Tag Archives: speculative fiction

Maps in Fantasy Novels

A lot of you are fantasy fans, I’m pretty sure. In most fantasy novels, there are maps. They could be world maps or regional maps, and even city maps sometimes. I enjoy looking at the maps a lot. I’ve also made my own maps for my world, Ariadne.

I have questions for you to answer in the comments section.

  1. Do you like maps in fantasy novels?
  2. How often do you look at the maps?
  3. What’s your favourite fantasy map?
  4. Do you think science fiction novels set on other planets should have maps?

My answers:

  1. Yes, I love them!
  2. Any time a place is mentioned, I like to look at the map and figure out where they are.
  3. Too many to tell, really. I like the maps used in Malazan, Lord of the Rings, Shannara, and A Song of Ice and Fire. But there are more!
  4. Absolutely. I really enjoy the maps in the Pern series, The Mars Trilogy, and Dune.

I look forward to your answers.

Difficulties of Worldbuilding

I love worldbuilding. I’ve created a world, Ariadne, that is an entire planet with many countries, cities, cultures, and of course a large variety of landscapes. But making an entire world isn’t easy.

For me, some things were difficult. I think everyone excels in a different aspect while worldbuilding. Some difficulties are:


It’s so easy to create a world that’s populated by people from a single culture. But is that realistic? Not at all, especially if you’re looking at an entire world. In fantasy, it’s extremely common to have several cultures. But it’s also easy to copy cultures from other books. To make a truly unique set of cultures is difficult.


If you’re not a linguist, you may have some difficulties with creating a rudimentary language. But it’s not always necessary to. A lot of fantasy novels use a “common language” or “standard tongue” or something like that, and it’s always written in English. That’s fine. But if you want to make a language, then you should probably try to set up some rules. That’s the difficult part.


You can’t have some cultures on a world without a history. It’s extremely important to create a history for all of the cultures. It often helps dictate cultural relations. But to create a history that goes back for hundreds or thousands of years is a lot of work. And that can be difficult.

What do you think is difficult about worldbuilding? Let me know in the comments below.

Tinkering and Geekery

Have you noticed anything different in the menu bar above? Probably not, because not much has changed. I tweaked the order of the items so it’s easier to view some of the nested menu options.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be making a few more minor changes to streamline things. But I’ll also be making another change. Not so much a change, but more like a focus. All of the topics you see here are related to science, knowledge, and speculative fiction. Sounds geeky, doesn’t it? Recently, my blog posts have been all over the place about many different subjects. I want a better focus. I’ll be doing a lot on various geeky topics, which isn’t really a change at all. The big thing is going to be Quick Facts, which I’ll try to make into a weekly series. Or maybe biweekly. It really depends. Also, I’d like to make my Worldbuilding series into a weekly feature.

These changes will help keep fans of science and fantasy/sci-fi worldbuilding coming back regularly. I’ll probably start them in the new year, though don’t be surprised if something happens before then.

What are you interested in seeing?

Is Investing Your Time in Novel Series Worth It?

Malazan – 17 novels and counting

Valdemar – 34 novels

The Riftwar Cycle – 30 novels

The Wheel of Time – 15 novels

Shannara – 29 novels with more to come

The Legend of Drizzt – 27 novels and more coming

Dragonriders of Pern – 26 novels

The Dresden Files – 15 books and more coming

I could keep going. These are all long novel series, mostly fantasy. What is it about series that keep us coming back for more? Are they worth reading all the way through?

In my opinion, absolutely yes. I’m currently only on the third book of The Wheel of Time, and I’m actually reading it fairly quickly. I’ve read most of Shannara that’s been written, other than the eight or nine most recently written ones. I have to catch up! I’ve read only four Drizzt novels and only the first two Malazan novels. Damn, I really need to catch up.

I love reading series. I love getting back into the worlds and meeting my old travel companions, or seeing new and familiar places. They feel like home.

Of course, there are some drawbacks. They take time, they may drop in quality, they may lose direction. The Wheel of Time becomes a bit of a drag in the middle of the series, I’ve heard, but the ending is supposed to be incredible. I look forward to reading all the way through.

I’m a bit of a completist (if that’s a word). I want to finish the series I’ve started. I’ve never actually finished a long series, but I have finished trilogies and other short series. I’m curious to see where they lead, and I can’t wait to dive into the next book of the series.

How do you feel about novel series? Let me know in the comments.

What’s Difficult About Worldbuilding?

As you may know, I’ve created my own world, Ariadne, for my novels in progress. It’s been a very long process to create it, and has involved many different aspects of science and social science. It’s actually quite fun to do it. However, it’s not all easy. I think the more difficult parts are keeping track of some of the complex things, such as history, country relationships, and evolving cultures and societies.

What do you think would be difficult for you? I’m going to be writing a lot of posts about worldbuilding in the future, and I’d like to know what you feel you would need most help in figuring out. Let me know in the comments below what you think is the most difficult aspect of worldbuilding for fantasy and science fiction.

Where Are All the Female Epic Fantasy Authors?

When you think of epic fantasy, what authors come to mind? Robert Jordan? George R. R. Martin? J. R. R. Tolkien? Men. It always seems to be male authors. So, where are the female epic fantasy authors?

