Modern-Day Solitude?

Hi folks!  I’m still working on the second installment of the Harp story, but have it pretty close to wrapped up.  I figure I’ll post it in the next week.  Meanwhile, I thought I’d spend a little time talking about some of the challenges writing Skyrim fan fiction in a more modern setting. 

Blue Palace Ruins Small
Remains of the Blue Palace — now part of the Blue Palace Museum and Interpretive Center

Did you ever think about what the city of Solitude (and other parts of Skyrim) would be like in an era contemporary to our own?  Writing “Reverberations” and the ongoing “Harp’s Call” put me in a position where I had to do that.  Now, what “modern” Solitude is like is limited only by one’s imagination, and the possibilities are endless.  Maybe Solitude is a series of glass towers.  Or maybe it’s all underground, the surface returning to nature.  As for me, I took kind of a safe route:  I imagined the place to by sort of like a large city in 21st century Northern Europe, a mixture of ultra-modern and ancient.  To give the stories that flavor, I tried dropping Swedish street and place names here and there (I don’t speak Swedish, so I really don’t know if I did it correctly!).  Of course, over the centuries, Solitude grew up, and now extends in all directions.  Adrian, the star of “Reverberations,” lives in the neighborhood around Dragonbridge, while little Cari lives in an area not far from what used to be the Thalmor embassy. 

Okay, fair enough so far.  That much, I discovered, was the easy part.  But to give an impression of what it’s like to actually live in modern-day Solitude, one has to establish more detail.  What would a citizen there expect to see or do?  Where do people go?  How do they get there?  Part of that I tried to establish in “Reverberations.”  Adrian works for a logistics firm, handling transoceanic shipments.  He commutes to work on a tram or streetcar.  He doesn’t own an automobile, but his colleague, Hendrikson, does, though he has to charter an autogyro to deal with a distant emergency.  Longer journeys might be taken via rail or ferry.  I also suggested another form of transportation, the landship, which I never defined, but I imagined it as a means of freight movement, taking up a role somewhere between rail and over-the-road trucking. 

But what about other aspects of life in modern-day Solitude?  The more I think about it, the more complicated it gets.  Here is a partial list of questions:

  • How do people communicate?  Do they have telephones like we do?  Does everybody run around with a smart phone?  If they do, is it called that?
  • What about other gadgets?  Do people have computers?  Did they ever develop something like the Internet?  What do they call it? 
  • What is life like for children?  While I’m assuming they go to school, how are the schools organized? 
  • How do people get, well, stuff?  Do they have department stores and supermarkets?  

Talk about world building!  But these are some of the questions I have to ask myself, and either explain in the stories, or work around somehow.  While I don’t know of anyone who’s tried to tell a modern-day Skyrim story, I’m sure somebody must have; I can’t be the only one!  I’d be interested in hearing how other people approach these issues. 

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