Worldbuilding Continues

Earlier today, or should I say last night, I posted the fourth part of my worldbuilding series of posts.  It was a big one.  But it’s well worth the read if you’re interested in creating your own world for fantasy or science fiction.

I’d like to direct your attention to the menu at the top of the page.  Where it says Writing, there are menu options under that heading, and one of them is Worldbuilding.  That’ll take you to the main Worldbuilding page where I’ll be keeping a list of all the posts related to creating a fictional world.  So far, it’s been pretty scientific, but the human side of things will be coming soon.

Please check it out and read them through.

World-Building: Climate and Weather

Having a map of your world is great.  But now you need to know what the climate and weather are like.  Is it a hot world, a cold world, or is it just like the Earth?  You have a lot of choices.  This can be fun to do, but it can also be a lot of work, depending on how detailed you want to be.

Making a Climate Map

So, you have your map ready, all of the shorelines, rivers, lakes, and mountains drawn.  What do you do next?  Well, you need to know what kind of climate each area has.  You can do it simply, if you like.  If we look at a simple method, let’s assume that the world is similar to Earth.  At the equator, you’ll have tropical rainforest.  Moving north and south, you’ll then have savanna, then desert or semi-arid environments.  North and south of that, you’ll get into a more Mediterranean type climate, which is dry, mostly grassland, but temperate.  Then you get the temperate forests.  Moving even farther from the equator, you find boreal forests, tundra, and finally ice caps.  This is a very simplistic look at it.  It’s much more complex.

Let’s take a look at the Koppen climate classification system, which can be very useful when determining your world’s climate zones.  I’ll look at the zones briefly, but you can check out the Wikipedia page for more detailed information.  There are five climate groups.  Each group has more specialised climates.

First are the tropical/megathermal climates.  These are wet climates. The main types here are tropical rainforest (rainy all year, no seasonal variation), tropical monsoon (seasonal wind changes resulting in rainy and dry months), savanna (this has a very dry season).

Next we have the dry climates. There are two main types here, the desert climate (the driest) and the steppe climate (not as dry, but still semi-arid).

Third, we have temperate/mesothermal climates.  These climates generally have warm to hot summers and cool to mild winters.  The main types are dry-summer subtropical or mediterranean climate (hot and dry summers and rainy winters, western coast), humid subtropical climate (hot and humid, rainy summers and dry winters, eastern coast), maritime temperate or oceanic climate (changeable weather with lots of clouds and wet weather, cool summers and mild winters, western coast), temperate highland tropical climate (dry winters and rainy summers, located at higher altitudes), maritime subarctic or subpolar oceanic climate (confined to coastal strips or islands, generally colder than maritime temperate/oceanic), dry-summer maritime subalpine climate (very rare zone, highland areas near the coast where the ocean prevents the winter from dropping below -3 degrees Celsius).

Fourth, we have continental/microthermal climates. Basically, summers are warmer, winters are very cold.  For this, we have hot summer continental climate (hot summers, sometimes dry, sometimes wet), warm summer continental or hemiboreal climate (very simply, summers are warm, winters are cold), continental subarctic or boreal climate (pretty far north, mild summers, very cold winters), and continental subarctic with extremely cold winters (-38 degrees or colder in winter, only in Siberia).

Finally, we have polar and alpine climates.  These occur at the poles or high up in mountains.  The two types are tundra climates (warmest month is between 0 and 10 degrees Celsius) and ice cap climates (all twelve months are below 0 degrees Celsius).

Kamakura, Japan. This is in the humid subtropical climate zone. Hot and humid summers with monsoon season and mild, dry winters.
Kamakura, Japan. This is in the humid subtropical climate zone. Hot and humid summers with monsoon season and mild, dry winters.

Of course, you don’t have to be this detailed, but this is a good guide for how to determine your world’s climate zones.

But what if your world isn’t like Earth?  Let’s look at three types of worlds briefly.

First is the dry world.  Most likely, you’ll use arid and semi-arid climates.  However, you may have pockets of wetter climate zones around bodies of water.  The closer you get to the poles, the climate may change from desert to tundra gradually.  And then you may also have to have a more temperate desert in between.  This requires you to create new types of climates.

