I did some searching and then decided to just start a new thread anyway! Please feel free point me in the right direction if there's already a thread for this, but some discussions here and elsewhere have made me really want to discuss world-building and I thought I'd start a thread. What makes a world stand out to the reader? What makes you want to go back to it an re-read the books just to visit that world again? What makes a world so good you want to discuss it with others and look at the map and read more stories that take place in it? There are a lot of pretty decent fantasy worlds built for different novels, games, etc, but many of those will eventually be forgotten. Many of them are just there because they need to be for the plot to happen, which can make for a great read, but I'd argue that it's the stand-out worlds that make you want to re-read and revisit their novels! Those are the ones that make fans willing to write fan-fiction about them or obsessively discuss them over and over again and so on. So what makes them awesome? What, to you, are the key ingredients that make the world click for you and make you into a fan? I read a lot of fantasy and science fiction in general, but there are really only a few worlds that stand out enough for me to revisit over and over. Worlds that excite me despite the (sometimes many) flaws! Middle Earth I had to start with this one, obviously! There are parts of the LOTR that I found super boring and other parts that I found silly or unnecessary or even questionable (even racist - I'm referring to the wood people episode in Rohan which never made it to the movies). I also really disliked Tolkien's overuse of class hierarchies. For example: Elves are better than everyone else, but then there are the more noble elves and the more lowly wood-elves, etc, etc. Despite all these flaws I have read both the Hobbit and LOTR several times each and will continue to do so, and of course I've watched the books over and over. So what does Middle Earth have that makes me able to not just look past these flaws, but willingly reimmerse myself in that world over and over. I'd say it's the sheer scope of it. The insane amount of detail and background that exists. It makes the world feel real in a sense that's very immersive. With other fantasy stories, even ones that rely on many Tolkien tropes, you don't see that level of detail and background. I don't read the footnotes and hated the Silmarillion, but when you read the Hobbit and LOTR the experience feels like going to a real place because of all that background that exists. The Potterverse Again, HP has its flaws and I had huge issues with the ending in particular, but this is a world I will revisit again and again. Why? Rowling didn't invent entire languages for her world and her magic system, while it has some basic rules, has definitely had its share of "let's make up something new because we need it now" situations. So what makes this world stand out? I'd say that for me, for HP, it's the way Rowling uses humor and ridiculous situations to discuss human nature. There are scenes and turns of phrase in HP that are highly amusing and even hilarious, but not just because they're silly, because they're backed up by characters that feel real and they really say something about people. For example, Fred and George's antics are made even more interesting and awesome by the way they affect people, the way others react to them, etc. When I re-read these books I often find myself smiling or laughing at small little sentences here and there that I had previously overlooked or forgotten. So there's a depth to the world that's less like Tolkien's rigorous world-building and more to do with the humans that inhabit that world. If that makes any sense. Pern This is one I had much bigger issues with(not even going to go there right now, because I might not be able to stop), but I often find myself going back to the good books of it. Why, when it has so many problems to overcome? I think in this case it's because of the historical depth. You read the books that take place in Lessa's time and they read like straight up generic fantasy, but then when you read the more science fiction books about Pern's colonization and go back to Lessa's time there's all kinds of awesome fun in looking at what was forgotten and what was passed down through the generations and how it got morphed and changed as time went by. One example is the flame'throwers they use to flame thread when they don't have dragons handy. It's called "agenothree" which my science geek brain finds awesome, because it's actually HNO3 or nitric acid, but through the generations, even though they forgot all their science and settled into a much less developed lifestyle, they still use it and their word for it developed accordingly. Stuff like that is cool. Also, with Pern, I love that McCaffrey does different points of view from different social classes or groups of people. I've read things about the dragon rider elite, but also about the runners that send messages and the lowly watchwher's and so on. I guess that kind of thing can only come with time, with dipping back into the same world over and over, not necessarily to write sequels, just to fill out the world more. However, I will say once again, that not all Pern stuff is good and even the good books have issues... >.> /disclaimer There are a few other examples of interesting worlds I like to revisit, but they're mostly TV based or sci-fi and this post is getting really huge so I will leave it at that for now. Just a last though is that I think, as with all these examples, there has to be something else there other than just the map and the names and places to make a world stand out. It has to be something compelling, other than the "what happens next?" of the plot to make me want to revisit. And it doesn't have to be something huge. Thoughts? Other examples?