This video from nerdwriter challenges speculative fiction that employs extensive "world building," suggesting that it may be a negative influence on readers - and society.
I don't agree with everything said here, but this critique made me go hmmm, which I like. I have three challenges to his thesis:
- People read for myriad reasons, and engage with narratives in many ways. I disagree with the suggestion that reading world-building fiction to explore an invented world is a less valid reading experience.
- I don't believe that fans of world-heavy fiction franchises are prone to passivity. Those fandoms serve as touchstones for connection and discussion. Alternate worlds provide an accessible staging area for the active embellishment of fan fiction. (Fan fiction is itself still a topic of disagreement, but I see it as a sign an author has created a world that appears self-sustaining and full of opportunity for the reader.)
- I don't see a real-world connection between following a fiction franchise and accepting the self-serving world narratives of commercial or political interests. (I'd be interested in any psychological research that suggests that this is at least conceptually likely.) Fans of complex fiction are more, not less engaged with questioning of authorial intent, and actively seek to understand and explain every aspect of the narrative they're reading. That seems inconsistent with a social tendency toward unquestioning acceptance of imposed social/political/commercial narratives.
I don't read much fiction of this type, but greatly admire when an author has a comprehensive, all-encompassing vision of a fictional world. I'm pretty sure George R.R. Martin can recall more detail about his fictional world than I remember about my own life.