The Winter Cartographer

The cartography, writing, and ramblings of one crazy winter lover who likes to blog about the fun and inconsequential.


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Done for the Map of the Fortnight competition on Sufficient Velocity



This is a world in which the American Revolution went rather differently than in our own, and ended up creating a series of states across British North America all under the King to various degrees. These were Nova Scotia, Canada, the Commonwealth of America, and the Dominion of New England (revived to have some legitimacy and with New York as a balance to the more extremist Massachusetts). While the compromise was enough to stabilize the situation in the Americas, it did not calm all of the revolutionaries and dissenters. Those who were not happy with the status quo--a semblance of independence and more representation in Parliament but still definitively under the English--decided to move west. They first traveled to Louisiana and sought refuge there, but found that the best lands were taken or patrolled by the Spanish and the rest was wild and unsuitable for their agriculture. So, they headed west to the semi-mythical land of Oregon and eventually settled in what they called Providence Valley (what we call Willamette Valley). The capital, named Jefferson after their deceased former leader, served as the center of life for the new and small nation. The government created was one similar to the one created by the United States in our world, though leaning far more towards rights for farmers over the small but significant business class who began to trade heavily with Russian and Spanish merchants.

Time passed and revolutionaries and radicals filtered in to the new liberal democracy, especially as the British continued to move west in the 19th century with the annexation of Louisiana. However, the biggest change came with the outlawing of slavery throughout the British Realm in 1831. Suddenly, American slaveowners and those in support of slavery were without some of their greatest resources and at odds with a powerful empire. Some chose rebellion, but the Commonwealth quickly crushed them. The rest decided to pack up their things and make their way to Oregon as best they could and create there a society in their own image. These settlers were largely evangelical in their religion and saw their arrival in Oregon as Biblical in proportion: a fruit of the teachings of the many religious men on the long road to Oregon. At first, the bands of trekkers were welcomed into Oregon, who was happy to increase its population. However, the number of southerners who poured into Oregon in the following decades greatly outnumbered the original settlers and began to transform the liberal democracy from the inside. By the late 19th century, Oregon was ruled by a reactionary government who retained voting rights for landed adult white men, but in practice it was restricted to the elites who had quickly expanded themselves on the farmlands of the Providence Valley and to the north, reducing many former landowners to tenant farmers on their own lands. Rebellions began to occur, and clashes with Native American tribes were frequent, including with those allied to the British in the West.

Things would eventually come to a head in the 1890s with what is today called the Oregon Wars. This series of wars--really one long war with short breaks--was brutally fought between the independent-minded Oregonians and the British Empire who wished to extend its rule over Oregon and was supported, at first, by many inside the colony. However, the use of brutal tactics by the British including population transfers, camps to separate normal people from partisans, and relentless industrial warfare on the Oregonian military (a glorified militia) turned public opinion against the British as they struggled to subdue the massive territory of Oregon. By the end of the fighting, the pre-war population of around 220,000 in Oregon had been reduced by close to 50,000 killed and 30,000 deported to other British possessions as prisoners. Most of the dead were from disease and malnutrition due to the war's devastation, sickness running rampant in the land, and the conditions in the camps. Many of the dead were women and children. The international outcry against the wars resulted in the fall of the "old" Tories and restructuring of the British government and parties in Parliament. In addition, this conflict and subsequent annexing of Oregon into the Commonwealth of America as a province spurred on the creation of a constitution and the "Letter of Right" for the Commonwealth of America to form its own government separate from that of Britain, retaining only a select few aspects of British control and thus becoming, to a degree, independent.

Today, the history of Oregon is taught throughout the Commonwealth as a multifaceted lesson of revolution, reaction, brutality, and war for the wrong reasons that continues to educate the youth of the Commonwealth for now and into the future. Oregon itself is today recovered, though much of the population descended from settlers who came after the annexation. The memories and scars live on from the halls of the Capitol in Jefferson to the gentle rolling hills of the Providence Valley, forever replaying a lesson hard-learned and signed in blood.


