Jonathan Crowe

I’m a blogger and writer from Shawville, Quebec. I blog about maps at The Map Room, review books for AE: The Canadian Science Fiction Review, and edit a fanzine called Ecdysis. More about me.

Fantasy Maps

Critical Works on Fantasy Maps
Articles, blog posts and critical essays discussing the use of maps in fantasy literature.
Fantasy Map Collections
Collections of fantasy maps, both in print and online.
Fantasy Map Design
Why fantasy maps look the way they do.
Fiction About Maps
Where the map is the story.
History of Cartography
To understand how medieval and renaissance maps differ from modern fantasy maps.
Maps and the Creative Process
Writers’ accounts of how they used maps while writing.

Introduction

For more than eight years, I ran The Map Room, a blog about maps. During that time, I became increasingly interested in the use of maps in fantasy and science fiction, which I’ve been reading my entire life. I suspended that blog in June 2011, but I haven’t abandoned my interest in maps. In fact, it’s opened up an opportunity for more in-depth work that the routine of daily blogging didn’t really allow.

So I’ve started working on a research project that combines two obsessions: SF and fantasy, and maps. (Being able to do that is all kinds of awesome sauce.) The end result of this project might be a few semi-scholarly articles, convention presentations, and who knows what else. At the moment, I’m focusing on building up some knowledge.

I’m interested in the following questions:

  1. The history of map design in fantasy and science fiction literature: where does the classic fantasy novel map “look” come from, and how has it changed over time? (My working hypothesis is that current fantasy maps are the direct descendents of the work of children’s book illustrators like Pauline Baynes and E. H. Shepard.)

  2. A comparison of fantasy maps to their real-world equivalents: what, for example, do medieval maps look like compared to fantasy maps of a roughly analogous period? (So far, it seems that they have almost nothing in common with one another; a medieval map would probably be unrecognizable to a modern fantasy reader.)

  3. The use of maps within the stories themselves: as treasure maps, as portals, as symbols, as metaphors.

This page serves as the central hub for my studies. It’s constantly updated and revised as I Learn New Things. I’ll also post updates on my personal blog: see the Maps category.

In addition, the following category archives from The Map Room will be helpful: Imaginary Places, Fiction About Maps and, for an understanding of pre-modern maps, Antique Maps and History of Cartography.

Acknowledgements and Thanks

Marie Bilodeau, Lila Garrott, Angela Aftanas Griffin, Zvi Gilbert, David G. Hartwell, Kate Heartfield, Matthew Johnson, Marissa Lingen, Farah Mendlesohn, Emmet O’Brien, J. B. Post, Alison Sinclair, Michael Swanwick, Ren� Walling, Jo Walton, Dwight Williams.