« And you thought pigs couldn't fly. | Main | It's on »

Eric: Coming up on the start of 30 days of riding the fire!

It's All Hallow's Eve. To some, a sacred day. To others, the day before All Saint's Day. To yet more, an excuse to dress like a slut or extort adults for candy. To yet others, several of the above.

But to a few, bold, utterly foolish souls, it is the night before the start of National Novel Writing Month, or Nanowrimo. I've been preparing for weeks, abandoning several projects before settling on one. And now, I'm pretty well ready to go.

The project's name is Trigger Man, and it's pseudo-hard character driven SF, because that's what I want to write, in the end. It details one of the watershed events in an SF universe I've been poking at for about twelve years now. My hope is, my friends who like SF will like it, and my friends who hate SF will like it. My fear is the converse will be true.

It's dealing with a particularly bloody war between empires, and a horrific event that changes the balance of that war. Now, the plot is driven by strategic considerations, and for that to work, I need to actually know what those considerations are. So, I needed to actually outline a very basic starmap (not to scale, so Winchell Chung doesn't need to throttle me to death, just yet), detailing a good percentage of the worlds along the border of Concordia (the invading empire) and the Empire of Citadel (the defenders), along with the FTL routes (my FTL handwave requires specific points of travel, outlined by the various lines on the map) involved. For various reasons, Concordia's worlds are named after British Commonwealth cities and place names and the like. Citadel, on the other hand, has a lot more total worlds and more ways of naming planets after people than you could count.

So. I'm making up the map, so I have it to refer to, and I need a whole pile of planet names -- most of which may never even be mentioned in the book. One -- Aurora -- was already in my notes and has been referred to in my more ambitious novel project, Theftworld, which is one quarter done but on hold while I work on Trigger Man. Another, GS4771, has no reason to be named anything at all, as it has neither habitable planets nor (until now) any reason to go there. (Much of Trigger Man takes place in the GS4771 system.) And the rest....

I needed a pile of names for the rest.

As you can see if you click the map's thumbnail, I finally named them after Webcartoonists. Since most of these worlds won't be mentioned by name in the book, no one's likely to notice when I try to sell this thing. However, they're there, providing verisimilitude when I need to make references. I even have detailed notes on how far away each planet is from each other, and how long it takes to get there via the FTL handwave.

If you're a friend of mine and want to know why I didn't name it after you... well, when I did the (much larger and more elaborate) full starmap for the Hampshire Sector, needed for Theftworld and several short stories, I loaded it down with several friends' names. You're probably in there. If you're a webcartoonist and want to know why the Hell I didn't name a planet after you... hey, there were only so many. You can safely assume your world is to the "south" of this map.

For the record, purple worlds are Concordian and, as I said, named after semiBrit/Canadian/Irish/Welsh/Australian stuff. However, I did sneak in a "Campbell" and a "McCloud" and named one of the worlds "Tackleford," so that counts as an Allison reference. Pine green worlds are Citadelian. Red worlds are where the terrible fighting is going on right now. (Which means there's more of a chance those worlds will get mentioned in the actual book.) York is yellow because I have three books planned where it wins its Independence from Concordia, somewhere down the line. Oh, and some planets get the suffix '-suld' or '-wuld' or '-uld,' which is a contraction of "World" used by Citadelian mapmakers. So, Bleuelsuld means Bleuel's World, essentially. It's worth noting there's good music on Bleuelsuld.

(Why Crosby's Folly? Because I didn't like just 'Crosby,' and 'Crosbysuld' sounded silly. Think of it as a prospector's world or something. Look, there's only so much I'm putting into these explanations.)

Posted by Eric Burns-White at October 31, 2004 7:49 PM


Comment from: mckenzee posted at October 31, 2004 9:37 PM

Cool, I'm a star... er, planet.

Comment from: Eric Burns posted at October 31, 2004 10:40 PM

I should mention the word "weir" is used technically in the story, so there's neither a planet Weir nor a planet Grimm.

