Tag Archives: Voyagers

Star Map: Terra Sector, WIP#1

Hope you like this sneak preview…

Yes. This is a zoomed area of my Star Map. Basically, on the original map I had these little 2x2cm squares. Well, this is a 20x20cm version of the one square that has Earth in it. One millimeter = one light-year. It’s designed to fit on an A4 page. For comparison, this is roughly equivalent to 2×2 Traveller sectors.

The blotches are placeholders for Nebulae, I intend to hand-paint them.

I’ll never map out my entire setting in this level of detail; I doubt I’ll live long enough. 🙂

Star Map – Final Version – And a Look Back

So, I’m finally done. I created my own star map, covering Human Space as I will describe it in my science fiction series.

Final Star Map: Overview
Final Star Map: Overview

This image was scaled down considerably; the original is at 200dpi – 6622×4677 pixel. It’s 72MB in size as a PNG file. Here are some 800x800px crops from the main map:

Star Map: Region around Terra
Star Map: Region around Terra
Star Map: The Sword Worlds
Star Map: The Sword Worlds
Star Map: Empire
Star Map: Empire
Star Map: Federation-Imperial Border
Star Map: Federation-Imperial Border
Star Map: Seals
Star Map: Seals

I’ve worked on this map on and off for three years, taking some detours in between. In the end I learned a whole lot, and I think i can honestly say, improved as a mapmaker and graphics person. I will never compete with the true professionals, but just consider these early versions of the map:

First Version: The Milky Way Galaxy. This was actually a trace of a NASA image, and I was really just experimenting.

How it all began: At first, I attempted to draw a basic Galaxy…

Second Version: Zooming In. An entire Galaxy is an awful lot of real estate. So I began to zoom in on the Region around Earth. It was still a very crude map.

Spiral Arms: Closing in on the Target
Spiral Arms: Closing in on the Target

Third Version: The Orion Spur. At this stage I began to nail down the setting. You see an early draft of the political situation in this image.

Orion Spur
Orion Spur: Early design of the interstellar nations

Fourth Version: Human Space, Revisited. As the old map wasn’t really working out, and was ugly to boot. I started a new version from scratch. It was based on a solid timeline and a detailed setting design. At this stage, the map was very basic.

Human Space: The Next Generation
Human Space: The Next Generation

Fifth Version: Let there be Color. The next two images are just later versions of the above; as you can see I added a great deal of detail over time. The second map probably has 200 named star systems – that’s a guesstimate, I did not recount them.

Human Space 2c
Human Space: With Colors
Huamn Space 2j
Human Space: Colorful and detailed

Sixth Version: Near Space Distraction. At one point, I began to doubt my design – and decided to go more small scale. I began to map out individual star systems near Earth based on Hipparcos data. In the end, I abandoned this approach – the setting wasn’t bad, but I felt it did not really match what I had in mind.

Near Stars
Near Stars: A New Attempt
Near Stars: Overwhelmed by Data
Near Stars: Overwhelmed by Data

The Near Star Map’s styletests, of which this was the last, showed me that I wanted a map that was not just functional. Working on the style tests taught me a lot.

Near Stars: Style Test v7
Near Stars: Style Test v7

Seventh Version: Back to Square One, Just Prettier. After I discarded the Near Space idea, I reset certain things, changed some assumptions, and experimented with a galactic map. This was the result.

A New Galaxy
A New Milky Way Galaxy
A New galaxy Closeup
A New Milky Way Galaxy Zoomed In

Eight Version: Full Circle. I liked the techniques I was starting to develop, but as in the very beginning, decided that an entire galaxy was just too much space. I zoomed in and concentrated on the Orion Spur. The rest, as they say, is Galactic history. Here is an early version of the map that I completed this week:

Orion Spur, Again
The Orion Spur, Again

And the future?

This map is done – but that doesn’t mean I won’t work on it. The settings needs to be built, detailed maps for at least some regions need to be produced, and of course the entire thing will continue to evolve. In another three years this map will probably not look the same.

Update: Welcome, Reddit users – thanks for the compliments, you have no idea how happy it makes me that someone enjoys my work!

