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“World-building in near-future science fiction” with Sean Williams, Marianne de Pierres, John Birmingham and Meg Mundell

Today’s special guests are Sean Williams, Marianne de Pierres, John Birmingham and Meg Mundell.

World-building in near-future science fiction

Contents list (click for quick-links without scrolling)

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Introducing our special guests

Photo fo Sean Williams by Scott WesterfeldSean Williams

Sean Williams is a bestselling author with forty novels, ninety short stories, the odd odd poem and even a sci-fi musical under his belt. He writes for adults, young adults and children, and enjoys the occasional franchise, too, such as Star Wars and Doctor Who. His work has won awards, debuted at #1 on the New York Times hardback list, and been translated into numerous languages. His latest series areTroubletwisters, co-written with Garth Nix, and Twinmaker.

Sean’s full bio is on his website. He’s also on Twitter.

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Marianne de PierresMarianne de Pierres

Marianne de Pierres is a multi-award winning, best selling Australian author who publishes novels in the science fiction, fantasy, crime and young adult genres. Her stories have been translated into other languages and been adapted across different media platforms.

Visit her websites Marianne de Pierres, Tara Sharp and Burn Bright.

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John Birmingham HeadshotJohn Birmingham

JB was born in Liverpool, UK, in 1964. His parents went to a Beatles concert before it was cool. But then they kept listening to Beatles album after it wasn’t cool, too.

John grew up in Ipswich, Qld and knew he wanted to write from his early teen years. He started in the fringe and street press and worked ten years as a magazine feature writer before publishing He Died With A Felafel In His Hand.

Leviathan, the unauthorised biography of Sydney, was an escape from the gravity well of Felafel. Then Weapons of Choice, was an escape Leviathan. He is working on a new, multi book series best summed up as Magic returns to the world of Men and gets its arse kicked.

The first book A Protocol For Monsters, will be released in early 2015. The second and third books will follow a month later, respectively.

Editor’s note: JB can be found on Twitter and at Cheeseburger Gothic where he posts original commentary as well as links to his satirical snark on Murdock Media and other Reputable Australian Media Outlets.

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Meg MundellMeg Mundell

Meg Mundell is a Kiwi-born author and journalist who wrote the short story e-book Things I Did for Money and the novel Black Glass. The novel was shortlisted for two Aurealis Awards and highly commended in the Barbara Jefferis and Norma K. Hemming Awards. Meg has written for The Age, The Australian, The Monthly, Meanjin, Best Australian Stories, Sleepers Almanac, Australian Book Review, Eureka Street, New Matilda, The Big Issue and the Financial Review. She’s now raising a baby and doing a PhD on place in literature.

You can find Meg at her website and on Twitter.

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World-building Questions

I always invite questions to get the best possible discussion. Questions for this panel are below.

How does playing in someone else’s sandbox affect your writing? (For example, Sean Williams with Star Wars and Doctor Who, John Birmingham with Emberverse.)

As well as general approaches to world-building, which would apply to novelists with several books under their belts, specifics are also good.

Developing a particular world: how did they construct and research it?

How do you construct the emotional resonance of a place?

Do space, design and architecture contribute to world-building?

Impact of imagined near-future technologies on how we write place.
Character and place — how do the two play off each other?


  • Special guests: John Birmingham, Meg Mundell, Marianne de Pierres and Sean Williams
  • Nalini Haynes – discussion moderator, writer, producer
  • Edward Haynes – audio editor
  • Daniel Haynes – original theme music
Nalini is an award-winning writer and artist as well as managing editor of Dark Matter Zine.


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