I have a terrible confession to make. I don’t care for maps at the beginning of books. Maybe it’s because I’m no good at making them. I mean, where do you even start?
But it turns out that in some circumstances, maps are necessary for the author even if for no-one else, as I realized when I tried to plot out a book about people hiking through various alien biomes. I really really had to know where all the biomes were in relation to each other and the hikers’ goal.
So I cheated:
I knew I wanted to base this story loosely on the Lewis and Clark Expedition, specifically in their crossing of the Lolo Pass, so what better place to start than the Lolo Pass itself?
The result is something that seems to work hyrdo-geologically and fulfills all the plot points of my story. Once again:
X’s indicate known or presumed wormholes. As organisms transit wormholes from their home worlds, biomes spread out onto Junction, assisted by downhill grades, flow of rivers (east and south) and prevailing winds (from the northwest). Biome spread is hindered by contact with incompatible biomes.
Generations of humans have erected windbreaks, dug settling pools, and otherwise defended their home against alien incursions from the north and west, allowing the Earth Biome to extend to the southern tip of the valley.
Our heroes fly directly east from Imsame, the settlement around the Earth Wormhole, over two mountain ranges and the Continental Divide before their plane crashes, stranding them in the Glasslands (marked “Diatom” on the map above). Their hike back east includes six alien biomes, monster-fighting, explosions, mountain-climbing, hunting, being hunted, murder, sex, attempted murder, carbon monoxide poisoning, amateur ballooning, intrigue, espionage, eletro-shock therapy, and international exo-geopolitics in more-or-less that order. Try to guess where they fit on the map!
And for a special treat, a map of the real world!
The wormhole is more or less in the middle of the area of New Guinea occupied by the Mek peoples, right over the border into Indonesian West Papua.