Second is the wet world.  Your world may be covered by rainforests.  If you have large continents with mountains, I’d probably expect there’d be some dry areas, but not too extensive.  The farther you get from the equator, your world may go from tropical rainforest to savanna to temperate rainforest to boreal forest.  You might not even have to deal with subarctic or polar climates.

Finally is the oddball of the bunch.  A tidally locked planet with a red dwarf star.  I’ve discussed this before in the second part of the worldbuilding series.  The side that faces the star is incredibly hot and uninhabitable.  The side that faces away from the star is incredibly cold and is likely a permanent ice cap.  The habitable area is along the terminator.  This is where we have some trouble determining what the climate may be like.  It’s probably quite windy, as winds would be howling from the hot side to the cold side of the planet.  But let’s say it’s not so bad.  Basically, you’d go from desert to tropical to temperate to subarctic and to polar in a very short distance.  It’s very unlikely there’ll be any great oceans to moderate temperatures, so it’ll be mostly continental.  However, no day/night extremes, no seasonal extremes, just the same every day.  Mountains would likely get plenty of rain.

There are other factors to consider, as well.  One is the axial tilt of your world.  More extreme tilts would make more extreme seasons.  No tilt would mean no seasons.

What I did

After I drew my world map, I traced it out onto another sheet of paper and started colouring in the climate zones as best as I could.  This was long before Wikipedia existed, and I didn’t think to even search the Internet for climate zones, let alone Koppen climate classification.  So, I just did the best I could.  I made this map:

20140926-182944-66584034.jpg

Pretty crude look, isn’t it?  I have desert in yellow, tundra (and ice cap) in white, tropical forest in emerald green, temperate forest in a darker green, grassland in pink, marsh/wetlands in orange, and mountains in brown.  This has more to do with vegetation, but it basically is a climate map with the exception of marsh (that’s a habitat, not a climate).  What you’ll notice is the vast tropical forests, large grasslands and rather limited amount of desert.  You see, Ariadne is in a humid period, though it does have polar caps.

Even though I have created that map, I’d like to redo it with the Koppen climate classification system in mind.  It would be more scientifically accurate, and not a simplistic as this.

So, what should you do about climate on your world?  It’s up to you.  Make it as complex as you want, or keep it simple.  I love complexity, as you probably already know.  Enjoy mapmaking!

For more posts on worldbuilding, please check out this page.

Deadly Eruption at Mount Ontake

Mt. Ontake.  Looks beautiful, doesn't it?
Mt. Ontake. Looks beautiful, doesn’t it?

Such a tranquil-looking mountain isn’t it?  Well, Mt. Ontake is Japan’s second tallest volcano, and it erupted on Saturday.  There were around 300 people on the mountain at the time, and 31 are suspected to be dead, as there were many at the summit around the caldera during the eruption.

I live around 190 km from the mountain (Tokyo is 200 km from it), which is on the border of Nagano and Gifu prefectures.  At 3,067 metres tall, it’s a fairly tall stratovolcano with a somewhat frequent history of eruptions.  It’s interesting that it’s often climbed considering how often it does erupt.

Another volcano, at 3,776 metres, is Mt. Fuji.  It’s visible from my area, and is the tallest mountain in Japan.  It occasionally has earthquakes around it, and in recent years, the lakes around it have been getting a bit warmer.  There are worries about an eruption from Mt. Fuji, which is quite possible in the coming years.  It’s probably inevitable.  The last time it erupted was in 1708, and it dumped a lot of ash on Edo (modern name is Tokyo), causing many fires.  If it erupts today, the entire region will be shut down.  Planes can’t get in, trains are stopped, all transportation will stop.  No supplies, no food, no fuel, and the water system may be contaminated.  Sounds pretty bleak.  It would devastate Japan’s economy, as it would almost completely shut down Tokyo.

So, what were the effects of Mt. Ontake on the Tokyo area?  Nothing, really.  So, everyone, I’m fine.  Don’t worry.

