Before we’re completely out of the holiday season, I should mention that one of the 34 Christmas movies premiering on the Lifetime network just this year is relevant to our interests: Maps and Mistletoe,1 which premiered on the channel on 13 December. “Emilia Martin (Humberly González), a cartographer of school maps, has plans for a cozy Christmas at home until her boss has a last-minute project for her, designing a novelty treasure map of the North Pole. Emilia decides to seek out the expertise of North Pole explorer Drew Campbell (Ronnie Rowe), who reluctantly agrees to help her. As the two work closely, they discover more than either of them ever expected.” Not going to yuck what might be someone else’s yum. [MAPS-L]
If you subscribe to Disney+, check out the 10th episode of Disney Insider, which dropped yesterday: its first segment looks at how National Geographic Maps produces its trail maps. The talking is done by National Geographic’s director of cartographic production, David Lambert. I can’t help but be reminded of those old newsreels that talked about map production; this is kind of that, only with really good production values.
Our NatGeo Maps office here in Colorado was featured on Disney+’s Disney Insider show episode 10 that dropped today! Watch 0:47-7:15 to see our boss talking about what we do! 🏞🥾 My 7-second, focused-cartographer 🤓🗺 cameo starts at 2:30! pic.twitter.com/p49B6Z1NfY
— Aly D. Ollivierre, MSc, GISP (@AlyD_VT) December 8, 2021
This 1930s map has made the rounds—it claims to show the global locations that various sites in California could plausibly represent on screen, and swaps the place-names accordingly (e.g. the Sierras can play the French Alps) [thread] pic.twitter.com/lVmYjWYyi6
— Patrick Ellis (@aeroscopics) November 27, 2021
In the above Twitter thread, and in a new article in Film History: An International Journal, Patrick Ellis looks at the several maps of California that portray it as being able to stand in for locations around the world. It’s more than just location scouting for film shoots (though it very much is that); it’s also about marketing for in-state tourism. (The article is paywalled.)
BBC Four is rebroadcasting The Beauty of Maps, a four-episode series that coincided with the 2010 Magnificent Maps exhibition at the British Library. Two episodes broadcast so far, with the third this evening and the fourth tomorrow. They’ll be on iPlayer for the next month.
Meanwhile, the British Library’s 2016 Maps and the 20th Century exhibition (previously) is now available in virtual form—as in, you can “walk” through a virtual recreation of the physical exhibition. Articles related to the exhibition are available here, and of course the companion volume, Maps and the 20th Century: Drawing the Line, edited by Tom Harper, is still available: Amazon (Canada, UK), Bookshop.
CBC News explores how the production team for the First World War epic 1917 consulted McMaster University’s collection of trench maps and aerial photography to produce an authentic replica of a situation map for the movie. The map they used, incidentally, is this one, a situation map showing British and German troop positions around Monchy-le-Preux on 24 April 1917:
I’ve seen a lot of nostalgic pieces about paper maps and the advent of digital maps (here’s another one) that they’re almost not worth mentioning. But this piece about TV weather maps—specifically, bemoaning the loss of physical weather maps on which presenters “slapped magnetic clouds on to paper cutouts” and their replacement by computer and satellite imagery—is too, ah, much to ignore.
From a certain point of view, The Force Awakens is the story of how a rare and valuable map was kept out of the hands of an unscrupulous and extremely motivated collector. While a map served as the MacGuffin of Episode 7, maps of the Star Wars universe have been a thing for a while, at least in terms of supporting material.
According to this 2015 article on the Star Wars website about the history of maps of the Galaxy Far, Far Away, the first official map was produced in 1998. Since then the Star Wars galaxy’s map has been surprisingly consistent despite the addition of a huge amount of material (movies, TV shows, ancillary books and comics) and the canon shift that took place when Disney bought Lucasfilm: older maps—such as fan websites like Modi’s or W. R. van Hage’s, or the 2009 Star Wars: The Essential Atlas (updated with online appendices)—may not include planets that appear in later movies and TV shows (e.g., Jakku, Scarif or Lothal), but what does appear stays in the same place from map to map (i.e., Tatooine and Coruscant are in the same place). Jason Fry’s System Database keeps track of things.
The most up-to-date map I’ve been able to find is Henry Bernberg’s interactive Star Wars Galaxy Map, which has several advantages. Built using ArcGIS—he’s a GIS professional—and hosted using Carto, it has toggleable layers and is searchable (many maps online are simple images, which is tricky when you’re looking for a specific planet). It is, in other words, a useable map, which is a rare thing in science fiction and fantasy, and almost essential when dealing with an imaginary universe of Star Wars’ size.
Londonist’s Fake Britain map: “We’ve put together a map of fictional locations from film, TV, literature and other sources. Take a look around this alternative nation and see how many places you recognise. From Judge Dredd to Vanity Fair, it’s all here.
