Jonathan Crowe

My Correct Views on Everything
↳ Maps

Fictional Maps International Conference

The Fictional Maps International Conference, an academic conference on the use of maps in fiction, will take place from January 21 to 23, 2016 at the University of Silesia’s Scientific Information Centre and Academic Library in Katowice, Poland. Stefan Ekman, the author of Here Be Dragons: Exploring Fantasy Maps and Settings (my review), is the keynote speaker. Deadline for submitting abstracts is October 30.

If you’ve been following along, you will instantly understand that this is very much relevant to my interests, and though it’s been an awfully long time since I’ve been in academic mode, I might have to figure out a way to go to this.

Plotted: A Literary Atlas

Book cover: Plotted: A Literary Atlas 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.

Pre-order Plotted: A Literary Atlas at Amazon.

Bellerby’s Hand-Painted Globes

Bellerby & Co: 80cm globe with added illustrations & bespoke cartography including larger font

Bellerby & Co. produces gorgeous hand-made, hand-painted globes. Peter Bellerby started the company six years ago — he wanted to make a globe for his father for his birthday, but got a bit carried away. Very much a luxury product: the least expensive item I could find in their catalogue was £999, and the higher-end and custom globes climb well into five figures. Not, in other words, comparable to Replogle’s product line.

Interesting behind-the-scenes photos at their Instagram account; see also their YouTube channel. Via Kottke.

More about globes in The Map Room’s archives.

And in Google Maps News …

Google’s Map Maker is in the process of reopening, with six countries reopening on August 10 and another 45 countries last Monday. Map Maker, Google’s tool allowing users to make changes to Google Maps, was suspended last May after some embarrassing edits came to light. Regional leads are now in place to review user edits before they go live on the map.

If mapcodes and other geographical shortcodes aren’t Googly enough for you, take a look at Open Location Codes, a Google-developed, open-sourced project. Generated algorithmically rather than with data tables. Announced for developers last April, they can now be used in Google Maps searches.

New Maps of Ceres and Pluto

Global Map of Pluto

As I predicted, a new global map of Pluto has been released that incorporates the imagery that has been downlinked so far from the New Horizons flyby: with gridlines, without gridlines. If nothing else, the equatorial projection demonstrates how much of Pluto’s surface was not seen during the very brief encounter. From what I understand, imagery downlinks will resume in September and carry on for another year, so this map will almost certainly see many more updates.

Meanwhile, Ceres also has some new maps.

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Three Books on WWII Maps

  1. Great Escapes: The Story of MI9’s Second World War Escape and Evasion Maps by Barbara Bond (Times Books, October 2015): history of the escape maps produced for prisoners of war. Pre-order at Amazon (Canada, U.K.).
  2. Mapping the Second World War by Peter Chasseaud (Collins, October 2015): a collection of historical maps; follow-up to Chasseaud’s 2013 book Mapping the First World War. Pre-order at Amazon (Canada, U.K.).

  3. Mapping the Second World War: The Key Battles of the European Theatre from Above by Michael Swift and Michael Sharpe (Conway Maritime Press, November 2014). Buy at Amazon (Canada, U.K.).

Previously: Two Books on WWI Maps.

History of Cartography Project’s Sixth Volume Now Out

History of Cartography Volume 6 (book covers)

The sixth volume of the massive History of Cartography Project, Cartography in the Twentieth Century, is now available. Edited by Mark Monmonier, it takes two physical volumes and nearly two thousand pages to cover mapmaking in the twentieth century — and lists for an eye-popping $500 (U.S.), though it’s a bit cheaper on Amazon.

Volumes one through three are available for free download. Volumes four and five, covering the European Enlightenment and the nineteenth century, respectively, are still in development.

Buy at Amazon (Canada, U.K.)

Previously: History of Cartography Project Co-Founder Dies.

Mapcodes

The New Yorker’s Elements blog has a piece about mapcodes. These are short alphanumeric codes assigned to every location on the planet, with short codes reserved for areas of high population density. It’s meant to be a substitute for latitude and longitude, and aimed at parts of the world where there are no formal addresses (which makes directions somewhat interesting): give someone a mapcode, and you’re giving them a very precise location.

The Peace Tower in Ottawa, for example, has an Ontario mapcode of 09W.YK (mapcodes exist within country and state/provincial contexts).

The main problem, as I see it, is that while the Mapcode Foundation is trying to make mapcodes a standard, it still relies on data tables to produce the code, which is to say that there’s some computational overhead. Whereas something like Universal Transverse Mercator coordinates can be derived from topo maps (which have UTM grids on them).

