General · reading · science fiction

E is for Ecology in Books

Webster defines ecology as:

1: a branch of science concerned with the interrelationship of organisms and their environments

2: the totality or pattern of relations between organisms and their environment

3: human ecology

4: environment, climate <the moral ecology>; also : an often delicate or intricate system or complex <the ecology of language>

World-building is one of my favorite parts of reading and some authors spend a lot of time on it. They build elaborate worlds, specify plants and animals, how they are all interrelated. Lots of times they focus on definition number two: he totality or pattern of relations between organisms and their environment

Or at least it feels like some writers spend a lot of time on the ecology. Maybe they don’t; maybe they are just winging and it’s hard to tell.

I loved the creatures in a lot of the books I read as a teenager and how they were all interrelated. It was one of the things that drew me to the books (really, to science fiction and fantasy) in the first place.

They include the Pern books. It has the little dragons that people used to engineer the big dragons, and the seafood they eat, the crevices where they lay their eggs, the oil from the sea birds she used to moisturize their skin. It all fit so wonderfully together. I loved it.

It’s one of the little details I love in books, how all the creatures relate to each other. Weather they use other or use the remains in some odd way or something else. It is still one of the things that I look forward to in books.

And, yeah, lots of times I am disappointed, but looking for that magic is one of the reasons why I keep looking for new books.



19 thoughts on “E is for Ecology in Books

  1. You got me with the title. I hadn’t really thought about it before but you’re right – sometimes the background of creatures (and cultures) and how they interact; how the hierarchies are built, even, become just as interesting as the story.

    Great post!

  2. The power of world building absolutely puts the reader right there in the world with the writer. And I agree! I loved the depth of the pern books as well.

  3. Where real thought it put into ecology and world building in a book – it usually gives the book so much more depth. I love immersing myself in books like that.

  4. I read to be transported, so a fully-realized world in fiction always makes me happy. Yolen was really good about that in her Pit Dragon Chronicles, and of course Tolkein. I admit I never read a Pern book!

    Alex Hurst, A Fantasy Author in Kyoto
    A-Z Blogging in April Participant

  5. brilliant post for the letter – e. I haven’t had a lot of experience in world building (since most of what I write is contemporary), but I’ve always been curious of how the process works – and have respected the labor intensity that goes along with building a new world for your characters to play in brick by brick. So thanks for the insight. 🙂 and good luck with the rest of the A to Z.

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