Earth in 2174: Membership in the Federated Nations

Members of the Federated Nations, the successor organization of the United Nations:

Members of the Federated Nations, 2174
Members of the Federated Nations, 2174

This map should be considered as a “draft” – I may still change the status of a few nations. Either way, some notes may be in order:

  • The FN was organized by only a handful of nations, but a far greater number signed the charter when the FN was founded. The Second American Republic was a key force behind the FN treaty.
  • Texas was a founding member along with the entirety of the United States, but the membership treaty failed ratification. This was a major embarrassment for the Americans. Texas was admitted seven years later, after pro-FN politicians ran a successful campaign decrying Texan loss of influence on world politics.
  • The Andean Community withdrew from the FN in protest when the FN failed to force Venezuela to withdraw from annexed Colombian territory.
  • Morocco was expelled after severe human rights violations came to light.
  • Iraq withdrew on influence from the Islamic Union.
  • The Islamic Union, and most of the countries in its influence, never joined the Federated Nations. This also implies that the FN was founded after the Islamic Union – a key point I will probably change.
  • The Chinese Empire blocked membership of Xinjiang.

FTL Drive: Questions Answered

Good morning and welcome to Global News.

With the return of our first interstellar FTL probes to the Sol System, and the discovery of several worlds suitable to colonization, Space Fever is gripping Earth. According to statistics, the volunteer rate for off-planet emigration has jumped by some 17,000 percent. Seven-teen-thousand. This number alone proves that the public now firmly sees the future of the human race among the stars.

With me is Mr. John Jones of the Colonial Authority, and we will be discussing some questions our viewers have been asking us lately. Mr. Jones, thank you for joining us.

Jones: It’s my pleasure.

Host: Mr Jones, can you give us a quick rundown of what projects we can expect as our next steps into space?

Jones: Certainly. As you know, we are about to launch our first manned expedition to Alpha Centauri in August. The ship was just christened three days ago. The Columbia was named after command module of the Apollo 11 mission – the first spaceship to carry humans that would land on another celestial body.

Host: Some say that this name is unfairly nationalistic considering the mission is clearly an international effort, and run by the Colonial Authority.

Jones: The name for the ship was chosen exclusively for historic significance, but Columbia is not just the personification of the United States, it stands for all of the Americas. However, let me add a personal remark. The United States carried 40% of the Authority’s budget until recently, and funded the Hyperdrive project almost exclusively until we worked out a first prototype. Without this money, we probably would not have a hyperdrive now. I think that is something to be thankful for, and thus playing politics with the naming of a spaceship should really not be our concern as we look into that bright future ahead of us.

Host: Indeed, indeed. The hyperdrive is based on whole new physics and allows us to travel faster than the speed of light, something most people didn’t think was actually possible. In layman’s terms, could you give us an overview of how that works?

Jones: It’s actually based on theories we had for over two hundred years. Back in the late 20th Century, physicists working in Cosmology came up with something called String Theory. To work, they needed to assume that there were 10 dimensions; nine spatial plus time. Eventually, they discovered that an 11th dimension was needed to make the theory work. This became known as Edward Witten’s M-Theory. What is most relevant for our purposes is that it assumes an 11-dimensions multiverse.

It is impossible for us to ever travel to any of those other universes that we know exist. They have radically different laws of nature, and even if we could travel there we’d instantly cease to exist. But what we can do, and use the hyperdrive for, is to slip in between those universes – basically travel through the structure of the multiverse itself in a bubble of spacetime with our own physical laws.

Host: So instead of going to an alternate universe, we stop half-way there?

Jones: Precisely. We do not actually travel faster than light. We cheat – we take a shortcut. And there’s another thing: Accelerating a mass to the speed of light takes a large amount of energy. Because we cheat, we get away expending much less energy – and no reaction mass at all. This is probably even more significant than breaking the light barrier. It also enables us to efficiently travel inside a system, within certain limits.

Host: What limits are those?

