Welcome to another fantastic stop in our Worldbuilding Showcase blog hop! On this stop, we’re highlighting a story where the world changes or ends as we know it, but you can find a full list of authors and topics on the OWS Cycon website.
Let’s dive in!
1. Before we dive in to the nittygritty, what is the Tinkers World series about?
Starting over doesn’t mean escaping the past.
Over a hundred years before the first book, human society collapsed from the excesses of the twentieth and twentyfirst centuries. Two high tech societies have risen from the ashes in the area that is today Ontario by centring on the old hydroelectric plants. Novo Gaia and the United Grid Regions. Novo Gaia runs the tinker program, where they send Doctors of General Applied Technologies, colloquially known as a Tinker, into the Dark Lands, areas without electricity, to help the people bootstrap themselves back to energy abundance through the use of sustainable technologies. Tinkers also supply basic medical, veterinary and other services.
In Tinker’s Plague Brad, a tinker, enters the Dark Lands town of Guelph to find that a plague has been released from an abandon research facility. Brad must deal with the plague while Novo Gaia and the United Grid Regions fight a cold war battle about how much aid to give the afflicted area.
In Tinker’s Sea, Tabby, a tinker working an aquatic tinker’s route on lake Heroin, is tasked with neutralizing a notorious pirate that is marauding over the Great Lakes in a broken down nuclear submarine, leaving a trail of radiation and death in their wake.
2. Does language play any role in your world? Does everyone speak the same language, or is there variety? Did you invent any new slang or terminology during your world building process?
Everyone speaks English, though sometimes the dialect can be quite thick. I do incorporate a lot of new swear words. Shorting or shorted, being an example. The lack of abundant energy is the key element in this book; thus, anything that wastes energy is considered profane. An electrical short wastes energy. Ground Out is similar.
3. What kinds of climates do your characters experience? Do they see a lot of change or is it always the same? Has your world always had this kind of climate, or has it changed over time?
The tinker books take place over a week or two of subjective time, so there isn’t much time for seasonal change. Overall the climate is a little more aggressive in the Ontario area than it is today due to global warming. It is implied that in much of the rest of the world things are far worse. Tornado alley is earth shelter or no shelter, with a much decreased population and the frequency of hurricanes tracking up the Mississippi into the area that is currently Ontario is greatly increased. I do state that the Ontario area is one of the last congenial places for human habitation on the planet. This is likely to be true because of the moderating effects of the great lakes and Hudson Bay.
4. Is there any kind of faith system in your world? Did you draw inspiration from any real cultures, living or dead?
The faith system of the Tinker’s World books is a mosaic of belief systems. Most practice mutual tolerance and respect because life is too hard to bother with petty differences. Some cults are quite negative and exclusionary, and they are shown as the negative that they are in the real world. How a person behaves is far more important than the name they call the divine.
5. What do people in your world do for fun? Are there sports, games, music, or other activities they do in their free time?
All of the above though professional sports are gone by the wayside. Most villages could field a soccer or baseball team. Pubs are centres of culture and if your pub owner has managed to set up a viewing room, a room with a working television powered by solar panels and wind turbines, then an evening at the movies is a real treat. Tinker’s assist in the installation of power supply technologies and do a brisk trade in televisions and stereos helping to establish viewing and listening rooms. Novo Gaia and the United Grid Regions each maintain a television station distributing programming with a heavy dose of propaganda. Permaburn video disks, that can be found in the ruins of the precollapse buildings, go for top dollar.
6. What kinds of transportation and other interesting technology do your characters have access to? Are they ahead, behind, or a mix of different kinds of tech compared to where we are now?
