In this eight-part lecture series, astrophysicist and folklorist Moiya McTier will walk you through building an imagined world of your own.
For centuries, fictional worlds featured in novels, comics, and films have served as canvases for speculation, entertainment, and even self-reflection. From Wonderland to Middle-earth, these worlds can look drastically different from ours, or can be slight variations of the one we occupy. No matter how these fictional worlds are born from our reality, they take time, effort, and some science to build.
In this eight-part course, astrophysicist, folklorist, and writer Moiya McTier will walk you through the process of facts-based worldbuilding—from constructing the physical environment of a world to building the biology of the beings living in it and the culture those beings share. In each session, Moiya will cover basic concepts of various academic disciplines that you’ll need to create an imagined planet and society, building an original fictional world before your eyes. At the end of the course, you’ll have the knowledge and framework to construct your own fictional world.
Syllabus at a Glance
There are eight total sessions included in this purchase, each lasting for one hour on eight consecutive Tuesdays beginning October 13. This lecture series is designed so students can participate live or watch at their leisure. Sessions will take place live over Zoom, with dedicated Q&A segments for students to ask questions via video or chat. All enrolled students will receive recordings of each session shortly after class ends and will be able to access them for up to one week using a temporary password.
Session 1 (Tuesday, 10/13, 8–9 PM ET): Introduction to worldbuilding
Session 2 (Tuesday, 10/20, 8–9 PM ET): Building the planet’s system
Session 3 (Tuesday, 10/27, 8–9 PM ET): Building the planet
Session 4 (Tuesday, 11/3, 8–9 PM ET): Building the life
Session 5 (Tuesday, 11/10, 8–9 PM ET): Building the culture
Session 6 (Tuesday, 11/17, 8–9 PM ET): Building the folklore and religion
Session 7 (Tuesday, 11/24, 8–9 PM ET): Building the technology
Session 8 (Tuesday, 12/1, 8–9 PM ET): Building the politics
Atlas Obscura Online Courses
Our online courses offer opportunities for participants to emerge with new skills, knowledge, connections, and perspectives through multi-session classes designed and taught by expert instructors. Courses can take one of two forms: Seminars are intimate, interactive classes—capped at nine to 20 students—exploring topics and crafts through discussion, workshops, assignments, and in-class activities. We also offer lecture series that can be attended live, or viewed a time that works for you for up to one week after they’ve aired.
To learn more about our current course offerings, please visit www.atlasobscura.com/online-courses.
Once registered, you can access the Zoom room for this course through your confirmation email or Eventbrite account.
Moiya McTier is an astrophysicist and folklorist who specializes in facts-based fictional worldbuilding. She studied both astrophysics and folklore mythology at Harvard University and is in her last year of a PhD program in astronomy at Columbia University. In her astronomy research, Moiya studies how the motion of the Milky Way affects populations of planets throughout the Galaxy.
Moiya’s first experience with facts-based worldbuilding was her undergraduate senior thesis, a science fiction novel set on an exoplanet she studied. She wanted the world to be as motivated by her research as possible, and soon found that it didn’t make sense to stop at accurate planetary science, so she talked to biologists and psychologists to make her fictional world seem more realistic. Since then, Moiya has designed interactive exhibits for the New York Hall of Science, helped the World Science Festival design a galaxy in virtual reality, and given hundreds of talks about science and worldbuilding. After leading worldbuilding workshops around the world, Moiya started a podcast called Exolore, where she builds fictional worlds with panels of expert guests, interviews professional worldbuilders, and reviews the merits of worlds that have already been built.