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The Rebirth of Rome

Done for the Map of the Fortnight contest over at Sufficient Velocity: https://forums.sufficientvelocity.com/threads/motf-1-rebirth.40460/



The Roman Empire under Maurice was not restored to its former glory, but it did survive. Transferring an increasing amount of power to the rich provinces in the Middle East and North Africa, particularly in Egypt, the Roman Empire was able to survive and endure the perilous 7th and 8th centuries that determined whether the Roman Empire would live or fall. It lived, if only barely, with at one point much of the Middle East almost lost to the Arabian invaders before being driven back for all time. The Roman Empire would endure in the centuries that followed, ebbing and rising in its power over time, though always at the forefront of European power. However, despite this, Rome's power increasingly came from other sources besides Europe. While the Empire kept a presence within Greece, Macedonia, Thrace, and of course The Eternal City of Constantinople, the true power of the empire lay elsewhere. In particular, Egypt was the center of the empire, the axis around which the entirety of Rome spun around. Egypt was the breadbasket, the population center, the Great Bazaar writ large, and the location of Alexandria: the only city that could rival Constantinople in its splendor.

It is only natural, then, that when the Roman Empire at last entered a new Golden Age during the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries, it would be Egypt and the Near East where the greatest fruits would be borne. It began as Rhomania came to be ruled by the so-called "Aegyptian dynasty", rulers who hailed largely from Alexandria even if they technically ruled from the palace in Constantinople. This dynasty took power away from semi-feudal governors of the themes who had gained increasing amounts of power over the centuries. They took this power and invested it into local government at the city, town, and village level, and emperors surrounded themselves with far more competent advisers under a system of absolute national rule and hands-off local rule.

This had many effects on Egypt and the Near East within the Empire. Egypt rose to ever-greater heights, becoming far and away the richest part of Rhomania bar the city of Constantinople itself, and the population of the region swelled. Commerce became a huge industry as the markets of Alexandria and along the Nile held goods from all over the world and Egypt itself was the great middleman for connecting Europe to Asia, shifting the balance away from Thrace and Asia Minor. Yet it was in the Near East where some of the greatest effects were felt: the Anagénnisi (Rebirth). Here, city governors, bishops, and powerful patron families in the great cities of the region began to use their newfound freedoms and power to transform the Roman Near East. Many great building projects were taken underway, ancient cities transformed over decades into some of the most modern and sophisticated cities in the world. Great works of art, music, and writing were commissioned in this time, and the best minds of Rhomania (as well as Europe and the Middle East) flocked to the region. In particular, Jerusalem underwent a transformation greater than any that had occurred since the city was allowed to openly preach Christianity, becoming a city of all the world and yet unique unto itself with powerful men from every corner of the Earth vying for just a seat at the table. The City of God would only be one of many in the region to be affected, but nowhere else were the works grander of the people working harder.

The Golden Age would not last forever, of course, but it would be one of the most notable of that period as the world began to breathe new life into itself and flourish across all continents. Rome, then, stood at the center of this rebirth and reaped the riches from it, finally living up to the legacy the nation had so long borne. 

Full size here: http://i.imgur.com/gFFmc2X.png

This is a world that diverged from our own in the years 420 and 421 AD, as the Jin Dynasty in China falls terribly hard at the same time that Constantius III, Emperor of Rome, does not suddenly perish and so the world is forever changed. The times after the point of divergence begin to truly diverge from our own as the Roman Empire, in a last saving throw, manages to stay together thanks to Constantius III and his successors. In China, the invasion of northern nomadic peoples spells doom for the tenuous dynasties that had asserted themselves after the fall of the Jin. The Northern China Plain and Yangtze River Valley were split into many competing and divided states warring upon one another. In the south, the Liu Song hold on for a bit longer, laboring under the idea that they will usher a return to China’s glory, but it is not to be. The remnants of the Liu Song will instead reform in the south around Guangzhou and eventually form the modern state as Yue.

Time passes and the world changes. Rome survives through the better incorporation of Germanic peoples into the empire, particularly in border regions that allows them to the weather the storm of nomadic migrations, even if they have a few crises along the way. Some time later In Arabia, the nomadic Arab herdsmen are united by a new religion arising out of the powerful coastal towns of Mecca and Medina. They unite Arabia under a single empire led by a Caliph, and take stabs at breaking out into Roman and Persian territory. These attempts, however, fail and force the restless Muslim warriors, traders, and diplomats in another direction: Africa. Crossing the Red Sea into the land of Axum, the Arabs carry out long campaigns throughout coastal East Africa (and inland where they can survive) that sees massive tracts of land brought under control of a centralized settled government for the first time, and united even more strongly by the religion which spreads rapidly in the region. It will not be the last place Islam spreads, but it will be where it is strongest outside Arabia itself. For centuries afterward, East Africa will be the central axis of power around which the Muslim world rotates, providing great amounts of resources, trade, and manpower directly to the Caliph that allows him to stand on more equal footing with the other great Muslim rulers of Persia (converted through a mix of invasions and diplomacy) and the Muslim empires in India (converted through missionaries). The focus on the spread of Islam through seafaring trade and missionary work will later help convert much of Southeast Asia, with particularly large effects.