In the dark lands, areas without electricity, its mostly horse and cart. In Novo Gaia, they have a system of communally owned electric cars that are plugged into recharge stations when not in use. A corner lot of each block is cleared of building and set up as a parking space with a solar electric canopy sheltering it. If you need a car, you take one, swipe your driver’s license and scan your thumbprint and drive off. The system bills you until you reconnect it to an approved recharge station. A micro camera monitors the car and vandalism charges, as well as additional bills, are levied if someone gets stupid. There are some private vehicles. These are mostly rebuilt precollapse cars and are considered a great luxury and unnecessary extravagance.
7. Without giving away too much, what can you tell us about your worldending event and how it led to the world of your story? Was it a distant event or does it happen as part of your tale?
Fossil fuels became a nonviable resource because of scarcity and the carbon load in the atmosphere. The climate was at a tipping point where the last congenial places for human habitation were about to be lost. This coincided with a major solar event that sent an EM pulse over the earth. A decision was made to only restore the electrical grid to areas that could be maintained with sustainable noncarbon dioxide producing energy. Half a century earlier the number of nuclear accidents and nuclear waste build up finally resulted in The shelving of that technology.
The collapse is barely living memory, rather like WW2 today.
8. When you build a world, what is your process like? Do you do a lot of research upfront, wing it completely, or something in between?
I do a lot of research up front then augment as a go along.
9. How central is the setting of your story to the story itself? Is it more of an interesting backdrop, or is it integral to the events of the story?
My stories couldn’t occur without the setting. The world a character lives in shapes them, and the character shapes the world. The setting is like a major character present in every scene affecting all it touches but largely taken for granted by the reader.
10. When helping the reader get to know the world you built, what techniques do you use? Do you tend to be upfront about things, or keep the reader in the dark and feed them only bits at a time?
I tell them what they need to know when they need to know it. I have a saying, say it once, say it well, say it when it matters, then leave it alone. Say it once is obvious, say it well is clear writing that flows, saying it when it matters means it will stick with the reader and leaving it alone respects the reader to be smart enough to retain it. It is boring to hear the same thing over and over again.
11. How much of a role does realism and hard scientific fact play in your worldbuilding? Do you strive for 100% accuracy, or do you leave room for the fantastical and unexplainable in your world?
In the Tinker’s World realism is very high. I’d place it somewhere in the 90 percentile as a potential. Every technology I use in the books either exists or is in the prototype stage of development. That said, how things will fall out over the next two hundred years, who knows? My hope when I wrote Tinker’s Plague was that it would help lead us away from the horrible future I envision. With the election of governments with a blatant antiearth, anticommon man agenda, I am sadly inclined to think we are doomed.
12. Do you have any specialized training or background from your “real life” that has informed your world building?
In my younger days, I trained as an Emergency Medical Care Assistant. I have also studied sustainable energy systems as a hobby for thirty years. I am a scuba diver and a good general handyman. These all factor into the Tinker’s World series.
13. How do you keep all of the details of your world and characters straight? Do you have a system for deciding on different factors and keeping it all organized, or does it live more in your head?
It lives more in my head, but I do keep notes. I also have a lot of things highlighted in the novels to keep track of them.
14. Did you experience any difficulties while building your world? Any facts that refused to cooperate or inconsistencies you needed to address while editing?
I was very lucky. One of my batá readers was a doctor of pathology, and she helped me work out the bugs in my Plague in Tinker’s Plague. There is a goof in Tinker’s Plague where I make a statement about wind turbines that was true of the first generation technology but has been addressed in later systems. Mostly, it was just a pain figuring out how big the bright lands population centres could be based on the output of the Hydro plants in Ontario and for the Novo Gains augmenting it with wind, solar, inline hydro, methine generators and other biomass energy sources.
Where can people find you on the web?
Stephen B. Pearl: www.stephenpearl.com
Stephen B. Pearl on Amazon: www.amazon.com/author/stephenpearl
Blog Stephen’s Musings: http://stephenpearl.blogspot.com
Thank you for reading and thank you to my host for sharing their blog site. More can be found at my CyCon booth at: https://owscycon.ourwriteside.com/forums/topic/stephenbpearlbooth4/