Jones: You can’t get too close to a gravity well within Hyperspace. Roughly, gravity leaks out of our universe and into the multiverse – it’s the reason gravity is so weak, much of its energy gets “lost” outside our universe. If your ship smashes into a gravity well of sufficient strength, it gets ripped apart. So you still have to travel conventionally to approach a planet, but you get to avoid the months and months of travel in between.

Host: How fast and far can a ship travel with Hyperdrive propulsion?

Jones: Speed depends on local gravity, so it’s slower in a system than interstellar space. Currently, state-of-the art technology logs thirty days to the light year – twelve times light speed. So a trip to Alpha Centauri takes over four months.

Host: Long trip.

Jones: Long trip, but that used to get us to Mars. And it took Columbus a month to get to the New World. Even so, the technology will mature. Current predictions say that 100 times light speed is feasible. That would cut that same trip down to three weeks. And that’s probably not the end to it. The real limit seems to be distance.

Host: Distance?

Jones: Distance. This is one aspect of hyperdrive technology we do not understand, but experiments have showed that there is a hard limit of 7.7 light years that a ship can travel in hyperspace. A charge builds up on the drive coils, and at 7.7 light years it begins to break down the coils into subatomic particles – you can imagine that this unleashes enough energy to rip the ship apart. Unfortunately, we can’t get rid of that charge except in a gravity well. We really do not understand why this happens, it’s a property of Hyperspace the theories do not predict. So you see how young that field really is.

Host: Surely we can work that out eventually.

Jones: Naturally, we always do. In the meantime it means a ship can only travel to another star system if it’s within 7.7 light years of the ship’s current position, because it needs a gravity well at the destination. Until we find a solution to that problem this organizes space into “lanes” or “arms”, and it means some systems will be cut off forever for us.

Host: So how far can we go?

Jones: We do not have very reliable star data for great distances. We can definitely get out of a 100 light year radius at several points, so it’s likely we’ll be able to access most of the Milky Way, even if we can’t visit all systems. A trip outside that 100 light years sphere is going to take decades at current travel speeds, so we have a lot of time to improve our drive technology and hyperdrive theory.

Host: Thank you Mr Jones. We will take a break here and return later, when we continue our interview with John Jones of the Colonial Authority to talk about the near future of interstellar colonialism and about the renewed interest in SETI.

Earth in 2174: Active Conflicts

Here’s a bonus map for Earth in the year 2174; Active conflicts.

Earth, 2174: Active ConflictsChina: The Vietnamese are opposing annexations, though the conflict has lost some of its severity. Xinjiang is resisting re-integration into the Chinese Empire; it’s the last hold-out from the Chinese civil war that ended the PRC.

Pakistan: After nearly a Century of peace, the Islamic Union has begun stirring up trouble in the rural areas, inciting tribal leaders to start a rebellion against central rule. Pakistan enjoys the full support of its closest ally, India, and observers expect this rebellion to be beaten down quickly.

Middle East: The Islamic Union is attempting to drive back the Russians, who still occupy part of Iran. It’s a long, drawn out conflict of asymetric warfare – the Russians view it more as a police action against terrorists than as a real war.

Africa: The Islamic Union continues its expansion slowly, but surely. Other African countries are coordinating their defenses and are in talks of settling the IU problem for good. The Andean Community, the EU, and the Chinese Empire are attempting to prevent an all-out African war.

South America: Bolivia and Chile are suffer from an unending series of border incidents; resentment still run deep on the Chilean side over the annexation of the corridor to the Pacific by Bolivia. Defense commitments by the other Andean Community partners discourage a Chilean attack, but it is an open secret that Chile is trying to rally other South American nations for an alliance against Bolivia.

Meanwhile, Colombia is attempting to negotiate a release of occupied territories that Colombia had to cede to Venezuela. Armed, pro-Colombia resistance, has committed a number of atrocities and hardened the Venezuelan stance, however, and no peaceful agreement seems possible.

Earth, 2174 – Final

The final version of the Earth 2174 map:

Earth 2174 - Final
Earth 2174 - Final

Took me way too long, and I still feel that especially the southern half of Africa needs some border changes – but it’ll do for now. Now I know what big nations exist in 2174, and that means I can proceed with what I am really after: Exploring other solar systems!