Worlds are complicated

I’m ramping up for the next novel, which I’m figuring to start sometime in September. As part of the world building, I’ve been drawing out some maps.

This is one of my favorite parts of world building. I always loved the maps you found at the start of big, door-stopping fantasy novels, and I used to make up my own when I was a kid. Then I made a lot more as a gamer, drawing out dungeons, cities and continents. Writing gives me a new excuse for making fake atlases.

The thing is, I want those fake maps to be somewhat realistic. When I see desert and jungle and taiga all jumbled together on a map, it bugs me. More than giant fire breathing lizards. So when I lay out my maps, I try to make sure that the geography at least looks like it will work. Who wants an unbelievable fantasy world?

While laboring at this, trying to figure out prevailing winds and rain-shadows and such, I happened to read this article on boing boing. It’s about how the Amazon rain forest has pretty crappy soil, and for the jungle to exist there, it needs a constant influx of nutrient rich soil. Which it gets from Africa. Millions of tons of mineral rich dust from the Sahara are picked up every year by the wind and blown across the Atlantic. Enough of it lands in South America to fertilize the jungle and make the Amazon possible.

I have to say, that seems completely unrealistic.

Which means that whatever world I design will necessarily be completely wrong, because there is no way it will be complicated enough, or weird enough, to match reality.

1 Comment

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One response to “Worlds are complicated

  1. If someone put that in a book it’d seem too convenient.

    I like to steal parts of Earth geography, because I know that works, and more importantly only define a small area of the planet. Everything off the maps makes the weather work, that’s my claim.

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