The Roman Empire, at the same time, is not slow to realize the potential of Africa either. Camels were brought into Rome for the first time with the Arab invasions, and left afterwards by the invaders and their numbers increased through trade with the Arabian Empire. These animals, for the first time, would allow enterprising Romans to cross the vast sands of the Sahara into the fertile Sahel of West Africa, and the great peoples that dwell there. The traders who ply the dangerous desert routes for gold, salt, and ivory bring with them new architectural techniques, Latin systems of writing and books, Roman organization, and most importantly of all: the Christian religion. Christianity spreads like wildfire across the Sahel, particularly as Rome tends to favor the peoples of the Sahel who are Christian over those who aren’t, and gives them weapons, training, and supplies in exchange for spreading the word of God across Africa. The trade would go on to make all sides rich, and the great kings of the Sahel will become, in time, some of the richest men in history.

It is in China, however, that some of the greatest and most rapid strides are made in virtually every field. While Rome and Arabia struggle to keep vast empires together and play family politics and while India is stuck in a cycle of empires continually growing and shrinking, the stabilizing of the Chinese states in the 9th and 10th centuries allows for great amounts of growth. Competition breeds ingenuity, and the Chinese are no stranger to either. The warring states, stuck in a vastly long Winter Period since the fall of the Jin in 420, make great technological strides that put them ahead of much of the world. They learn how to use wooden blocks to create crude but efficient printing presses, and to use special chemical mixtures to create powder that lights upon contact with fire. The smaller states that will later be formed into Qin find themselves constantly competing for more innovations and ways to gain a foothold against each other. Literacy begins to climb for the first time since the fall of the Jin, bureaucratic reforms enable smaller states to fight far above their weight class, examinations for government officials weed out the week, and improved methods of trade and travel enrich coastal nations like Yue and the peninsular Lu. Chinese writing, art, philosophy, religion, mathematics, and economics spread rapidly through East Asia, particularly in the states of Goseon (particularly Goguryeo who uses these advantages to take over and rule the peninsula after a century of conflict), the Viet state of Cham Pa to the south, and to the Yamato of Nihon. These changes not only effectively Sinicize much of East Asia but also rapidly advance the states that lie within. These reforms even reach the nomads of the north and will eventually lead to the conflicts between the settled and nomadic peoples of the Grass Sea that form the Grand Khaganate.

Perhaps the greatest effect the Chinese states have on the world, however, is yet to come. Islam reaches Southeast Asia in the 11th century, and results in a vast series of wars between Muslim and non-Muslim southeast Asians. The Chinese occasionally meddle in the affairs, but largely the conflicts go ignored until the mid-14th century when the Malay peoples form a single dynasty controlling the straits that link the Donghai and Ratnakaran Oceans. After a century of conflict that had begun to include quarreling with the decidedly non-Muslim Chinese (though large enclaves in the Chinese states exist, particularly in Guangzhou and Lin’an), the new dynasty closed the straits to Chinese traffic except without heavy tolls and promises of special treaties with the Malays. This measure immediately impacted the profits and sustainability of coastal Chinese states and of the trade-heavy Nihon. A solution eventually arose: traders had for quite some time ventured north past the island of Ezochi and the string of islands there and towards a different string of islands that, it was said, led to an entirely different and vast land. The Emperor of Nihon had already been sending ships north to explore the lands after he had decisively claimed Ezochi just a decade before, and so sent vessels further north and to the legendary lands beyond. These lands would turn out to be the northernmost region of Jinshan (Gold Mountain), the first of two continents found by the East Asians. News of the discovery spread fast, even if not every Chinese state was interested. It would be the coastal states like Yue, Lu, and the Later Yan who would be the first to tentatively send their ships, crews, and later settlers beyond the bounds of East Asia towards the promised riches of the New World. Crossing the Donghai Ocean straight across was not possible at the time, and so a steady stream of ships turned north, around the curve of the world and cold waters of northern Asia and Jinshan, and then headed south to the warmer and richer lands there. They found areas like the Golden Bay to make land, interact with the natives, and set up trade. Some went even further south and found the great empires of the New World, the Aztecs, Mayan states, and the new but powerful Inca.

