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How building imaginary worlds in fiction can help us envision a better future

Writers have to create a world for their characters to live in — a world with a history, a political structure, a climate, a language, a culture.

It’s a helpful tool for writers delving into science fiction or fantasy — think J.R.R. Tolkein writing an entire language for the Elvish people before writing "The Lord of the Rings."

Matt Bell calls it worldbuilding. He’s a professor of creative writing at Arizona State University and an acclaimed novelist who writes science fiction or speculative fiction. 

Bell is heading up a new initiative at ASU all about worldbuilding — but it’s not just for writing. He says the same ideas can be applied to the real world, especially one facing an uncertain, climate change future. The Show spoke with him about how in-depth it can be.

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Lauren Gilger, host of KJZZ's The Show, is an award-winning journalist whose work has impacted communities large and small, exposing injustices and giving a voice to the voiceless and marginalized.