“The vast majority of entries are well defined geographically. Some—such as Beanotown and Blackadder’s Dunny on the Wold—are a little more nebulous, but we’ve added them for fun. Hogwarts is an unmappable location (unless it’s a Marauder’s Map you’re looking at), but we’ve had a go anyway.”
They’re looking for additions and corrections to the map: this is a work in progress. [Scarfolk]
A new edition of Star Trek: Stellar Cartography is coming out in October, TrekCore reports. Like The Lands of Ice and Fire, it’s a collection of folded maps—10 of them, 24″×36″ in size—rather than a bound atlas. The new edition, authored by Larry Nemecek, corrects errors and typos and adds material from the various series, including season one of Discovery. (The first edition came out in 2013.)
Previously: Mapping Star Trek.
The Great Map of Movieland is a whimsical map that plots 1,800 movie titles on an imaginary terrain. Film genres appear as regions (Adventure Plains, Coming of Age Peninsula) and the films themselves appear as towns, with town size correlating to a film’s importance. (It’s a bit odd to see Star Wars and Star Trek in the Adventure Plains rather than the Sci-Fi Mountains, and I’m not sure what the significance of the highways are, nor why Casablanca and The Return of the King are right next to one another.) The brainchild of 31-year-old French designer David Honnorat, the map was a subject of a successful Kickstarter campaign last fall and is now available, via David’s store, as a 26×36″ print; the price is €40. [Boing Boing]
Writing for the Globe and Mail, Charlotte Grey reviews two recent Canadian books about mapmaking and mapmakers, both of which came out last month: Adam Shoalts’s History of Canada in Ten Maps (which I reviewed here last month) and Barbara Mitchell’s Mapmaker: Philip Turnor in Rupert’s Land in the Age of Enlightenment. Mitchell and her book also get local-author coverage from kawarthaNOW.
Meanwhile, All Over the Map’s coverage of The Red Atlas continues with this look at Soviet posters used to train cartographers.
Geographical magazine reviews The Red Atlas, the survey of Soviet-era topo maps of the world by John Davies and Alexander J. Kent out this month from University of Chicago Press. National Geographic’s All Over the Map blog also has a feature on The Red Atlas. I’ve received my own review copy of The Red Atlas and hope to have a review for you … at some point (I’m rather backlogged).
Meanwhile, Geographical also has a review of Alastair Bonnett’s latest book of geographical idiosyncracies, Beyond the Map, and All Over the Map takes a look at Andrew DeGraff’s book mapping movie plotlines, Cinemaps.
It’s a busy month for map book publishing; so far I’m aware of eight map-related book (many of them scholarly monographs) seeing print in October.
- New Views: The World Mapped Like Never Before by Alastair Bonnett (Aurum Press, 26 October). Collects 50 “unique and beautiful” maps of our world. [Amazon]
- Mapping Naval Warfare: A Visual History of Conflict at Sea by Jeremy Black (Osprey, 24 October). Examines original maps of naval battles and explores how battles represented through mapping. [Amazon]
- The Red Atlas: How the Soviet Union Secretly Mapped the World by John Davies and Alex Kent (University of Chicago Press, 17 October). A look at the Soviet Army’s detailed global topogramical mapmaking program. My blog post. [Amazon]
- Cinemaps: An Atlas of 35 Great Movies by Andrew DeGraff and A. D. Jameson (Quirk, 24 October). A follow-up to Plotted, this time DeGraff turns his unique cartographic hand to movies. [Amazon, iBooks]
- Remapping Modern Germany after National Socialism, 1945-1961 by Matthew D. Mingus (Syracuse University Press, 5 October). Academic study of how maps were used to reshape postwar German identity. [Amazon]
- Mapmaker: Philip Turnor in Rupert’s Land in the Age of Enlightenment by Barbara Mitchell (University of Regina Press, 7 October). Biography of the Hudson’s Bay Company’s first inland surveyor. [Amazon]
- Terrestrial Lessons: The Conquest of the World as Globe by Sumathi Ramaswarmy (University of Chicago Press, 3 Oct0ber). The history and impact of the globe in colonial India. [Amazon]
- A History of Canada in Ten Maps by Adam Shoalts (Allen Lane, 10 October). Despite the title, a popular history of Canada’s exploration rather than cartography. Look for my review next week. [Amazon, iBooks]
Related: Map Books of 2017.
A Turkish filmmaker is working on a documentary about the life of Ottoman admiral and mapmaker Piri Reis, whose 1513 portolan chart, a fragment of which was rediscovered in 1929, claimed to draw upon ancient and contemporary sources, including Columbus. According to the Doğan News Agency story, the 75-minute film “will feature dramatic reconstructions starring actor Mehmet Günsur as Piri Reis, Riccardo Scamarcio as Christopher Columbus and actress Deniz Özdoğan. Can Atill will reportedly compose the music for the film.” If you can read Turkish, the website of the filmmaker, Gülsah Çeliker, is here; the movie’s website is here. The documentary is supposed to be finished by the end of the year. [WMS]