going to mention another story Claire Legrand wrote- this is a short story called The Cake Made Out of Teeth and it's published on this MG short story horror/suspense blog called The Cabinet of Curiosities. Henry becomes obsessed with eating a cake sculpted in his image from head to toe. Problem is, this cake is a voodoo cake. When Henry takes a bite out of the cake in one area, a part of his own body feels as if it's being ripped off. While I should sympathize with Henry, it should be noted that this kid has a huge mean streak. So it is up to readers to decide if the baker who invented this cake is a good guy or bad guy.  

China Mieville's UN LUN DUN reveals all sorts of inventions in UnLondon. There's the [upside down version of the word car] which is a water vessel made from an overturned vehicle, houses and buildings designed to look like fists and turtle shells, and buses that run on lizard legs or stilts. There are also unbrellas (yes, they're unbrellas, not umbrellas) made with the function to protect the citizens from the enemy smog....or maybe not...

What are considered cutting-edge inventions in stories you've seen?

26 comments:

T. Drecker said...

Oh..Oh...OH! I was just looking into both of those books last night :) Actually, I ended up taking a Steampunk with tons of inventions instead. But those two are on my list.

Natalie Aguirre said...

I hadn't really thought of inventions being created by magic. But you're right. It can create them. Hmm, maybe I'll have to think of some for my stories. Thanks for the idea.

Elise Fallson said...

I've got a contraption in one of my current wips but never thought about how the object itself reflects information about its creator. I need to think about this some more....

S.P. Bowers said...

Hmm, I haven't really worked with any inventions in my books, though They've added to books I've read.

Jackie said...

I'm so glad I stopped by your blog! Those books sound interesting, especially the one with the voodoo cake!

Misha Gericke said...

I must say that inventions are one thing I haven't really played yet in my writing.

Although there's this one spray... and an alloy.
:-D

Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

I would say pretty much everything in the Harry Potter books, although I guess that's more magic than inventions. :)

Oh, and I made a note of both "The Cake" story and The Cabinet blog. :)

Nick Wilford said...

Interesting point about inventions conveying information about the creator.

Hart Johnson said...

Oh, I agree--the inventions definitely tell us about the person who created them. I think about K-9 in Doctor Who and the reflection that is on Sarah Jane. Harry Potter, too--invented spells were one of the things we talked about a lot after Half Blood Prince (Snape's spells).

Damyanti said...

Love the concept of Un brellas :)!

Look forward to the rest of your challenge posts!
Damyanti @Daily(w)rite
Co-host, A to Z Challenge 2013

Twitter: @AprilA2Z
#atozchallenge
AZ blogs on Social Media

Daisy Carter said...

Wow, Un Lun Dun sounds awesome. And The Cake Made Out Of Teeth? Creepy, in the best way. I've got to check these out.

I write contemporary, but one of my characters in my current WIP is an inventor of sorts. His creations are more art than useful, but he's definitely got that spirit of "let's make something no one's ever seen."

Very cool post ;)

Lynn Proctor said...

i can't think of that one---i think it was called something like-witches and broomsticks---

Pat Hatt said...

Inventions sure can say a lot without saying a lot and for magic I bet that is M right? I know I'm so good at guessing, as that isn't obvious or anything haha

John Wiswell said...

Mieville in general has great takes on game-changing technology. The introduction of fiction into Embassytown, for instance? So wild that, of course, it went Marxist.

Melanie Schulz said...

In Emily White's book To Live or Die in a Steamy Reamy World, the inventor created werewolf-bots that came to life for a full moon. Could be useful.

Mina Burrows said...

There are so many books that reference time machines. I want a time machine so bad. :(

Silvia Villalobos said...

Most cutting-edge inventions I've seen come from medical thrillers although I can't remember a specific one right now. Some read so real, I forget I'm reading a fiction story.
Silvia @ Silvia Writes

Anstice Potts said...

One of my favourite things about sci-fi and fantasy fiction are the creative inventions that the authors come up with. I like the invention of the looms used to weave the fabric of time in Crewel by Gennifer Albin. I also love all the magical objects in Harry Potter that wizards use to make their lives easier.

Juliet Bond said...

Sounds ver Neil Gaiman! Just stopping by for the A-Z Challenge. Please check us out and sign up to follow if you like what you see. Juliet atCity Muse Country Muse

Sopphey Vance said...

Wow this is a really great theme! I'm going to have to come back to fully implement your topics into my WIP.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Suspended by a hanger? That sounds creepy!

Kathy said...

These books sound fascinating!

Kathy
http://gigglingtruckerswife.blogspot.com

Empty Nest Insider said...

The hanger sounds much worse than clapping erasers after school.

Julie

Lynda R Young said...

China Mieville is such a clever writer.

Cynthia said...

Thanks for your comments, everyone. I agree that there were some great inventions that came out of the Harry Potter books. And I find time machines intriguing too.

Telebrands said...

Interesting post. Thanks for sharing these literary inventions.

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