New from the Dodd Industries art department: Some cartography and vexillology for the next book!
As I discussed four years ago in the Background Notes, The Racetrack Chronicle, Evaded Cadence, and my other BSG work takes place in a world that is almost the one depicted in the QMX Map of the Twelve Colonies, but not quite. Most saliently, the positions of Virgon and Tauron are flipped, and that of Ragnar is moved to the αβ pair rather than the γδ pair.
For my third book, which I’ve been working on with a view to a Fall 2021 release, I wanted to provide a map that tracks what I’ve described in words and depicted on the cover of Evaded Cadence. One that in substance adheres to the QMX map and the decisions it made, but which deviates from (or, to be more critical about it, in some cases corrects) it where necessary, and which can easily be represented in my preferred medium of books despite its Brobdingnagian scale. (Both previous books remark on that wondrous scale, each in their own way; Evaded Cadence discusses it quite clinically from Frances’ perspective, and in The Racetrack Chronicle, the transit between the two pairs forms the backbone of Maggie’s pre-Fall deployment on the battlestar Galactica.) The Mandel-Grazier-Espenson-Gore QMX map is beautiful, but it’s not very practical for my purposes.
Which brings us to this:
This map sacrifices any notions of scale or beauty in order to more effectively represent the spatial relationships of the worlds in a format that works on a kindle screen or a paper page.
Of the salient changes, I won’t belabor what my earlier posts explain; briefly, Ragnar cannot be at the far end of Cyrannus, and Virgon must be in Helios Alpha. Those corrections are distinctive of my continuity, and they are inextricable given the geopolitical consequences that I sketched in the Chronology appended to The Racetrack Chronicle.
Still, there are here other deviations from and developments of the QMX map which bear note. This map reflects my development of the Jovian moons, of which we visit at least two in book three. The most plot significant of those moons in the book is Callisto, which—at risk of unpicking the analogical lock—serves as Virgon’s Siberia. The most cartographically significant change, though, is the alteration of the two named moons on the QMX map. I didn’t like either of those names for basically idiosyncratic reasons,and so my draft avoids the problem by transcribing them as Naike and Hoebe, providing a third moon, Phoebe, to clarify the pronunciation of the latter. That change triggered another change because, when working on this map, I realized that QMX so denominates the innermost world of Helios Delta. Searching for a different name, Rhodos—mythologically, a wife of Helios—seemed optimal.
Worth mentioning for anyone displeased by these labelling changes is that this map is drawn from Virgon’s perspective, and it exists in-universe decades before the timeframe of either canonical show. Evaded Cadence alluded to Canceron having its own entirely different language and (logographic) writing system, (the Kare, named for Apple typographer Susan…) so there’s no more conflict between QMX labelling Hδ-i as Phoebe while Virgon calls it Rhodos than there is between the country ruled by Beijing calling itself 中国 or Zhōnggu and us calling it China. And nothing here excludes the possibility that things changed between the events of my third book and the events of canonical Caprica decades later.
I’ve also taken the liberty of adding some (named) ice giants and ghosting in some (unnamed) dwarf planets. It struck me as anomalous that each of Helios’ four systems had one gas giant but no ice giants, even though current science implies that the latter are all-but an inevitable byproduct for any protoplanetary disk large enough to cross the ice line. Thus, Beta gained one ice giant, Irkalla, to augment its gas-giant Hera; Delta, two, Cerberos and Plutos, to augment Hestia; and Gamma, Eurynome, to augment Ophion. I chose names that I thought fitted with Colonial sensibilities and the peculiarities of the systems. At the same time, I didn’t want to just xerox a list of Greek mythological names. Plutos and Cerberos have obvious roots in Greek myth, and Eurynome was too clearly the right counterpart to Ophion to refuse. But Irkalla is Babylonian, and its moon Naraka is Hindu. BSG is demythologized history to all of us, not just the greeks, after all.
Adding ice giants to Beta, Delta, and Gamma provided a convenient way to at least tilt toward balancing the masses, as well as providing a convenient place to stick a moon called Djerba, the otherwise-problematic setting of some of Blood And Chrome. (Not strictly canon for my books, but I try to preserve continuity with it.) It also struck me that it was a good way to limit the damage I’m causing to the QMX map; we can just pretend that the in-universe authors of that map (which presents itself as an in-universe product) simply chose to exclude that entire category of planets for idiosyncratic, in-universe reasons.