Comment from: Shaenon posted at October 31, 2004 10:46 PM


Comment from: dd42 posted at October 31, 2004 10:50 PM

You probably don't want to go into a long description of your backstory, but I have one question: where's Earth? or is this story set so far into the future that humans have expanded far from our solar system?

Comment from: Eric Burns posted at October 31, 2004 10:59 PM

Earth is very, very far away from here. We're close to the year 5300 AD, spreading out in 28 LY jumps for a long, long time.

Comment from: Wednesday posted at October 31, 2004 11:08 PM

But...but I'm not a proper webcartoonist yet.

Comment from: Eric Burns posted at October 31, 2004 11:22 PM

Yeah, but "Planet Wednesday" is a seriously cool name.

Though I have to admit Shaenon's right. Planet Kolchalka is just plain cool. That whole stretch, from Wednesday, Migdal, Campos, Abrahmsuld, Rosenberg, Guigar to Kolchalka was, until twenty or thirty years ago the galactic equivalent of the Pacific Northwest. Darn cool, good weather, good music scene -- kind of Indy Rock.

Now, of course, there's this war running rampant through it all. Damn Concordians.

(For the record, the Concordians want the Manley Reach, which is that route from Rosenberg to Aeire -- I don't show it on this map, but there's a T-point from Aeire to a stretch of uncolonized worlds. Concordia's boxed in as it is, no room to grow, so they want to control the route to increase their holdings (and therefore their potential wealth). There's a lot more Concordia "North" of this map, and thousands of Citadelian worlds in all the other directions.

Am I babbling? Probably. 38 minutes to NaNoWriMo.

Comment from: Maritza Campos posted at October 31, 2004 11:58 PM

Aaah, a planet named after me. That's sweeeet.

Good luck on nanowrimo.

What do the colors mean?

Comment from: sylvan posted at November 1, 2004 1:30 AM

I always knew if I kept drawing long enough, someone would name a planet after me.

Comment from: benlehman posted at November 1, 2004 3:56 AM

GS#### isn't named after the subscription website that carries Digger?



Comment from: rikchik posted at November 1, 2004 9:43 AM

What's the name of the planet between Dover and Victoria?

Comment from: Mark posted at November 1, 2004 10:48 AM

I don't mean to pick nits, but we here in the British Commonwealth call it "Toronto", not "Toranto". Best of luck with the project!

Comment from: Eric Burns posted at November 1, 2004 11:06 AM

The "unnamed" planet between Dover and Victoria is where the refugees from Planet Toronto go after rocks fall and everyone dies. ROCKS FALL! EVERYONE DIES!

(I'll correct those on the next version of the map. Which will have to come. I'm 2,200 words into this damn story, and I already need information on a series of worlds "south" of where the Map is. Which means yes, a bunch more Webcartoonist names. Like a doink I went into depth on the Concordian side, kept moderately sparse on the Citadelian side, and set the action and characters in the Citadel Navy.

Comment from: Eric Burns posted at November 1, 2004 11:07 AM

(Oh, if that sounded harsh -- understand I've gotten about nine e-mails pointing out I misspelled Toronto. And I was up late writing, so now I'm all cranky.)

Comment from: Eric Burns posted at November 1, 2004 11:13 AM

Maritza -- do you mean the colors of the worlds or the lines between them? Purple worlds are Concordian. Green worlds are Citadelian. Red worlds are currently disputed/being fought over (yes, sadly, Campos is currently "war torn"). The different color lines refer to the "stage" of "transition" needed for the FTL handwave to move people from one world to the next. (Higher stages are longer distances. For the record, not that it means anything to anyone, but the light green-yellow lines are first stage transitions, orange are second stage, and green are third stage. That one red line refers to a fifth stage transition -- you may intuit that 4th and 5th stage transitions haven't been possible until the events of this story. Nothing like a nice macguffin to drive a plot.)

Post a comment

Thanks for signing in, . Now you can comment. (sign out)

(If you haven't left a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Thanks for waiting.)

Remember me?