Hey guys. I made a map to go with my comic. A SPACE MAP. This is the nerdiest thing I’ve done in a very long time. There was math involved! That’s how nerdy it was. Indulge me while I regale you with the details.
For the record, a lot of the initial world-building for A Mad Tea-Party was done over a decade ago, when I was still in my “I want to make comics so I’m going to spend all my time planning out stories but not writing or drawing them” phase. Basically, I had a lot more time for this kind of thing. Now that the book is done, I’ve dredged up all that ancient work and polished it up so it matches the actual story as it developed, and matches developments in astronomy since then.
The stars are all as accurately presented as possible. These are the actual stars in our immediate neighbourhood, although I’ve changed some of the names on the premise that by the time of the story, people will care enough about these stars to give them names without numbers in them. Also there are aliens. This is an Earth-centric map, so only the alien names that have replaced English names in common usage are included.
For the star map in the middle, I decided to tackle the problem of how to show a 3D map in a 2D environment using colour. Stars that are closer to the viewer are more blue, those that are farther away are more red.
The distance chart I had to figure out myself because the sources I had only described stars based on their position relative to Sol. I am not a math guy! Math is hard. I’m very proud of myself for remembering how to use the Pythagorean Theorem and figuring out how to adapt it for three dimensional space.
The “Calendi-Khazh Jump Gate System” is the main means of travel in regions where the Calendi hold sway. The Osmians have the ability to travel faster than light (or travel through hyperspace or something, I’m not sure), but the Calendi need to send a robotic ship at sub-light-speed that will build an artificial wormhole before they can travel to a star system. Which limits how far and fast they can go, obviously.
Star systems are mapped out diagrammatically. Super-Earths, super gas giants, brown dwarves, and dust belts are all real things, we just don’t happen to have any in the Solar System. I left out Pluto. Sorry. Dwarf planets would over-complicate my pretty map.
Since my original world-building efforts, science has marched forward, and a bunch of extra-solar planets have been found, including some in our neighbourhood. Some of the planets and other objects shown are really real- especially big planets close to stars (those are the easiest to find). Most of the planets I made up, of course. And even the planets that have been found, no one knows much about them apart from their size and locations. I did calculate and make sure I was putting my planets the right distance from their stars to get the temperature right.
You’ll notice some of the planets have some pretty crazy environments. There are a lot of alien species that you never actually see in the book, because they live on, like, freezing methane worlds or whatever. The book’s not really about aliens and space empires so much as the consequences on ordinary people of living in a world like this. The Vourasq are the army of alien robots that act as the main villains in the background of the story.
Eventually science will push the veil further back, we’ll gain an even better understanding of what’s actually orbiting around these stars, and my space map will be proven wrong. Oh well. These are the perils of writing science fiction. Next story I write I’m sticking to the Solar System, where the pace of discovery is a little more manageable right now.