Panology of Science Fiction: G


Nothing builds intricate worlds like the attention to detail given to the story’s geography. What makes a setting compelling is the effort that goes into creating elaborate planets that are logical and familiar in terms of geology, history, climate and all that encompasses the geographical nature of the fictional world.

The more variety and complexity a world has, the further it enhances the other elements in the story. Physical environments can affect the plot and character, and determine what social organizations, culture and belief systems populate the place.

Mongo \ Flash Gordon
Flash Gordon comic book: Map of Planet Mongo by Alex Raymond.

Variance is important. You can’t just have a planet depicted as having single forms of environments. Entirely desertic, or forested planets make no sense. Unless it’s an airless or complete snowball world, any grassland planets, swamp planets, ocean planets, and even a completely urbanized planet packed would have different temperate zones. They would be colder at the poles, and hotter at the equator. Mountain ranges and oceans would make a difference. And if tidally locked, the climate should provide enough variation to create a complex ecological system.

Arrakis of Dune


Dune (1965) – Frank Herbert

Arrakis Map
Dune Map


 Hyperion (1989) and The Fall of Hyperion (1990), by Dan Simmons

The Mars Trilogy

Red Mars (1992), Green Mars (1993), and Blue Mars (1996) by Kim Stanley Robinson

Mars Map

Dragonriders of Pern

Dragonflight (1968), Dragonquest (1970), The White Dragon (1978) by Anne McCaffrey


Lord Valentine’s Castle (1980), Majipoor Chronicles (1982), Valentine Pontifex (1983), The Mountains of Majipoor (1995) by Robert Silverberg


Helliconia Spring (1982), Helliconia Summer (1983), and Helliconia Winter (1985) by Brian W. Aldis

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