<GROSSNESS WARNING> I'm putting this here, not for inspiration, but to point out that, in most cases, fiction has a long way to go before it can catch up to the weirdness of real life. </GROSSNESS WARNING>
A map projection is a mathematical transformation of a curved (typically ellipsoidal) surface to a flat plane. UTM is a collection of transforms to multiple flat planes and is therefore a system. I also deal with projections quite regularly as I've spent the last ten years writing GIS software.