The Best Map of Pluto Ever (Until Some Time Later This Month)

New Horizons Map of Pluto

The New Horizons spacecraft’s rendezvous with Pluto is next week, folks, but we’re already getting better views of our favourite dwarf planet than we’ve ever had before. NASA has assembled images taken between June 27 and July 3 into the above map, which despite its relatively low resolution shows some intriguing surface features: the so-called “whale” and “donut.” (Of course, low resolution is relative: this is already much better than the Hubble-based maps of Pluto released in 2005 and 2010.) Image credit: NASA-JHUAPL-SWRI.

Robert Lazzaretti, Fantasy Mapmaker

Lou Anders interviews fantasy mapmaker Robert Lazzaretti, who drew the maps for Anders’s Thrones and Bones series (Frostborn, Nightborn). I can never get enough information about the process of making fantasy maps.

Previously: Mapping An Ember in the Ashes; How to Make a Fantasy Map.

RIP Yahoo Maps

Citing changing priorities, Yahoo announced today that Yahoo Maps is among the products that it will be shutting down; it’ll go dark at the end of this month. “However,” says Yahoo chief architect Amotz Maimon, “in the context of Yahoo search and on several other Yahoo properties including Flickr, we will continue to support maps.” Business Insider, TechCrunch, VentureBeat.

For a few years Yahoo Maps got frequent upgrades and improvements. The current map platform launched in May 2007; it replaced a Flash-based map engine that first debuted as a beta in November 2005 and became the default map a year later, replacing an even older map service that, if my memory serves, was like the pre-Google Maps MapQuest. Since then Yahoo Maps has stagnated — but for a while there, before Google Maps became the dominant juggernaut it is today, it could have been a contender.

Mapping the California Sea Floor

Colored Shaded-Relief Bathymetry Offshore of San Francisco, California

The USGS’s California Seafloor Mapping Program has produced a set of insanely detailed maps of the sea floor along the California coast. Downloadable as rather hefty PDF files; the map sheets are three feet across as paper maps. Above, a detail from the shaded-relief bathymetry map of the San Francisco area. Boing Boing, Wired.

Mapping An Ember in the Ashes

Jonathan Roberts's map for An Ember in the Ashes

The fantasy cartographer Jonathan Roberts has a blog post, reprinted at Tor.com, that shows some of the steps involved in creating the map for Sabaa Tahir’s novel An Ember in the Ashes.

I sometimes get asked how to do a fantasy map. I’m the wrong person to ask, because I’m basically a fantasy map critic, not a working illustrator. What the people asking me this question want is an instruction manual for the standard fantasy map, and for that, Roberts is their man, because he’s an actual illustrator. He does operate within the dominant fantasy map paradigm I often critique (though with a good deal more colour and texture than the standard line drawing), but he does it very well, and more importantly shares his methods. Roberts’s blog is full of interesting material on how he goes about creating fantasy maps: see for example this tutorial.

Google Apologizes for Offensive Map Search Results

Google Maps had to apologize again last week, this time because searching for racist terms gave results like the White House and Howard University. The results were derived from online discussions: idiots using an offensive term to describe a place associated the term with the place in Google’s search algorithms. Google says it’s changing the algorithm to fix the problem (because algorithms are to Google what procedures are to bureaucracies — the source of, and solution to, all life’s problems). Boing Boing, Engadget.

Previously: Google Map Maker Program Suspended.

Clichéa

Clichéa

A Redditor called Sarithus has created a map of Clichéa, “a map based on fantasy tropes that also pokes a little fun at unoriginal map makers.” Like others of its kind, it hearkens back, probably undeliberately, to early modern maps of Cockaigne and Schlaraffenland and other satirical maps. Cartographer’s Guild thread, Reddit thread.

Previously: The Only Fantasy World Map You’ll Ever Need.

Google Map Maker Program Suspended

Google is temporarily suspending Map Maker, its tool allowing user contributions to Google Maps, until they fix their edit moderation system. Auto-approvals of map edits had been suspended in the wake of the notorious and high-profile edits to the map near Rawalpindi; since then edits to the map have required manual approval, which has created a massive backlog. “We believe that it is more fair to only say that if we do not have the capacity to review edits at roughly the rate they come in, we have to take a pause.” Via The Verge.

Previously: Google Maps Edits Cause Embarrassment; A Google Map Maker Roundup.

