A Short Geography Lesson

I’m doing some planning and mapping while I detail out some parts for my upcoming third novel, The Prince’s Revenge, and part of that involves adding some areas to my map of the “galaxy”. I decided to share a terrible cell phone picture of the map and go over a couple points, just for fun. I used to work in Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and even though that was years ago, I’m still a map nerd.

A map of the Marcellian Universe (click to enlarge). Each grid cell represents 25 light-years.

So far, the majority of my work has taken place in the so-called Independent Regions. This is a large, lowly-populated area that’s all galactic “south” of the Norma Empire. Lots of tiny governments, single-star-system civilizations, and tons and tons of empty space. Plus Thad’s Headquarters asteroid.

If you’ve paid close attention, you’ve seen the Norma Empire mentioned multiple times in my work, but mostly as a background element that doesn’t seem too important. That will change as the series progresses. Basically, the Norma Empire is a huge confederation of Imperial States, each one led by a Duke who’s mostly an absolute monarch in his state but has pledged fealty to the Emperor at Norma in return for protection and stability and economic advantages. I mostly modeled it after the Holy Roman Empire, the medieval predecessor to Germany which, as the joke says, was neither Holy, Roman, nor an Empire. But the important fact is that Norma is the oldest, most highly-populated, most important, and most powerful civilization in my universe, and it occupies a huge chunk of the area of the “galaxy” civilized by mankind.

There are a few other star empires on the map. Some of them are unlabeled, just placeholders I’ll work on if I ever decide to visit that region of the “galaxy” in my works. Some are mentioned in the stories, and some are background details I worked up and haven’t used yet for whatever reason

I put galaxy in quotes because it’s kind of an overused term in science fiction, and it’s also not really that accurate in my work. Our Milky Way galaxy, in which my fiction takes place, is a disc-shaped region anywhere from 90,000 to 150,000 light-years in diameter depending on who you ask. But the region of civilizated space in my work (okay, I have no idea how I typo’d civilized into that, but I’m leaving it in because it made me laugh…) is at best less than 3,000 light-years wide, which means that mankind has visited very little of it. If the galaxy was the size of the Earth, then the characters and empires in my stories have barely left their house yet, and certainly haven’t crossed a street. And yet it’s still a huge volume of space that can take months to cross in hyperspace.

Well, that’s all for now. Just a minor geography lesson, for fun. (And before you start looking too closely, no, Earth is not marked on this map.)