The interactions between the East Asians and peoples of Jinshan and Yinshan were complicated from the start. Disease brought from the Old World, even in far more limited forms than our own world, inflicted pain on the native populations and the population suffered. The Chinese were not ones to conquer, however, and instead worked on setting up trade, alliances, and settlement among the peoples already there. This was particularly apparently in regards to the Aztecs and Incans, who managed to hold on despite population and became well-regarded by the Chinese despite some of their violent ways. Settlement of the Chinese in their own states was largely confined to the West Coast of Jinshan, where connection to East Asia was easiest.  Settlement among the Aztecs, Incans, and other peoples certainly happened but there would not be any Chinese-led states in the region. Chinese contact would instead help spur on further developed of the native states throughout the two continents, with many formerly tribal or Bronze Age peoples flourishing with new technologies, philosophies, and weapons of war and trade; the horse was something of a revolution. In the east, Norsemen happened upon the places they called Newfoundland and Vinland and established colonies of their own there, though the sparsely-populated outposts would never achieve the political or cultural dominance the way the Chinese could. The balance of power in the Shans was forever after in Southern Jinshan and Western Yinshan. Over the next few centuries, native empires grew rapidly in the Mississippi Valley (using our own term for convenience) and in the south of Jinshan where various Aztec dynasties grew northwards, creating ever-larger empires of commerce and resource exploitation. The Incan Empire itself, under Chinese influence, grew to new heights of power and extended across much of the Western Coast of Yinshan.

Industrialization brought only more complications to the world. Beginning in the 17th century and progressing onward, the industrialization of the Chinese states and those in the Shans spread a whole new world of technology different from anything seen before. Travel on rails, mass media and production of books, high rates of literacy and the sciences, and revolutions in warfare. A few times states almost conquered all of China, most notably the expansionist Shu Republic, which was the first of its kind in China. Rail lines crisscrossed the width and breadth of East Asia, and the Grand Khaganate began to come into its own as a major power, conquering and pacifying many parts of northern China that had once belonged to the states now part of the Han Summer Union. Africa was particularly affected by industrialization, as the new methods of fighting disease and faster transportation allowed both native African states and settlers to reach deep into the continent. The centuries-long Scramble for Nzere began in earnest, with the result being a massive organization of many industrial states of various origins. Rome was slow to catch on to industrialization for some time, even as the nations of the Riksradet caught on, and languished thus. For a time, it seemed that internal rebellion and outside intervention might topple the Roman Empire as the 19th century began. At the same time, in the second wave of industrialization, the nations of the Shans came into their own, particularly the oil-rich nations of Anahuac and the Federation of Jinshan. The world’s first collectivist state also came about in the era with the birth of the Nēhiyaw Collective in 1795.

The 19th century, however, would be the time of greatest change, and have a massive effect on the world as it is today. It would be the so-called “Ice Age Century” in which temperatures around the world dropped even as tensions heated. Wars were fought across Africa and the Shans as industrial powers jockeyed for power and alliances were formed, fought, and were broken almost constantly. The House of Islam, for a time, was all but shattered as religious divisions threatened to unwind it, and it was only the so-called “Reformation” that could reunite the quarreling wings of Islam, though not nearly to the degree it had once been. Anahuac fought wars overseas for its allies, becoming the first power native to the Shans to exert itself on the world stage. The greatest conflict, however, came in the form of the Winter War, fought from 1829-1842. It involved virtually every nation in East Asia and only ended with the total destruction of the state known today as the Late Chu state. At the time, it was declared as the Late Chu dynasty in a fit of nationalist fervor following conflicts and famine earlier in the century and sought to unite the entirety of China under a single government and used brutal means to do so. The Chu managed to conquer almost all of the Chinese states before being defeated by a broad coalition including the Grand Khaganate, Nihon, and Cham Pa, as well as the Federation of Jinshan, though at the cost of millions of lives. At the same time as this bloodshed, The Troubles raged in the Roman Empire as it came apart at the seams to a series of governments and movements and warlords that saw the empire almost completely fall, were it not for a revolutionary government that arose, spread throughout the Roman lands, and eventually united them all in the new Spartacist Republic of Rome. Never before in human history had so many been witness to the violence that gripped the world in the 19th century.

Now, as the world moves into the 20th century, the peoples throughout seek to learn from the mistakes and take advantage of the breakthroughs that occurred in the past. The world has found itself in a long peace, with the various alliances and organizations managing to hold together in peace and harmony for a time. The Spartacists rule Rome and have helped it progress to a mighty nation, even if one still struggling behind its past greatness. New nations to become powers such as the Malagasy Empire—united by brilliant rulers and industrialized by their successors into one of the most dynamic growing powers—and the Mississippi Union seek to take up the mantle from the great nations of the last century who have begun to recede from past heights. It is a time when people are far more connected than ever before, where new technologies and breakthroughs are behind every corner from outer space to cyber space. The coming challenges as the world warms up seem at times almost trivial to the potential humanity wields.