Here’s a list of them on Reddit. Oh, C. J. Cherryh. C. S. Friedman’s a woman? I didn’t know that. I know Jacqueline Carey and Janny Wurts. There’s Lois McMaster Bujold. N. K. Jemisin is a newer one, and she’s African American, too! And there’s Robin Hobb. Did you know she’s a woman? There are some big names there, but the list is incredibly short.

On Leona Henry’s blog, I found that list, and her post inspired me to write this. It’s unfortunate that female fantasy authors seem to be stereotyped as YA authors or romance authors. It’s a shame that epic fantasy novels written by female authors have romance style covers when there is no romance in the novel.  Sounds like publishers are to blame with that.

I want to see more epic fantasy novels written by female authors. Although not really fantasy, one of my favourite authors is Anne McCaffrey, and she had some wonderful books based on the world of Pern. They are dragon-themed, but it is science fiction. I want more variety in the books I’ve been reading. It just seems I pick up books that look good based on the description and cover, and pass over the ones that look like they’re more romantic. I see the error in that now.

There’s another thing that I’ve been inspired to do. You see at the top of the page, a menu option called Reviews? I’m going to add another page that lists books by the author’s gender. As I tend to read mainly science fiction and fantasy, you’ll get to have a good list of female authors as I read their books. So, if that page isn’t there now, it will be shortly. I’ll get that done within the next hour, I think.

And I think I’m going to try get into using Reddit, especially the fantasy and science fiction sections.

So, I would like to ask you a question. Which female epic fantasy authors would you recommend? Let me know in the comments.

Gateway Novels

The first fantasy novel I read was The Hobbit. I loved it. The first science fiction novel I read was Jurassic Park, which I also really enjoyed.  I was already a sci-fi fan, though, having watched a lot of Star Trek and Transformers when I was a kid.

Those books got me interested, but I never really focused on reading novels much at that time. However, when I was in university, I started reading a couple of different series.  One was Anne McCaffrey’s Pern series and Terry Brooks’ Shannara series. Those are what really hooked me onto sci-fi and fantasy novels.

What books would you recommend as gateway novels into speculative fiction? Any suggestions for science fiction, fantasy, horror, dystopia, or post-apocalyptic novels? Let’s get a list going. Leave your suggestions in the comments, and invite your friends or anyone else to give their thoughts, too.

Vacations and Resorts in Fantasy

This is where I am now.






The pictures above are at Tsujido Seaside Park in Fujisawa, the city I live in in Japan. Lots of Palm trees, bright sun, hot weather, and a bicycle park.

In speculative fiction, especially science fiction, there are resorts and vacation spots. A lot of sci-fi has them. But what about fantasy? I’m trying hard to think of any fantasy that includes places like that.

Can you think of any?

Realism in Speculative Fiction

As a reader of speculative fiction, I get to discover what life is like in worlds that aren’t yet possible or can never be possible.  Science fiction and fantasy are two of the main genres of speculative fiction, and while they’re both looking at life that’s different than what we know, they are very different from each other.

When looking at realism in speculative fiction, you have to think about what is possible and what is impossible.  For what is possible, you’re likely looking at future technology and science that we haven’t quite figured out yet.  For what is impossible, you’d be looking at magic and wildly alien life that we can’t imagine would ever exist.

In science fiction, it’s easier to rely on realism, especially if you have a solid knowledge or background in science.  Or maybe you’re just really good at winging it.  But for people like me, realism in science fiction is quite important.  I feel like it could be real.  I want silence in a vacuum, I want accurately described motion in a spacecraft, I want well-described conditions on planets.  Books that screw around with the science and make it rather unrealistic turn me off.  I read a book that got artificial gravity generation all wrong with a spinning space station.  Unfortunately, the gravity was toward the centre of the station, rather than away from centre.  It was backwards.

In fantasy, realism is less of a concern, especially when magic is a major factor.  However, there are a lot fantasy novels that rely on realism, and in this case, it’s the realism of battle, tactics, politics, and human nature.  There are some great books out there that do this, and as a result, they tend to be quite gritty and dark.  This pulls me into the story so strongly, I feel like I am really there, can smell the air, feel the wind, and see the trees, sand, or sea.  I love that level of realism.

How do you feel about realism in speculative fiction?

Transportation in Speculative Fiction


Living in Japan, I get to experience a wonderful and efficient train system. Coming from a city that had only one train line (though more are coming), I felt like Japan was a futuristic country. I’m a huge proponent of public transportation, especially trains. So I often think, what will it be like in the future? And what was it like in the past? Speculative fiction addresses a lot of this.

In fantasy, most transportation is on foot, by horse, coach, or ship. Sometimes more advanced forms of transportation are used, like trains or even airships.

But what about in science fiction? Spaceships are the obvious answer. A lot of novels show spacecraft, but not so much about on planets. What do they use? Most likely environmentally friendly. In the air, I can imagine aircraft that fly above the atmosphere to travel long distances quickly. Scramjets are an example, and this technology exists today. How about land? Are there personal vehicles? How about things like trains or maglev systems? One thing I don’t see much of is travel by sea. Do they use boats? I can imagine hobbyists still using sails.

So what do you think would be used for transportation in 26th century Earth? And what have you seen in science fiction novels?