Introducing WorldBuilder


Sometimes, when you’ve read a great book you just don’t want the experience to end. We know that many of you are talented creators in your own right – artists, writers, musicians, puppeteers, and so many other things. This is why we designed WorldBuilder.

WorldBuilder is our way of reaching out to the fan creator communities, to invite you to come play in our yard.

We’re not new to the concept, of course. We once ran a short story competition based in the world of Moxyland by Lauren Beukes, and the best three stories were featured at the back of Lauren’s award-winning Zoo City.

WorldBuilder takes that idea and moves it forward a billion or so steps (note: might not be a billion).

In January, when we publish Adam Christopher’s uber-cool prohibition-superhero-noir novel, Empire State, we’ll be inviting fan creators everywhere to visit the world of Empire State and create their own works of art based in the Empire State universe. These creations can then be uploaded to a dedicated website, and distributed under a Creative Commons license.

The best of these will be featured in a number of “Best of” anthologies (with most of the proceeds going to the creators).

Additionally, we’re commissioning some short stories from some rather well-known writers, as well as other cool things from creators in other fields. WorldBuilder will be managed for us by the mighty Mur Lafferty.

Empire State is the perfect novel to kick off the WorldBuilder project; there are an infinite number of stories to be told within that world – private eye, superhero, gangster, fringe science, alternate realities – and an infinite number of ways these stories can be told.

The website addresses you’ll need: (launches in January,a longside the novel) and (launches in the autumn).

Tell Your Friends:




[…] it is: at the Angry Robot publisher’s presentation at WorldCon just now, the Empire State Worldbuilding project was announced. We’ve been working on this for a while and I’m thrilled that I can finally talk about […]


Let me be the first to say that EMPIRE STATE deserves its own pen-and-paper RPG.

— Chuck


Whoa. Whoa.

Nope, that’s all I’ve got.


Sounds great! How about a fantasy setting, and a dedicated science fiction one?


Marc D – whoaaaa! Give us a chance to get the first one out, first! 🙂

We intend to branch out in the future, but for now we’re dedicating our time to Empire State.

But yes – fantasy is definitely on our list.


So. Awesome!

Can’t wait to check this out…

*twiddles thumbs*


Another genius idea. I hope it brings the success it deserves.


Once again Angry Robot Books proves it’s ahead of the game. I have wondered for years why publishers (and entertainment producers) don’t embrace the huge fandom communities online. Now I hear you’re not only going to tolerate these works (i.e. not claim copyright infringment) but actually encourage their production. This move can only be good for you and your authors, as I’ve seen first-hand how the efforts of a dedicated fandom can really support a work long after its initial rise. Fanworks not only provide creative outlets for their creators, but may actively bring new fans into the fold. Good going, guys.


[…] Robot have announced their latest project – WorldBuilder. More playing around with what’s possible under Creative Commons Licences and embracing fan […]


Wow. Absolutely genius. May I second the suggestion for a Fantasy setting and the dedicated Science Fiction setting as well?

And – I hesitate to mention it – might I toss in the words Doctor Who Universe in there?

In any case, this looks amazing!


Thanks for seconding the fantasy suggestion, Ingrid – it’s definitely under consideration for the future. As for Doctor Who… as we don’t control the rights we can’t offer that opportunity, I’m afraid.


What an outstanding idea! This is a superb way to harness the best of fan-fiction writers and bring them into the fold. The internet teems with people inventing their own stories within established worlds, working solely for love of the world. I look forward to seeing this take off in a big way, which I am certain it will.

(Also, it is good to see such an interesting world as Adam Christopher’s noir fantasy setting acting as guinea pig for the Worldbuilder project!)


[…] could be legitimized to the benefit of all.  Looks like the clever folks at Angry Robot books are spearheading the movement. WorldBuilder takes that idea and moves it forward a billion or so steps (note: might not be a […]


I can’t think of a better editor for this project than Ms. Lafferty. She and other progressive new media/transmedia storytellers have pioneered such fan-fueled creative initiatives for years. Angry Robot is very fortunate indeed to have Lafferty contribute to this project.