Finally, a brief word on typography. Titles are set in Eurostile bold extended (used in title cards for both BSG and Caprica as well as some chirons in the latter), and labels in Gill Sans. Those faces were used for the cover of The Racetrack Chronicle, chosen respectively for their connections to the show and general sci-fi heritage, as well as their elegance. Happily, Gill Sans looks particularly good here.
To decorate the map a little, I thought it would be fun to round out my collection of pre-Articles flags. This, too, echoes the QMX map in concept while striking out on my own in detail. That map is set during the Adar administration and its uniform, templated banners for the postwar Twelve Worlds may be taken to reflect that government’s managerial attitude and standardizing habits of mind. (Cf. Luke’s and Carolyn’s opposite perspectives on the EU-like direction of Adar’s rule in Evaded Cadence.) By contrast, my third book is set almost a century before BSG, and decades before even Caprica. The worlds are still very much separate.
I had already designed flags for pre-Articles Virgon, Scorpia, and Canceron while writing Evaded Cadence, though only Scorpia’s ended up being material to the story. (It is on Reed’s desk when Frances and Carolyn visit.) I was confident that the Battlestar Masada folks had a flag for Sagittaron (they did), and I knew exactly what Leonis’ and Libran’s flags should be. So that was halfway there already. Creating six more was doable.
My main criterion was simple: They should be a mess. I felt strongly that given the history I’d sketched in the Chronology, they should not be even coherent, let alone uniform. They should use many different aspect-ratios and palettes. They should look like what they are, in-universe: The products of many different, independent nations at many different times, reflecting different sensibilities and imperatives. They should be in many ways the opposite of the banners depicted a century later on the QMX map while retaining discernible lineage with them.
Secondarily, I felt that they should be recognizable as flags yet not too closely resemble any modern flag, even at an elemental level. For example, three of them use stars in their charges, but only one (Aquaria) uses the five-pointed star common on modern flags; each of the twelve stars in Gemenon’s halo has eight points, and Leonis’ single star has nine points. Some of them appear to demand specific shades, but others do not; two (Canceron and Aerilon) don’t even specify an aspect-ratio. Similarly, I didn’t want to eschew the zodiak, but I felt it was too lazy and easy to use it everywhere, and for that reason, Libran’s and Aquaria’s flags use the modern zodiak, and, deliberately, none of them use the QXM zodiak symbols. I also felt that one of them should be ugly, and hoo boy is Aerilon’s ugly.
All save one are rectangles (Leonis’ is a swallow-tailed pennant), but, like real flags, they use several different aspect-ratios. The most common is 2:1 because that’s the ratio of Canada’s flag (“made in Vancouver” after all!) and the most interesting one is Picon’s, which uses the golden ratio. Some (but not all) of them use elements from the banners we later see in the show and on the QMX map; it made sense that the flag of Caprica would be the one most clearly related to those later banners, but I wanted it to be different and I was determined that those later, standard, conformist flags should look like they, in-universe, came later. Thus, the key elements extracted from them was color: Gemenon’s red and green, for example, Tauron’s white and yellow, Aquaria’s blue and gold, and Leonis’ red, white, and blue.
Not all of them use charges (Picon’s post-independence pre-Articles flag is a simple white banner edged, melodramatically, in blood red, and Gemenon, Virgon, Tauron, Leonis, and Sagittaron all look like they are probably flown without their charges in some cases), but many do. Some of those charges relate to the zodiak, but not all of them; Scorpia’s is geographic, Tauron’s reflects its history (in my continuity) as an aspirant armorer to the worlds. Leonis uses a nine-pointed star made of tesselating spearheads; we see spearheads as a motif in several places in the show, and the nine points reminds us that in my continuity, for most of the first millennium after the exodus, there were nine colonies, not twelve. (See the Chronology at the end of The Racetrack Chronicle for more on that, as well as several places in Evaded Cadence.)
The weirdest flag is Canceron’s, and the ugliest is its vassal Aerilon. Here’s a rundown:
- Virgon. 1.33:1 (cf. San Marino); vertical stripes of methane blue and white, 3/5 and 2/5 respectively, with a green charge centered in the fly.
