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]
Last month the New York Times mapped the U.S. cultural divide by looking at television viewing preferences. More precisely, the geographic distribution of viewership for the 50 most-liked TV shows. The correlation between Duck Dynasty fandom and voting for Trump was higher than for any other show. More surprisingly, the show most correlated with voting for Clinton? Family Guy.
This month marks Star Trek’s 50th anniversary, so I thought it might be worth it to put together a little post about maps in Star Trek. This proved to be more fraught a subject than I expected. There are a lot of maps of the Star Trek universe out there by divers hands, some more official than others, and they don’t always agree on all points, as Sufficient Velocity forum member WhiteDragon25 griped in 2014:
Despite so many planets, stars, systems, and other locations that were mentioned and referenced to throughout the entire franchise’s run, we’ve never got an official and fully accurate map of the Trek universe. […] Hell, for all of the Star Wars EU’s faults, at least it managed to generate a universally accepted map! Star Trek on the other hand, despite being just as popular as Star Wars, cannot even figure out the sizes and positions of the Feds, the Romulans, and the Klingons in relation to one another!
WhiteDragon25 might be overstating things a bit: most of the maps have the Star Trek major powers in the same relative position (other empires like the Tholians are another matter). But the point remains. While original series canon assigned aliens to known nearby stars, and the shows occasionally used real locations (e.g. Wolf 359), episode writers did not start with a map and generally did not take spatial relationships into consideration, which no doubt has made the belated mapping process a bit more challenging.
In print form, the earliest map I’m aware of is Star Trek Maps (1980), which according to Memory Alpha was a pair of double-sided map posters accompanied by a fairly mathy booklet; of course, the Star Trek universe was a lot smaller then. Star Trek: Star Charts came out in 2002 and seems to be considered the most canonical of the maps in existence; it’s out of print now, though. Star Trek: Stellar Cartography (2013), a collection of ten 24″×36″ folded maps. (Note that I haven’t seen any of these maps.)
Online, Star Trek Dimension’s Cartography section has maps from the series as well as Christian Rühl’s Galactic Atlas. StarTrekMap.com, a fan site that appears to be based on Star Trek: Star Charts, uses an in-universe interface that functions well (scroll wheel zooming!) but is awfully small on large screens. Neither has been updated in years. The Star Trek Online game also has, as you might expect, a map.
Last year a Doctor Who episode turned the concept of the trap street—a fictitious map feature designed to catch copyright violations—on its head. In the series nine episode “Face the Raven,” the Doctor looks for a London street that cannot be found on maps.
THE DOCTOR: But if the stories are true though, there should be a street in one of these old maps that no longer exists in the real world.
CLARA: Like a trap street, only not.
THE DOCTOR: What did you say?
CLARA: A trap street. You know, when someone’s making a map—a, um, cartographer—uses a fake street throws it into the mix, names it after one of his kids or whatever, then, if the fake street—the trap street—ever shows up on someone else’s map they know their work’s been stolen. Clever, right?
THE DOCTOR: My God! A whole London street just up and disappeared and you lot assume it’s a copyright infringement.
Unlike trap streets, the street exists, and the reason it has disappeared has nothing to do with cartographic copyright. Finding the street takes some doing, as this clip the BBC has made available recently shows; unfortunately, it takes place immediately after the bit I quoted above.
Next month sees the release of The Map Against the World, a Korean movie about cartographer Kim Jeong-ho, who in 1861 produced an enormous, detailed map of Korea called the Daedongyeojido. The movie stars Cha Seung-won as Kim and is directed by Kang Woo-suk. Here’s a trailer:
Coming in October from Zest Books: Andrew DeGraff’s Plotted: A Literary Atlas, a collection of the artist’s maps of fictional worlds. The Huffington Post has an interview with the author and sample pages from the book, from which we can get a sense both of DeGraff’s distinct and idiosyncratic artwork and the books he chose to make maps for. They’re not necessarily books you’d expect maps for (e.g., A Christmas Carol). These are maps of the stories—not, as we see in fantasy maps, of the stories’ setting—which means a completely different perspective that takes into account both time and distance travelled.