View Full Version : Greetings!

01-16-2013, 12:23 PM
It's good to be here! I've made use of some of the resources on this site before but never registered and contributed anything myself. I teach geography in India after completing my studies in geology. I've a lot of experience in map making though it is scientific mapping mostly so very different in style to these sorts of maps! I am also a freelance journalist and write for a variety of publications in the UK and India amongst other countries when the opportunity arises. At present nothing high profile but I'm working on it!

I've tried my hand at writing fantasy and science fiction novels...I say that in the plural, I've written two of which both are rubbish but I learnt a lot in the experience of writing them so hope to improve in the future. There are a several more ideas in the pipeline!

One thing that perpetually irritates me about many fantasy/sci fi maps I see in books is that there is often little thought put into the science behind them. I am quite obsessive about this, it has to be said, but I like to see authors justify odd landforms and what have you somehow. Having studied geology I've got a good knowledge of how real life systems work. My sister is currently a physics/astrophysics student and I have asked her many questions about extraterrestrial systems too!

I've been working on a novel and accompanying map for nearly three years now (time is something I lack) which is called Valmiera (which is similar to the name of a village in Latvia I liked the sound of - the milieu is Slavic in feel). I am currently returning from a trekking holiday in Nepal which has been fantastic because the world is a mountainous place very much based on the Himalaya so I've got a much better feel for the geography now and feel a resurgence of creativity and thus joined!

Hope to speak with you and share ideas,


01-16-2013, 01:59 PM
Welcome to the guild. Certainly we are a little short of people qualified in geology and geography and would welcome any comments and criticisms of maps which show aberrant behavior. It is true that most of the maps here are fantasy and maybe do not need to follow the exact physics of earth / science I think most people would like almost all of their map to follow real terrain geography and physics and only have the odd part where magic may play an additional part to the land forms.

We do have some long threads running about land forms, geomorphology, plate tectonics etc and the most read one in that field is the one about river placement which seems to trip up the most obvious mistakes for maps that were supposed to have correct topology.

As a site tho, we are not exclusively about fantasy maps and do present real earth maps, science fiction maps, alternative earth maps and occasionally historical maps too. We can do hand drawn, computer simulation, GIS, vectors, raster, pen and ink, the odd 3D model and maybe something even more exquisite. If its to do with maps then its all fair game.

On a personal note, I was having trouble software modelling ice flows from glaciers and tho I have finished doing that for a while if you have any photos of the snow line in the Himalayas then I would like to see them. Since I had this question come up last week too, maybe this is something you may know well. What is the range of heights whereby you might expect to have a snow line in mountainous conditions ?

Thanks !

01-16-2013, 02:48 PM
Welcome to the Guild Valmiera! With your background and eye for geological accuracy I'm sure you will have much to contribute to the Guild (at least by way of helpful criticism). I look forward to seeing your work as well.


01-17-2013, 03:08 AM
Thanks for the warm welcome! Strange goings on in fantasy maps are absolutely fine with me providing they are justified somehow...rivers are one of my things in particular, I must admit!

Thank you for the additional information - I'll be sure to explore around a bit more than I have done already. I'm just about to hop onto a train to take me back to South India which will take somewhere in the region of two days if I'm lucky but I've got my graph paper with me to do some sketches on the way.

I'm just downloading my photos from my trek - I've got some good ones of things like the snowline (taken with my geography classes in mind!) so I'll share them when I get back.

Glacier modelling is complicated...I had a winter time job in Sweden/Norway for a couple of years whilst I was at university doing some glacial monitoring though I'm not sure I ever really understood everything I was doing; I just did as I was told!

The snowline is also a slightly odd concept. The range can be anything from a couple of hundred meters to many thousands. I got up to 5,400m in January and there were only a few small patches of snow with glaciers still quite high above in the mountains. The permanent snowline is supposed to be somewhere around the 4,800m mark (summer) and decreases in winter. I went on a trekking holiday to the Austrian Alps in April and we crossed the snowline somewhere just over 2000m. However, as you probably know so many different other aspects play a significant role. Much of what we were walking through was desert and I've never been somewhere so barren in my life. Behind the mountains (north on the Tibetan side) there was so little moisture because of the rain shadow there wasn't any snow worth speaking about. I think the snowline was about 900m higher here than it was when we were in the south where there was more moisture putting it around the 6000m mark. In the Indian state of Sikkim (wedged between Nepal and Bhutan) it was at 3,900m mostly due to much higher levels of precipitation. In other words it is incredibly variable in such an immense range like the Himalaya.

As a very general rule average temperature decreases as latitude increases at a rate of 1oC for every 5o of latitude. The limitations of this are very clear when you compare countries like the UK with countries on the same latitude which are generally a lot colder in winter for a number of reasons. Temperature decreases with altitude a bit more predictably, about 6.5oC with every 1000m climb.

I'm sure I can do this better. I'm quite tired and just hanging around for a bit...I'll write some better stuff when I get back home.