At the forefront of all this is the Han Summer Union. It was conceived in the ashes of the last war, as humans looked up from the rubble and ruin towards the sky and the stars beyond, and the boundless potential that they as a united China and world would have. The Qin, successors of the so-called Late Chu, were one of the original supporters, strange as it may seem. They and the other states of the Chinese were able to see past their petty grudges and rivalries and the endless conflict that had plagued the long and brutal Winter Period towards the birth of a new Summer Period, in which a union of all Han peoples could make them all richer, smarter, and safer. It is not an easy union to maintain and has been rough around the edges. Some of the nations immediately outside of the Chinese sphere refuse to join, and movements inside sometimes threaten to unravel it. Yet it is a union worth fighting for and the many millions of China will not stop working hard to see that the birth of this new Summer Period will usher in a new age for all Chinese and for peoples across the world, moving towards an ever-brighter future.


A map made for a project I'm working on. This project examines the American obsession with the Civil War--as well as the myth of the antebellum Dixie perpetuated in film, television, novels, and other media--and myths about the Confederate States of America through the lens of alternate history.

It is a story that examines the existence of two Americas, deeply divided against each other. Here we have the United States ("the North" and "the Union") with its massive industrialized cities choking with smog, poverty, and institutional oppression of immigrants and racial minorities yet also its hopeful looks toward the future with the many people who fight passionately for the rights of women, African-Americans, immigrants, socialists, populists, and more that helped transform the United States into practically two different countries in our own world--and here examined in a way to see what would have happened had that entire beast not been tied to the Jim Crow South.

We also have the Confederate States of America ("the South" and "Dixie"), subject of uncountable volumes of real and alternate history, with its repressive and regressive systems based in slavery, racial prejudice, oppression, extreme gaps in wealth, and poverty. It is a land unstable to the point of collapse at any given time and, indeed, in this world by 1900 it is on the edge of a revolution rivaling those in Russia and China in our own world. In real life, the Confederacy was dissolved but its legacy clung on for well over a century and, in many ways, still does to this day.

This project, thus, will look at a conceptual view of history in which the two vastly different parts of our own United States take different paths, and what the results would be; and hopefully along the way debunk some of the worst myths surrounding the Confederacy still held today by white supremacists and other evil persons.

I hope you enjoy the map and hope you will further enjoy the writing itself, which will accompany this map shortly.


Today is Trans Day of Visibility! It's a day to celebrate and show that we are here, we exist, and we are strong, as a community of trans people. It is also a day for all of those in the closet to see us and know that they are loved, they are valid, and one day they will be seen as well. Today I can say I am a trans woman, I am visible, and I am proud. I am sending my love to all of my trans friends, whether today you are visible or not, and hope you all have a wonderful day. ⚧




As always, open the image in a new tab to see full size.

Here is a map done on commission to depict a relatively modern Republic of Texas that not only survived but became quite the powerful state in and of itself. Here it depicts the Republic in the form of a travel map to encourage citizens in the Texas Triangle (the cities of Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, and Austin which form a triangle relative to each other) to get out and see what the nation has to offer. Not much else to say here, as I did pretty much everything as close to how the commissioner wanted it and that was about it. I hope everyone enjoys! 

If anyone would like a commission like this one, feel free to contact via lynn@lynnz.world or through the Contact Form on my "About Me" page!



This map is, essentially, the start of a reboot of one of my scenarios entitled Where Hearts Were Entertaining June. The gist of the scenario is that in 1589 the English Armada is markedly more successful than in our own world, hitting the new Iberian Union hard enough to force the government in Madrid to offer peace terms to the English that left the Kingdom of England much better off: in exchange for accepting Spanish dominion over Portugal, the English would receive control over the former Portuguese colony of Brazil, with its growing population and large income.

Thus sets off the journey into a world far different than our own. One of the English in South America, the Portuguese in the North, of a world power Sweden and republican Poland and an entire adventure to look at what might have been. I hope in time everyone will enjoy it and for now enjoy this preview of the world, with the situation in 1592. Shortly after taking control, England reaffirmed the capital of Brazil as Salvador, sending new governors and officials who began to reorganize the territory, including renaming the two provinces. While a small change, it would be the start of a radically different future that would see Brazil become a major world leader in just about every field.

I will be using this map in the future essentially as a base to show changes throughout the timeline as they occur, so expect more to come and I hope you all will enjoy.