All writers, when they set pen to paper or post pixel to page, are shaping a world: their own private world, created from their own thoughts and imagination, joys and sorrows, hopes and heartbreaks, triumphs and fears. It may mimic the real world, or it may be as different from the real world as, say, the world of Middle Earth is from the world of Blade Runner, but it is still a shaped world–a sub-creation, to use J.R.R. Tolkien’s formulation. It is not a real world, it does not have the depth or complexity of a real world, it is but an illusion…and yet, these fictional worlds, these illusions, though shaped by humans, not gods, can sometimes touch our minds and expand our spirits in ways nothing else can.
It is a kind of miracle, and very writer performs it in his or her own way. In The Worldshapers, Edward Willett, himself an award-winning writer of science fiction and fantasy, delves into the creative process with science fiction and fantasy writers of every kind, seeking to better understand this magical, mystical skill…the skill of worldshaping.