One of the distinguishing features of the speculative fiction genre in its published form is the maps. Avid readers of fantasy and science fiction are known to pour over the maps included in the books they read, maps describing fantastical worlds and universes in vivid detail. It was perhaps inevitable, therefore, that I would at some point be obliged to create maps to go along with the stories I’ve written or am in the process of writing.
Specifically, before I try to move forward with Blood Magic, I think that I need to create a respectable map of the world, to be shared on the site, and for my own reference as I go about setting up stories. There are a few problems with that, however. For one things, I’m an engineer, not an artist. For another, I generally try to make my stories accurate in-world, but a default “fantasy style” map is more of a reader tool than it is character tool.
Pretty much since Christopher Tolkien drew overview maps of Middle Earth for The Lord of the Rings, fantasy maps have had a certain style to them, and it’s not a style that makes sense in the context of the fantasy world in question. Like writing an entire book about an imaginary world totally unlike Earth that somehow involves everyone speaking an Earth language, using Earth lettering systems, this style of map is more a reference for the reader/writer. It helps to contextualize where things are happening.
I have a certain obsession with realism in my writing, which is part of why my science fiction writing tends to be so slow, and even my fantasy writing is quite detailed in that respect. Most of my worlds use custom-derived units of measurement, for instance. Ideally, I would like to make the map (or maps) for Blood Magic make sense both to the reader, and in the context of the world. This is a difficult proposition for a society that has yet to cross the ocean.
To solve this problem, I will likely end up creating several maps. Since the stories in this series will be released episodically, I have an advantage: I can release updated maps as the knowledge of the characters increases, or create more detailed maps of specific regions when my characters will be journeying there.
For now, I’ve started a draft of an overview map, but I’m not a cartographer. I’m hoping to pass off my ineptitude as being suitably “in-world” for a civilization that perhaps lacks advanced map-making capabilities.