Appreciating Your Country’s Nature

I was looking around on YouTube earlier, and I found a video that showcases Canada’s nature very well.  Please ignore the cheesy music.

Canada is huge.  There are so many places to see, such a large variety of landscapes, I don’t think I’ll ever see it all.  I’d love the freedom to just explore.  But that’s rare.  I’ll be rooted in one place and occasionally see these places.

Here in Japan, I get to see a variety of landscapes, as well.  But it’s mostly urban in this area.  I can see mountains, sometimes Mt. Fuji, the ocean, some farmland, rivers, and lots of hills and valleys.  What I don’t get to see is really big mountains, flat plains, badlands, massive river valleys, huge fields of crops, and vast forests.  Japan does have some of those, but they’re just not near where I live.  I can see the biggest mountain in Japan, and it is impressive.  But there’s bigger in Canada.  There are flat plains to the north of Tokyo, but I don’t go there often.  No badlands at all.  The massive river valleys don’t exist like they do in Canada, unless you mean valleys in the mountains.  Huge fields of crops don’t really exist except in Hokkaido.  Mostly rice around here, and those are small fields.  There are vast forests in Japan, but they have a very different feel than the ones in Canada.  Japan is a humid country with lots of rainforests, while Canada has the boreal and temperate forests like what I got to grow up around.

The smells are different, too.  I think I miss the smell of a temperate mixed deciduous and coniferous forest in the fall.  Nice smell.

So, what landscapes do you like to see in your country?

Flash Fiction #6 – Maid in Black (Flash! Friday)

I’ve entered Flash! Friday again! This time it’s Volume 2, #42.  I found this one intriguing because the photo is from Japan, and the story must include a death.  Well, this one became dark, but I’m pleased with it.

Also, I just wanted to note that I’m no longer doing Daily Flash Fiction, just calling it Flash Fiction.  Anyway, on to the story:

What’s the point? They just want to touch me. They don’t see me as a person.

Eri gazed out at the swollen Tama River. The rain fell around her as she struggled to hold on to her parasol.

What am I doing with this? Stupid. It’s not made for a typhoon.

The creepy looks of the middle-aged businessman as she handed him his order gave her chills. On the omelette, she wrote, “For my darling master.”

This is no way to live. I’m twenty-one years old. I’m still playing maid in Akihabara. I’m sick of this. No one cares.

She stepped to the edge of the riverbank. The wind tore the parasol from her hands and she shielded her eyes from the stinging rain.

He shouldn’t have looked at me like that. He is not my master. Never again.

She looked down to the water. The hand slipped from the rock and under the rapids.

Never.

Comments?  Leave them in the comments section, please.

What Will You Write? #7 Second Extension

That’s right.  What Will You Write? #7 is being extended for another week again.  I’m trying to figure out if there’s a pattern.  Maybe some prompts are too difficult?  Just so you know, it doesn’t have to be a long story.  1000 words is the maximum.  You can make it as little as 100 if you like.  This should help anyone who wants to attempt the challenge.

Anyway, the challenge is extended until October 3rd, 3 pm GMT.

Banned Books Week – No Censorship for Me

This week is Banned Books Week.  It’s the week when you can support the freedom to read anything you like by reading books that have often been challenged for various reasons by parents, religious groups, and so on. They want to ban these books from bookstores, public libraries, and schools.  I’ve read quite a few banned books, considering that the entire fantasy genre is quite blasphemous according to many religious groups.  The book I’m reading now has most definitely been challenged for many reasons, including violence, adult themes (nudity, sex), religious reasons (polytheistic religions, magic, something that could be considered Satanic), and offensive language.  George R. R. Martin sure can piss off many people.

So, for this post, I’m not censoring myself at all.  Expect some language, but nothing sexual.  And I’ll be very blunt about what I think about the people who want to ban these books.

Let’s look at the reasons why people want to ban books.