Hi Lee,

Is the Empire State Worldbuilder only for artwork, or is it open for fiction and non-fiction (such as faux newspaper clippings/letters/diary entries)?



[…] Robot is creating a home for fan fiction and fan art based on some of their books (presumably the ones whose authors have given an explicit go-ahead). The “best” of the […]


Is it sad that I’m already planning a general outline of my story before I’ve even read the book?
Great idea!
The book sounds really interesting and I want it even more now.


Can those “works of art” include fiction?

I and many other writers are already working in the pulp 1930’s universe and this would be a chance to let others get a taste of our work – in the Empire State universe of course…

W. Peter Miller


Very impressed with this on many levels. Creative Commons, Mur, fandom, collaborative worldbuilding, value co-creation…

Would like to learn more and see about listing this at!


Great idea… it’s about time publishers take into consideration that the worlds we create are just worlds where more than one story can and does happen…

I just wonder how you will moderate it, since certain characters and plot lines must be kept sacred to preserve the overall feel of the author’s universe. I have seen some fan art that more than stretch the limits the universe and characters. As an example, I recently saw fan image of Darth Vader in a Tron outfit, cool idea but nowhere near the established limits of either universes.

Still, it’ll be great to see how you guys do it…


WorldBuilder material can include pretty much anything germane to the world – fiction, articles, maps, gazeteers, encyclopedia entries, faux advertising, music, poetry, and of course artwork and designs of all kinds.


A 1930’s pulp setting, free for all to join! Oh how delightful! I shall start lurking for the website to launch straight away!


[…] also a few more snippets of information over at Angry Robot, if you check the comments section of the announcement. Obviously nothing more than the WorldCon […]


[…] The guys at Angry Robot Books have come up with something big. The idea is WorldBuilder and they go into depth about what it is here, on their own blog. […]


[…] No…no…it’s not one of our experiments gone wrong. Angry Robot is a UK-based publisher of an eclectic range of books which hit all of our sweet spots: science fiction, fantasy, steampunk, horror…and every combination in between. We’ve been impressed with the work that they are doing to move the genre(s) forward, so we wanted to take a week and give you the skinny on their titles and news on their latest initiative, WorldBuilder. […]


[…] UK sci-fi/fantasy publisher Angry Robot Books is taking a different approach: this fall it will launch WorldBuilderOnline, where anyone can submit pretty much any sort of Creative Commons-licensed original content based on specific works published by Angry Robot. The best submissions will be repackaged in anthologies and published professionally, “with most of the proceeds going to the creators” according to Angry Robot’s blog announcement. […]


[…] Angry Robot’s WorldBuilder, on the other hand, seems like a much more intriguing communal experience. It’s, again, not one I’m likely to participate in myself, just because I don’t tend to seek out secondary worlds like this — fan fiction, role-playing games, etc. — but there’s something potentially very cool (and profitable, obviously) about a publisher embracing and facilitating this kind of thing right out of the gate. [via] […]


[…] from publishing excellent books, they are doing some seriously cool, innovative things, like their freshly announced WorldBuilder project. All this week, we’re taking a look at some of their novels and short stories, as well as […]


Sounds like a fun and creative event. Looking forward to contributing to Empire State! Dave


[…] « Worldbuilder » as one way to co-create (monetizable) value with audiences. […]


[…] have been commissioned to do some photography for a magazine called WorldBuilder. The concept with WorldBuilder is to expand on an existing novel, to get writers, puppeteers, […]


[…] biggest project on my plate right now is a shoot for a magazine called Worldbuilder. For this shoot, I am going to be creating a series of photos based on the novel Empire State, a […]


[…] of money into the mix is going to stem this tide. My optimism is buoyed by new projects like Angry Robot Books’ Worldbuilder project, where fans will be compensated for their […]


[…] from this shoot will be available in the Worldbuilder anthology for Empire […]


[…] toys. Angry Robot did something like this for Adam Christopher’s novel Empire State called WorldBuilder. Scorr Sigler has invited authors such as Matt Wallace and Mur Lafferty to write novellas for his […]

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