How about those opening credits to Game of Thrones, the HBO series based on George R. R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire series? It’s a fantasy map with gears, which is somehow appropriate. (The map will apparently change as the series progresses.) Via Very Spatial.
Nicholas Tam has written a very long essay on maps in fantasy novels — their design, their relationship to the text, their use to the reader. It’s definitely worth reading in full; here’s a piece:
So when we open up a novel to find a map, we can think of the map as an act of narration. But what kind of narration? Is it reliable narration or a deliberate misdirection? Is it omniscient knowledge, a complete (or strategically obscured) presentation of the world as the author knows it? Or is the map available to the characters in the text? If it is, then who drew up the map, and how did they have access to the information used to compose it? If it isn’t, then through what resources do the characters orient themselves in their own world? And finally, does anyone even bother to think about these questions before they sit down to place their woodlands and forts?
In the post that follows, I am going to informally sketch out a theory of fictional maps, which is to say that I will put up a lot of pretty pictures from novels and talk about why they are neat. There is likely some academic work on this somewhere — I would be astonished if there weren’t — but I’m not aware of any, and certainly nothing that has accounted for modern critical approaches to the history of cartography. Map history and the comparative study of commercial genre literature are niches within niches as it stands, and my aim is to entwine them together.
I don’t often post links to (or via) Strange Maps — not because I have anything against Frank, but because I assume that you’re already reading it. But I’m making an exception in this case for Frank’s post about the map from the Russian translation of The Hobbit, because it’s utterly unlike any other fantasy map I’ve ever seen (most of them have a certain sameness that is not improved by repetition), and certainly different from the maps made when J. R. R. Tolkien’s novel was first published. I’m making a note of that, here. Here’s a collection of maps from other foreign-language editions of The Hobbit.
Fantasy novelist Saladin Ahmed has put out a request for a high-quality map for his upcoming series. “Now. DAW’s in-house person can provide a very serviceable, basic, black-and-white line map. I love my publisher to death and have zero complaints… • Continue reading this entry.
Here’s another great website about maps of places that only exist in the minds of the mapmakers. Urban Geofiction is a collection of maps of imaginary cities by divers hands. Some maps are hand-drawn, some are produced to such… • Continue reading this entry.
Brian Nunnery has been doodling maps of imaginary cities since he was in kindergarten. He’s amassed a collection of nearly 500 maps, and he’s been posting them to his website — 20 so far. The maps, says Brian, “evolve steadily… • Continue reading this entry.
In this post (reprinted on io9), Adam Whitehead discusses the size of Westeros and the Seven Kingdoms in George R. R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire series. One map shows just how big Westeros is: “about 3,000 miles… • Continue reading this entry.
3-D Starmaps is a website by Winchell Chung about science fiction star maps: it has resources for science fiction writers interested in generating their own star maps (including how to plot them on a three-dimensional grid), discusses the real-world locations… • Continue reading this entry.
Most maps found in fantasy novels are rather uniform in design, following the style of, for example, the black-and-white maps Pauline Baynes did for novels by Lewis and Tolkien. J. E. Fullerton’s maps of the world of George R…. • Continue reading this entry.
Brian Cook has imagined a Metro for the Hartford, Connecticut area, and designed a map redolent of Harry Beck’s London Underground and the style of the Paris Metro. He’s doing a limited print run, too. Via Mark…. • Continue reading this entry.
Daniel Drucker has imagined a subway map for Ankh-Morpork, the main city in Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series of fantasy novels. Since, as far as I am aware, Ankh-Morpork doesn’t have a subway in the Discworld novels, he’s imagined that… • Continue reading this entry.
Comic Book Cartography collects maps and diagrams from comic books — more the latter (e.g., cutaways of superheroes’ headquarters) than the former so far. Via Boing Boing, among others. At right: Jack Kirby’s World of Kamandi. Previously: The Marvel… • Continue reading this entry.
(e)space & fiction is a blog about the use of maps “and other spatial machineries” in works of fiction, from novels to movies to comic books. Bilingual, in French and English. Thanks to Paul for the link…. • Continue reading this entry.
Over on Autostraddle, Taylor posts a “love song” to maps in video games. Well, no: no actual singing involved; it is, however, a long, appreciative post on maps found in various video games…. • Continue reading this entry.
Jon Heilman’s replica of the time portal map used in the 1981 Terry Gilliam movie Time Bandits is available for sale as a $100 giclée print on 40×24½-inch canvas. Via Boing Boing…. • Continue reading this entry.
The best maps of the island in the Lost TV series, from official and fan sources, as compiled by the sci-fi blog io9…. • Continue reading this entry.
On Tor.com, a series of posts by Jason Denzel that examine maps in fantasy novels, fantasy computer games and other fantasy media (with a digression to geocaching). Update, July 23: Add to that a fourth post on maps for Robert… • Continue reading this entry.
Kidlandia is an interactive map builder that allows you to create custom fantasy maps for children; you choose from one of four maps (which seems rather limited to me), which you customize with your own place names. Prices for… • Continue reading this entry.
Okay, brace yourselves: a cross-stitched map of the video game The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. Via Boing Boing…. • Continue reading this entry.
Frans Blok has been imagining maps of a future, terraformed Mars. He writes, “Almost ten years ago I made this map of Kim Stanley Robinson’s Mars. Recently I created a more sophisticated visualisation of a terraformed Mars, although no… • Continue reading this entry.
Fantasy Cartography is a blog that reprints scans of maps from science fiction and fantasy novels, as well as role-playing and computer games. The archives are quite extensive. Via La Cartoteca…. • Continue reading this entry.