Sexually explicit. This is pretty obvious.  I can understand it not being allowed in schools, considering it’s not age appropriate.  Little kids can be spared this kind of thing.  But libraries and bookstores?  No damn way.  To be honest, I’ve known quite a bit about sex since I was pretty young.  You can thank the Encyclopedia!  Ooh, let’s ban the Encyclopedia now.  Go into a school library and find an Encyclopedia.  I bet it has entries on sex, reproductive organs, and so on.  Oh, and for those prude people, sex isn’t offensive.  It’s natural.  It’s a fact of life.  I won’t shield my kids from what sex is.  I’ll be honest if they ask, and I won’t try to hide the truth.

Offensive language. Fuck that shit, you assholes.  There are classic books with swear words, you know.  They’re read in school. I’ve read books with swearing in school.  No one cared.  Really.  We didn’t giggle.  You know why?  Kids learn swear words from an early age.  They hear it from their parents, they hear it outside, they hear it from friends, TV, movies.  It’s everywhere.  They understand what it means, they understand they’re not good words to use in polite company.  Honestly, I don’t care.  What’s important is that parents try limit their swearing around their kids.  Parents are the most important role models, and kids will emulate their parents.

Violence. This is very common for action oriented books.  But I’d say violence in TV and movies is more influential because kids can see it.  In books, it can be described explicitly, but it’s often difficult to imagine it clearly.  Anyway, just as in TV, movies, and video games, this must be made clear to kids that the violence isn’t real and should not be reproduced.  Again, it’s parental responsibility.

Unsuited for age group. Yes, I can see this one easily.  An elementary school kid won’t read Fifty Shades of Grey.  It’s up to the school to put age appropriate books in the school library.  But in a public library and bookstore, it’s the parents’ responsibility to keep their kids away from more adult books.  It also depends on the maturity of the kid.  I was pretty mature for my age, so a lot of more adult books, TV shows, and movies didn’t affect me as much as many of my peers.

Nudity. I’m pretty liberal-minded, open, and a free-thinker.  Nudity shouldn’t be an issue.  It’s religious groups and the media that sexualise nudity.  Nudity isn’t sexual.  Nudity is the default for the human body.  Animals are naked.  They aren’t aroused because they see other naked animals.  A lot of tribes in the Amazon or in Africa have no problems with nudity.  Naturist groups don’t view nudity as sexual.  That’s because it isn’t sexual.  Nudity doesn’t corrupt youth.  I think if kids could see just how the human body is more often, there’d be fewer problems with rape, body image, and self-esteem.

Drugs/alcohol/smoking. I’m against drugs and smoking, but they’re a reality.  Alcohol is fine in moderation. There are some ways to show how they can be bad in literature by showing the effects.  Isn’t that a positive way to use them?  But I think that books aren’t likely to influence people to takes drugs or start smoking.  It’s far more likely that other people will influence.  Books aren’t the problem here, it’s the people.

Racism. I’d like to mention one book here that I read in school, To Kill a Mockingbird. This was a book about racism.  Let’s ban this one?  I don’t think so.  It was against racism.  It was also required reading in school.  I wasn’t very impressed with it back then, but that’s because we had to read it.  If I’d chosen to read it, I think I’d have enjoyed it more. Anyway, since racism is still a big issue, it’s important to bring up the subject.  Books are a great way to show the negative effects of racism.

Homosexuality. Another hot topic.  This is mostly a problem to religious groups.  And I have this to say: get over it.  Homosexuality has been around for as long as humans have.  It exists in wild animals.  It is natural.  Yes, natural.  It’s not a choice, it’s not a decision.  I’m happy to see homosexuality in books.  It needs to be represented.  And shielding your children from it will do more harm than good.  They’ll become prejudiced against it.  Again, parents need to be responsible here.

Religious viewpoint. One religious group tries to ban books from libraries and bookstores because it offends them.  What about the other groups who aren’t offended?  Aren’t you imposing your beliefs on others?  I won’t tolerate that.  You keep your religion out of other people’s freedom to read books.  You don’t want your kids to read a book?  Then it’s your responsibility.  I don’t care what your religion is.  No religious group has a right to prevent others from reading books.  Go away.

And there you have it.  You may agree or disagree with me, but if you are one of the people who wants books banned, then you are part of the problem.  Don’t be a problem for others.  Respect other people’s right to read what they want.

Please leave your thoughts in the comments below.