Tales From Talifar Vision Statement
By Josh Foreman with contributions from Lelia Foreman
Started on September 15, 2003, using ideas from as long ago as 1990
This is the first document created to record my concept for a fiction world. It will doubtless undergo countless revisions over the course of several years until I have things nailed down, and then a more formal document will be created. This doc will be informal and conversational in tone.
The basic idea is to create a fictional world for artists to create art in. A world that will have as much popular culture weight as Star Wars or Lord of the Rings. I want to build a company around the idea of an ever-expanding, super detailed universe that maintains consistency in all of its iterations.
I intend to approach the creation of this ‘universe’ and its inhabitants with a scientific perspective. If a fairy’s body mass is disproportionate to its wing’s tensile strength or the caloric intake would be insufficient to power it, the fairy will not happen. Chemistry, biology, physics, etc. all work the same on this planet as they do on earth. I believe that utilizing a known, standard set of rules will allow for a consistency and depth that has never been achieved in a fantasy-oriented fictional world before.
“What are you talking about? Sci-fi worlds are usually scientifically accurate, right?”
Why yes, they are. But no world has ever achieved the depth and detail that the Talifar ‘universe’ will have.
“More than Tolkien’s Middle Earth? He was a brilliant linguist and author who created scores of languages and thousands of years of history. How can Talifar possibly compete with that?”
Tolkien did it alone. I will not. I plan on utilizing the shared knowledge and creativity of hundreds of scientists, authors, linguists, song-writers, artists, and Roman Plumbing experts to forge this world of unsurpassed depth. You see, Talifar is not being created as a backdrop for a story or two. It is being created to be the springboard for a thousand stories, songs, sculptures, games, and poetry. The creation of this world is not a means to an end. This work is my art. I don’t want to make a franchise with it; I want to build a company around it. Talifar will not be a book that was turned into a movie and a video game. It will not be a video game that was turned into a book and a movie. Talifar will be a genre-less creation. (Unless world-creation is a genre.) It will provide the backdrop and tools for hundreds of artists to work in, expanding it.
“Like Star Wars has its Expanded Universe set of books, comics, and games?”
Yes, like that. But unlike George Lucas, I will not be focused on only one story and medium in the universe to the exclusion of the others. Lucas completely ignores what the other artists have given to his universe. That bugs the snot out of me. Why license your stuff if you don’t keep things consistent? I don’t get it. Well, actually I do. It’s about pride. I don’t think Lucas can admit that there are better story tellers using his world. Well I don’t have that problem. I know I suck. I am a jack of all trades, master of none. That knowledge empowers me to put specific tasks in the hands of more capable people.
Anyway, the main reason most fiction universes get inconsistent is that many people in many companies have to make up a bunch of stuff to make their stories happen. Why do they have to make stuff up? Because the universe was based on one story or medium. And many things about the world just weren’t necessary for the telling of that story. But when someone else makes new characters or places within that universe, they usually have to fill holes. You have enough different people in different places at different times filling holes and you are sure to get inconsistency. It’s a top-down solution to creating a universe. I propose a bottom-up solution.
The Short-term Plan
Start the way God did it. Since creating a world is just like a baby imitating its father, I will look at the way God did things. Of course, I have it easy. He already made up the physics, chemistry, math, geology, and every other system that makes up our physical reality. So I will just look to those who understand those systems for feedback as I begin to form this universe.
As I began to put my various ideas together one thing became apparent very quickly. There is an enormous amount of interdependencies when it comes to making up a world. The first one to pop up was the problems of names. What do I call this world, its inhabitants, its land masses, and everything else? I can’t just make stuff up. That’s not how our world’s stuff got names. So I realized I need a proto-language. Something like whatever was spoken before Babel. I figure that with beings that live millions of years, (the Ancient Ones, a giant, deep-sea dwelling people.) there could actually be one, ancient language that most of the others have roots in. And that ancient language could be the base for naming many things such as the world, moons, oceans, continents, races, etc. So now I need a linguist. But what do I tell them? To make a convincing language, they need to know a lot about the culture that created it. That means I will need to provide a history of the planet going back to the dawn of civilization. Take into account that there are around a dozen sentient races and we have a lot to figure out. The environment shapes cultures in huge ways. So I need to figure out stuff about the environment they come from. Which leads us back to geological considerations. How many continents are there on this world. Where are the oceanic conveyer belts? How many tectonic plates? Which way are they sliding? How fast? How old is this planet anyway? What happens to the tides if there is more than one moon? That is where I am at now. The geological level.
So how do I get the information I need? I’m still figuring that out. I am currently studying geology so that I can make a good guess at an appropriate design. Once I have that, I will want to check it with scientists who can correct any mistakes and assumptions I have made due to my ignorance of the field. I have not had any luck in contacting the university professors that I have solicited in this matter yet.
That is simple consulting work. I think many would do that just for fun. But what about a linguist who has to put considerably more time and effort into creating a language? How do I compensate them fairly, when I have a current budget of $0.00? I can’t really promise them a share of the profits when I am a millionaire. For starters, I’m pretty sure I never will be one. For seconds, even if I did become successful with this idea, the sheer amount of individuals I will need to get to that point will probably be far too great to be sending profit percentages to. I can certainly trade art services to some. (I have offered one linguist a sort of Rosetta Stone carved with the language he creates for me in return.) But I doubt that will work with everyone. This matter has yet to be resolved. It is possible that I am overestimating the amount of individuals that I will need in order to get Talifar started.
The Long Term Goal
My goal is to be Creative Director at Talifar Headquarters in Seattle, Washington. I will oversee -on the high level- the production of every product associated with the Talifar universe. I, along a small team, will ensure that a common vision is carried out through each story, game, toy, etc. Companies will contract with mine to create products based on Talifar. I will have a team of experts to consult at these companies, to make sure every aspect of their story fits into the world. One of these people will be the Official Talifar Historian. They will be the main continuity specialist. The skeleton of the history of Talifar will be available for fleshing out by anyone deemed worthy to do so. As these details are made and approved, the Official Talifar Historian will add them to a growing database that can be accessed by all the Talifar contributing artists. They will be able to cross check facts with their own ideas.
How to get there
Uuuh… Um. Hmm. Well, I’ll need a business-savvy, trustworthy individual to partner with eventually. I’ll need a business plan. I assume the best rout to building a brand is to start with the cheaper products, such as comics, books, music, animation shorts, and maybe toys. (As opposed to making a movie or television series.) Though there are still considerable amounts of work and money involved in getting these kinds of things rolling as well.
Personally, I will need experience organizing and leading a group of creative individuals. I have some experience, but probably not enough. Fortunately, I have enough artistic skill to do most of the early conceptual work, so I can lay a lot of ground work before I need to involve anyone else.
At some point I will need to find enthusiastic contributors who are willing to work hard for a possible pay off in the future.