Try to find a fantasy novel without a map; but what about what we science-fiction and fantasy enthusiasts call “mainstream” fiction? “My undergrad thesis argued that world-building wasn’t just for fantasy and sci-fi writers — every tale has a setting,… • Continue reading this entry.
Another online forum about maps — The Cartographers’ Guild — with a decided focus on fictional maps. The Cartographers’ Guild is a forum created by and for map makers and aficionados, a place where every aspect of cartography can be… • Continue reading this entry.
The Fantasy Atlas is a German-language collection of maps from various fantasy (and some science fiction) novels. That there are so many entries speaks to the fact that it’s virtually impossible nowadays to write a fantasy novel without creating a… • Continue reading this entry.
Strange Maps is a relatively new blog about maps with a taste for the hypothetical, the fictional and the unusual. Via Cartography…. • Continue reading this entry.
Storybook England is an interactive map to the locations associated with children’s literature, whether as fictionalized setting or behind the scenes. Briefly mentioned in the New York Times, which article promises a downloadable map, link to which downloadable map generates… • Continue reading this entry.
Between November 2 and January 27, there will be a maps exhibit at the Field Museum in Chicago. Not many details yet, except that it’s called “Maps! The History of Cartography” and it’s co-sponsored by the Newberry Library — and… • Continue reading this entry.
Garmt de Vries’s Jules Verne Collection has several pages of interest to us: The Maps from the Voyages Extraordinaires, a collection of scans from the original (French) editions of Jules Verne’s novel (Verne apparently didn’t invent a geography for… • Continue reading this entry.
Science fiction writers frequently create maps of the worlds they create for their stories; one of Robert J. Sawyer’s fans turned around and made him a globe from those maps. From his blog: “A fellow named Patrick J. O’Connor,… • Continue reading this entry.
Tony Straka is looking for a way of creating maps of imaginary places with open-source web mapping tools. He writes, “One thing I have searched for is fictional maps created with one of these programs and I cannot seem to… • Continue reading this entry.
The Middle-earth DEM Project is, writes Carl Lingard, “a non-profit, hobbyists’ project devoted to mapping Middle-earth as a fully georeferenced digital elevation model and topographic map (using Google Earth as one of its targets). We are also seeking to develop… • Continue reading this entry.
Today is Free Comic Book Day, in honour of which, here is the Marvel Atlas Project, an online attempt to map the locations of the Marvel comics universe. As it turns out, Dr. Doom’s Latveria is in the Balkans. Via… • Continue reading this entry.
This map of the Star Wars galaxy (or, in insiders’ lingo, the Galaxy Far, Far Away or GFFA) is probably not “canon” (i.e., official), but it’s sort of interesting anyway. Via Cartography, who didn’t think much of it…. • Continue reading this entry.
This interactive map of Narnia, a tie-in with the upcoming movie The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, is actually quite good: it’s a compilation of material from several Narnia books (specifically, Prince Caspian and The Silver Chair) and adds… • Continue reading this entry.
The Map Realm: The Fictional Road Maps of Adrian Leskiw is a marvellous collection of hand-drawn and digitally made highway maps of non-existent places conjured straight from Adrian’s imagination. I love this stuff. I used to draw maps of… • Continue reading this entry.
Back in April, Randy Cohen solicited submissions from readers of the New York Times Book Review for a literary map of Manhattan (see previous entry). That map is now online as scheduled, and it’s well done: interactive, with lots of… • Continue reading this entry.
Randy Cohen in the New York Times Sunday Book Review (free registration required): “I propose to create, with the help of the Book Review’s readers, a literary map of Manhattan — not of its authors’ haunts but those of their… • Continue reading this entry.
Those interested in computer game maps (see previous entry) should take note of WoWmapview, a map viewer for World of Warcraft: “It uses the data files included with the game to display the 3D game world, which you can explore… • Continue reading this entry.
Karen Wynn Fonstad, the freelance cartographer who authored atlases of Middle-earth, Dragonlance and other fantasy worlds, died March 11 of complications from breast cancer. She was 59. This Toronto Sun article from 2002 reviews her best-known work, The Atlas of… • Continue reading this entry.
This page on the differences between editions of Richard Adams’s Watership Down also has scans of the different editions’ maps (the 1972 original hardback had something that looks like a UTM grid; the 1973 Puffin paperback had a more traditional… • Continue reading this entry.
Since The Map Room started at the end of March 2003, the about page has said, “from medieval Mappæ Mundi to satellite imagery, and from topo maps to Tolkien.” I’ve done posts on all of these subjects save one: I’ve… • Continue reading this entry.
The Philadelphia Print Shop has a page on mythical geography in antique maps: Illusions, Confusions and Delusions. Old maps are filled with inaccuracies — rivers running a wrong course, cities placed incorrectly, coastlines lacking bays, and mountains, lakes and islands… • Continue reading this entry.
Jeff Patterson writes in to point to a map of the planet Mongo (187 KB JPEG). You pathetic earthling…. • Continue reading this entry.
William Hope Hodgson’s The Night Land, published in 1912, is apparently a cult classic, with the usual fan-generated materials, including, notably (else why I would I mention?), maps. Jeff Patterson writes to point us to this page, which he describes… • Continue reading this entry.
Stephen King’s official web site has a map of Maine that includes the fictional towns — like Castle Rock and Derry — from his works. It’s a popup from the Miscellany page…. • Continue reading this entry.
“The Online Video Game Atlas is a site made for video game maps. This site is made possible by gamers who rip or draw maps and contribute them here for others to view.”… • Continue reading this entry.