Tag Archives: maps

Vironevaeh: 19 years of love

Like so many of us sci-fi-ers, I grew up on science fiction television. I remember watching Star Trek Next Generation in a high chair, and later I watched Babylon 5 and Voyager. I feared the space under the bed because my brother told me it contained a black hole. I drew aliens, made up planets, and wrote in codes. Once a friend cut the bridge of my nose with a hardcover book during horseplay, and I was delighted to declare myself Bajoran.

In 5th grade, we had the city project; we had to invent a city, describe its economy, design a model of it, and write a small essay. It was my catalyst. I created a city called Vironevaeh, set on a distant planet, colonized by humans from Earth in the distant future. My languages, my maps, my characters, my aliens now had a focal point.

That was 19 years ago. Once a year, I like to look back and celebrate all the fun I’ve had since. Dreaming about world building made me look at our own world in odd ways.

For now, Vironevaeh is just my little place. Maybe someday it will be something different, but more than anything, I love the journey.

Trips down memory lane

Below are a pair of landscapes, one from years ago and one from last year. My longing to depict Vironevaeh forced me to draw for a purpose. The pencil drawings was one of my first landscapes ever. The poster was an homage, and and another experiment in new territory: art nouveau and posters.

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Maps

Maps are a simple staple of scifi and fantasy, but drawing maps made me ask a lot of questions. What kinds of geology could happen on a planet that could still sustain humanoid life? Or non-humanoid? Where should lakes, mountains, deserts, and oceans be in a realistic environment? What kinds of names would places have? What names would be linguistically compatible? What kind of linguistic range could I expect on a planet–how much would it vary in a place with a global culture versus one with regional cultures? What kind of stories would I tell about the people on such planets based on the map, and for the people whose stories I had already imagined, what kinds of maps would that require? Maps seem dry and factual on the surface, but I found myself asking a million such second-level questions. I love maps.

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Storytelling

Vironevaeh filled me with stories, but I struggled to express them as I felt them. I have written my stories so many ways. Nowhere is that more rapidly evident than in my portraits. Below are four portraits of a character over six or so years. I had to learn to get the details right and be honest with myself where it wasn’t right. As ever, it’s a work in progress.

Places for the people

Maps and people weren’t the end, I wanted to know how the streets looked. That’s really hard! There’s architecture and materials, and then there’s imagining the landscape and how such things would fit in. I studied pictures of streets from around the world. I find this aspect the most challenging, but maybe also the most rewarding.

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Stories of a new world

As I told stories about a new world, I wondered about their stories. And when I told them, I found that they fit everywhere. How many references to the garden of Gethsemane exist in western literature? A new place would have new Gethsemanes. Below are two images from mythology about a mouse, and new people finding that mouse in new constellations.

It’s never the end. Next year I’ll have new thoughts to share. Every year I am a new person, and Vironevaeh is a new place.

The Joy of Maps

I love maps. Not the ones that are useful, really. The decorative ones, or the ones that accompany a novel. The useful ones have a sort of dryness to them. I was never a big Tolkien fan, but I liked his maps a lot. Vernor Vinge’s “A Fire Upon the Deep” has a map of the galaxy, and I found that added to my enjoyment. I like historical maps too; you get an insight into past culture that comes much more slowly from print. Old maps sometimes have amazingly different spellings and different borders (Capp Codd instead of Cape Cod, for example, on an old american map). Old city maps reveal the old structures that gave rise to the city of today. A few years ago, the university museum had an exhibition of old maps. A lot of these maps remain available online as well.

In school, I used to dream up exotic places and cultures. I’d sit at my desk and draw up a new world. I’d imagine the cultures of the various regions. How the geography might influence the overall culture. Of course how the various different planets would interact.

In many ways, Vironevaeh, the universe I’ve played in since I was 10, began because of a map. In 5th grade, we were required to invent a city and imagine what kind of climate, government, and culture it might have. Part of the assignment was to build a diorama of the city. I did a poor job on it (long-term projects weren’t a skill of mine at that time), but the seed had been planted. With the map, I had a connection to the place. Over the odd years of middle school I invented an alphabet, a planet, and several dozen playmate planets. Almost 16 years later, long after the death of that diorama, Vironevaeh lives on. The map of Naenaiaeh, below, is about 10 years old. I’ve been slowly making other maps over the years.

(Side note: I’m not sure if anyone checks this blog on its schedule; you may have noticed my schedule was awry last week. I try to post Monday-Wednesday-Friday. I missed a couple of posts last week due to three days of power outage (brr). But I had a lot of time sitting in front of a fire to dream and imagine new ones!)

map naenaiaeh

The sister planet to Vironevaeh. On Naenaiaeh, the people missed earth, and thus re-used the old names from home.

map silveriaeh

Silveriaeh, a planet of almost no water (I did so like the -aeh ending). Dark brown lines indicate fault lines, blue indicate rivers.

map Menekenesthete