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Map of The Scorpion Rules

Today, something cool: a map of the North America as depicted in The Scorpion Rules. The long-term conflict behind the story -- the disaster that made human-kind nearly destroy itself, 400 years into the story's past -- is sea-level rise driven by global warming. This redrew the coastlines and displaced billions, igniting famines, plagues, and wars. Fortunately our robot overlords were there to save us from ourselves. Thank you, robot overlords!

I based the coastline changes depicted here on the research done by the National Geographic Foundation. It assumes total melt of the Greenland and Antarctic land ice. This is a 5MB file; if you click on it you can make it as big as you like.

As for the political boundaries here ... some of them I worked out for the story, but when Simon & Schuster suggested this map, I found myself with continent to fill in. I called my friend E.K. Johnston. In addition to being a fabulous author (see and read The Story of Owen, A Thousand Nights, and Exit, Pursued by A Bear), Kate is a near-eastern archaeologist who regards Gertrude Bell as a giant and has strong opinions about where borders go and why. She's pretty much perfect for this.

So Kate, my husband James, and I got together with a stack of maps and textbooks to decide the fate of nations over a bowl of chips and some wine, as if it were 1919. You know what the Great Powers did to (say) the Kurds? That's nothing compared to what we did to Chicago.

Some interesting things about this map:

  • Bye bye Florida! I didn't do it: blame National Geographic.

  • Borders were tricky. They've historically followed rivers, but in this world, states are hoping to control watersheds, which makes rivers exactly the wrong spot for boundaries. They roughly follow drainage basins or other geographical features, with nods to areas thought might keep a group identity culturally.

  • The "Free State" of Boston is actually a pirate enclave. They're not technically at war with anyone, but they are super irritating, and Talis is considering doing something mean to them. The "Free State" of St. Paul is a disputed territory. Talis got so sick of the dispute that he put it under UN control, occupying it with a zillion peacekeeping automatons. This has nothing to do with the fact that I went to grad school in the Twin Cities and hated it.

  • While I was in the bathroom, James and Kate created a Mormon state. All the other states have fluid boundaries based on mountain ranges or whatever, but Deseret has Utah's boundaries exactly. "How are they going to manage?" I objected. "It's too dry to farm and all their neighbours are post-industrial." James struck a pose. "We walked to this place, we made this place, and we're keeping this place. So there."

  • At one point I turned to Kate and said, with great seriousness, "I think we're going to have to take Michigan." The Pan Polar Confederacy, you'll notice, is in entire control of the Great Lakes, except for the disputed part at Erie. This means the Canadian border moved south. On the other hand, you'll notice the Canadians lost a big chunk of the west coast, west of the Rockies -- it fractured away after Saskatchewan was abandoned. Calgary is now an edge-of-the-empire garrison.

  • "Do we really have to blow up Chicago?" I asked Kate. "We don't have to," she said. "But we CAN." Chicago was a problem for us as map makers. It couldn't be an American port if the PanPols were taking the Great Lakes, but I also didn't think the PanPols could hold it easily. In-universe version of that: in a time of global food shortages, the good farmland centered on Iowa became hotly contested, and Omaha and Chicago bombed the hell out of each other trying to take it. Unfortunately, that rendered said good farmland too radioactive to use. (Fun fact: I grew up in Omaha. I frankly feel entitled to (fictionally) destroy it.)

  • Did you know! Real-world spaceports are located as close to the equator as politically possible, for the ground-speed boost, and on the east coast so that a launching ship that falls will fall into water. The PanPols have their big one in Truro, Nova Scotia. The most prosperous and industrial of the American States, Carobama, has one in Altoona, and the great powers of the Caribbean have one in Port au Prince. There's one in Boston too but it's cut-rate and keeps falling over. I wanted to put a spaceport in Charlottetown, but sadly found I'd accidentally destroyed all of Prince Edward Island. I still regret "Spaceport Charlottetown," but such is life.

  • New Dakota is inhabited mostly by nomadic people, many with long traditions in the area -- the Lakota are the dominant group. The area is marginal in our time, and after the big shift it became too dry to farm. America is rich in people who remember that there are others ways to live.

  • Laura Ingalls Wilder fans may note that James put the capital of Ingalla at Mansfield, Missouri.

  • The whole Pan Polar Confederacy does not show on this map, because it is (wait for it) pan-polar. The seven crowns of the confederacy are: Canada, Iceland, Scotland (England doesn't fair well in this universe), Sweden, Norway, Finland, and Siberia.

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