- This will sound silly, but the charge came to me in a dream, and I’ve stuck with it. It’s two overlapping diamonds, though I suppose it might be spearheads. The blue is the blue of Uranus.
- Picon. 1.618:1; white field fringed with narrow stripes of crimson at the top and bottom.
- At the time when the book is set, Picon’s velvet divorce from Virgon is about twelve years in the past. I felt that a very simple design would be a good fit for them, and while the blood-red fringing (adopted from the later Colonial banner) feels melodramatic, that feeling of melodrama doesn’t seem inappropriate in-universe, given politicians’ bent for exaggerating their own bravery and risk.
- Gemenon. 2:1; three equal vertical stripes of red, india green, and red, with, centered, the legend FIRST, and an anchor haloed with twelve stars.
- The only flag with a legend, the Gemenon Republic’s flag presages the colors of its Colonial-era banner while emphasizing its stratus as the first-founded colony.
- Caprica. 2:1; horizontal stripes of red, white, ocean-blue, white, and red, the blue being twice as wide as the equal stripes of white and red, with a jade green inset canton in the hoist.
- Caprica’s flag is the only one that lifts almost directly from (or, chronologically-speaking, presages) the later banners of the United Colonies. It merges those stripes with the elongated green canton of the Vancouver municipal flag as a nod to the production. My first iteration of this included the QMX zodiak, but I felt that that was too on the nose.
- Leonis. Swallowtailed pennant with equal vertical stripes of garter-blue, white, and cardinal-red with a nine-pointed gold star comprising tessellated spearheads.
- Graphically, this is my favorite of the flags; it obviously homages the French flag since Leonis is all-but explicitly my stand-in for France, and I was keen for one flag to be something other than a rectangle. The nine-pointed star made of tesselated spearheads both sets down a marker for the chronologically-subsequent colonial rank devices and reminds that, in my continuity, there were only nine colonies for the first thousand years of Colonial history.
- Tauron. 2:1; three equal horizontal stripes of yellow, white, and red, with a vertical band of black in the hoist (often containing a representation of a fortress).
- Tauron strikes me as a kind of cross between Spain, Italy, and Germany, so I chose colors that evoked both and a charge that implied defense industry.
- Scorpia. 1.4:1 (cf. Kosovo); three horizontal bands of white, cobalt blue, and burnt orange, the white being twice as wide as the equal stripes of blue and orange, with a bunt-orange circle and a silver half ring in the upper fly.
- This was designed for Evaded Cadence where it decorated the desk of the Scorpian Secretary of Justice, Sam Reed (Ray Wise), when Frances and Carolyn visit. I wanted to signal where the colony’s headspace is in those last days before the Fall. The flag represents the red dirt and cobalt-blue sky of Scorpia, with a thick band of white containing a representation of the planet that includes the stylized half-ring of Scorpia, which Carolyn dismisses (to the reader’s amusement as much, I hope, as mine) as a fraud.
- Libran. 1.375:1 (cf. Israel); white field with inset blue horizontal stripes, and, centered, a red zodiak charge.
- Comment: Obviously pays homage to the flag of Israel and continues my running theme of treating Libran as a kind of proto-hebraic people.
- Sagittaron. 1.6:1; vertical bands of gold, blood red, grey, blood red, and gold, the grey being twice as wide as the equal stripes of gold and red, with a representation of an arcus ceremonial knife centered.
- Canceron. Black field fimbriated by a white line across the waist, with a gold ring at the center, a smaller orange ring toward the fly, and a small green ring between them.
- This one, also designed while writing Evaded Cadence (for a subplot that tdidn’t make the cut), is alien to any earthly vexillological sensibility, but I liked that. It depicts space cut by the plane of the ecliptic and rings denoting Helios Delta, Hestia, and Canceron itself.
- Aerilon. Upper half blue horizontal strip; lower half divided diagonally between brown and green, with representations of a sheaf of wheat and a sickle centered.
- Aquaria. 1.5:1; blue field with, centered, in gold, a zodiak and sextant haloed with a ring of stars and dolphins.
- I love this one, which obviously borrows from the state flag of New Hampshire. Dolphins and stars swim around the charge, so I guess Aquaria (seen in my short-story Aftermath: Aquaria as well as Evaded Cadence) has complex marine life?