World building - Welcome to 28th century Earth.

There is a big difference between writing a book set in the real world, and writing one set in the world of your imagination. If a book is set in the real world, either as it is today or as it was in some past period of history, then the author has to make sure everything they write fits the reallife facts. If the book is set in an imaginary world, the author faces the huge task of inventing that world and making it believable to the reader. Some books are set in both the real world and an imaginary world, with characters travelling between the two. The orphan Harry Potter lives with the Dursleys in the real world for the school holidays, but each school term he catches the train from Kings Cross platform nine and threequarters to go to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. A much-loved, magical world that has succeeded in being believable to countless readers. My EARTH GIRL trilogy is set in a world that is a mixture of both the real and the imaginary. Our own Earth, but in the year 2788. Think how much our world has changed since the 14th century. I had to imagine the equally changed Earth of the 28th century, creating a world of my imagination but consistent with our world as it is now. To help me do that, I created a whole history timeline of key future events that would have happened between now and the 28th century. One of those key events is the invention of the portal in 2206. I imagined how being able to step instantly from one end of a continent to another, or even between continents, would change Earth drastically. Boundaries between countries becoming blurred. Roads and railways being abandoned to fall apart. The population of cities falling drastically because many people would choose to live in the country and portal to work. Then, a century later, there is the invention of interstellar portals. That would change Earth again. People would begin leaving Earth to build new lives on first one, then dozens of planets in other star systems. A trickle of people at first, then larger numbers. Founding dozens of colony worlds would be a huge strain on Earth. The cities would grow emptier, factories become short staffed, and experts would leave for new worlds. And what if people weren’t satisfied with dozens of worlds? What if they wanted hundreds? Earth would break down under the strain, bled dry of people and resources. Knowledge would be lost in the confusion. Manufacturing and supply chains would fail. When things broke down, they could no longer be replaced or repaired. Once life was better on the new worlds than on Earth, there would be a final rush to leave Earth. By the year 2788, I pictured people living on new colony worlds in 1200 star systems scattered across six sectors of space. Earth would be mostly abandoned, with sprawling ruined cities and wild countryside. I’d created the future world of my imagination, but building a world isn’t enough by itself. To bring it to life, you need characters with a story to tell. The EARTH GIRL trilogy is the story of Jarra. She lives on my future Earth, but only because she can’t leave. Other people casually portal between planets, but for Jarra the stars are forever out of her reach.

In 2788, only the handicapped live on Earth. While everyone else portals between worlds, 18year-old Jarra is among the one in a thousand people born with an immune system that cannot survive on other planets. Sent to Earth at birth to save her life, she has been abandoned by her parents. She can’t travel to other worlds, but she can watch their vids, and she knows all the jokes they make. She’s an ‘ape’, a ‘throwback’, but this is one ape girl who won’t give in.

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