SF Signal on Fantasy Maps

The role of maps in fantasy is an ongoing interest of mine, one I’ve begun researching in earnest. (Watch this space: I’m up to something.) So I was naturally interested when SF Signal asked a number of authors, illustrators, other publishing professionals and readers, as part of their Mind Meld series of interviews, the following question: “What is the role and place of maps in Fantasy novels? Which are your favorites? Why?

Lots of answers ensued — here, for example, is an excerpt from Saladin Ahmed’s response:

Coming before the text of the novel as they often do, fantasy maps help to set a reader’s expectations. Prefacing a novel with a map is saying “An immersive made world is among my highest priorities here.” The map gives readers a panoramic view of the novel’s world — often a wider view than what is available to the characters – before zooming in on the local and personal details that are the building blocks of early chapters.

From Philip Athans:

I just hope that in the new era of austerity that’s descended upon the publishing business that the fantasy novel map will survive. Having a really good one drawn up by an artist who actually knows how to draw maps is not cheap.

From Mathew Cheney:

Maps in books are often more fascinating to me than the books themselves, because maps suggest possibilities. When I first learned to read, I tried hard to get through Treasure Island, but it defeated my skills and bored me. I didn’t care, though, because there was that gloriously undetailed map. That’s all I’d really wanted from the book, because with the map, I could make up whatever stories or characters I wanted.

Read the whole thing. For my earlier posts about maps in fantasy (and other literature), see The Map Room’s Fiction About Maps and Imaginary Places category archives.

Author: Jonathan Crowe

I blog about maps at The Map Room, review books for AE: The Canadian Science Fiction Review, and edit a fanzine called Ecdysis.