So here’s the thing…


…I’m working on topics for my next few World Building Question installments. I’m to a subject I’ve wanted to tackle for a while: maps. I can’t be the only speculative fiction writer who has a giddy obsession with maps, largely out of the dream of one day seeing a map in a book I wrote. I’ve even made a few maps for the novel I’m writing with my wife, just to get a sense of the world we’re creating. I open up novels, see the maps at the beginning, and I’m immediately both jealous of the author and oddly proud.

I think this obsession goes back to the grandfather of all novel maps, the famous and still under copyright so I don’t have a picture of it on this post map of Middle Earth drawn for the Lord of the Rings trilogy. I don’t need a picture, you know the one I’m talking about. I don’t know my history of fictional cartography well enough to say that’s the first map that appeared in a speculative fiction novel. In fact, I’d be rather shocked if it was. But I think it’s the map we all think of when it comes to maps in books, and it’s the one we all want to have in ours one day.

Not that there aren’t problems with novel maps. As CVS leader Jen Brinn has said in the past, too many books have maps that feel like an itinerary list. If a feature appears on the map, it’s going to come up in the book. Like anything involving art for books, some maps are better than others. Oddly, unlike covers, it’s the maps that hew too closely to the book that are less fantastic. That map in the front of the book that lets the reader track the characters, but then shows some feature off in the corner that’s a mystery? Those are the real works of fantasy, as they inspire the mind.

Also…I just like maps. Old maps, especially, as they can say as much about the person who drew them and the society they were drawn for as they can anything about geography.

Of course, the problem with maps is they’re an inherently visual subject and this blog…well, look, I can embed pictures, I even do some times, but too many of them and posts start to get cluttered. And a few things I think work best animated. So while I’m working on my research, I’m also working on the best way to present the end products. Which might mean videos. Which might mean they take a damn long time, because I’d be teaching myself how to put videos online from scratch. So be patient. Something is on its way. At the very least I’m looking at the questions “Which Way Is Up?” and “What’s At The Center Of The World?” If they work, I might even go back and make video versions of some of the time series. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

I’m thinking about keeping it simple, creating PowerPoint presentations of my information, recording my narration, and exporting to video. I’ve found all these features in the program, so I know they exist. I’m also, secretly, looking to get some experience in simple video production as it’ll be a nice boost to the ole resume. So if anyone has any experience or advice they’d like to give, I’m all ears. Let me know in the comments…

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