Historical Highway Maps of Manitoba

Detail from the 1966-1967 Official Highway Map of Manitoba

While looking for something else, I stumbled across the Manitoba Infrastructure and Transportation Ministry’s Historical Highway Maps of Manitoba site: a collection of PDF scans of dozens of highway maps of the province. The earliest is a 1926 map produced by the Winnipeg Tourist and Convention Bureau; the most recent is the B version of the 2010 Official Highway Map. Collectively they trace the development of the province’s road network: I got so very lost in this site watching the road network change from year to year — just as I did as a child, when I studied each new edition to see what had changed from the previous year. This is a weapons-grade hit of nostalgia for me.

Above, a detail from the 1966-1967 map, the first to use the style of map that I was familar with growing up in the 1970s.

Previously: Manitoba Historical Maps.

Google Maps Edits Cause Embarrassment

Some embarrassment for Google Maps last week, as they were forced to apologize for an image of the Android mascot peeing on an Apple logo that turned up on the map near Rawalpindi in Pakistan. To say nothing of the phrase “Google review policy is crap” etched into nearby Takht Pari Forest. Both have since been removed. Boing Boing, the Guardian, The Verge.

To be fair to Google, crowdsourcing map data does have its pitfalls: OpenStreetMap has to deal with this sort of thing all the time. You have to have something in place to deal with bad-faith edits. None of the edits I’ve made to Google Maps went through without someone reviewing them, so I’m surprised that this could happen. That said, when you need your map updated fast (such as during natural disasters like yesterday’s earthquake in Nepal), it’s hard to beat crowdsourcing.

As always, it’s important to keep in mind that all online maps have their shortcomings.

Map of Canada Changes Depiction of Arctic Sea Ice

Map of Canada

The federal government’s new map of Canada, part of the Atlas of Canada reference series, came out this week. Among the changes between it and its predecessor (which came out in 2006), one in particular is drawing attention. Ivan Semeniuk in the Globe and Mail:

Whereas the older version of the map showed only that part of the sea ice that permanently covered Arctic waters year round at that time, the new edition uses a 30-year median of September sea-ice extent from 1981 through 2010. September sea ice hit a record low in 2012 and is projected to decline further. The change means there is far more ice shown on the 2015 version of the map than on its predecessor.

The changes can be seen below: the 2006 map is on the left, the 2015 map on the right.

Differences in sea ice between 2006 and 2015 maps of Canada

Now as Semeniuk’s piece points out, neither way is wrong. But all maps have a point of view, and it’s naive to think that this change was made in a value-neutral environment: this was the result of a conscious decision. The reason for that decision — that’s what’s interesting.

New Moon Maps

Topographic Map of the Moon (Hare et al.)

Two stunning maps of the Moon have been released by the USGS, both based on data collected by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter: one an image mosaic assembled from visual imagery, the other (above) a colour-coded topographical map derived from laser altimeter data. Via io9.

Space Maps: Ceres, Mars, Exoplanets

Mars: Ares Vallis

Unruly Places (Off the Map)

Book cover: Unruly Places Alastair Bonnett’s Unruly Places (first published in the U.K. as Off the Map) is a light, entertaining exploration of some of the world’s more unusual places. Bonnett, a social geography professor at Newcastle University, has written 47 short essays about locations that, in the grand scheme of things, don’t make any sense: the exceptions, the asterisks, the ink blots (in at least one case literally) on the map.

These range from the deeply frivolous to the profoundly injust: from bits and pieces of New York City transformed into environmental time capsules and art projects to places meaningful to the author; from rendition sites and pirate bases to Bedouin settlements in the Israeli Negev desert; from destroyed landscapes to Potemkin cities. The places often feel almost science-fictional; and in fact several of them evoked settings in existing science fiction works, like Christopher Priest’s Dream Archipelago and Maureen McHugh’s Nekropolis.

All in all, a pleasant diversion for the geographically minded, though I did have one quibble: the book calling latitude and longitude “Google Earth coordinates,” as though degrees are as proprietary as limited to the KML format.

Unruly Places: Lost Spaces, Secret Cities, and Other Inscrutable Geographies
by Alastair Bonnett
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt/Viking Canada, July 2014
Buy at Amazon: Canada, U.S. | Kindle: Canada, U.S.

Off the Map: Lost Spaces, Invisible Cities, Forgotten Islands, Feral Places and What They Tell Us About the World
Aurum Press, April 2014
Buy at Amazon UK | Kindle

Emily Garfield’s Map Art

Emily Garfield: Branching Networks (Cityspace #178)

Emily Garfield’s art is a pen-and-watercolour exercise in the cartography of imaginary places. Her drawings “are inspired by the visual language of maps, as well as the fractal similarity that cities share with biological processes such as the patterns of cells and neurons.” Above: “Branching Networks (Cityspace #178).”

Map Anniversaries

Apollo 14: Mitchell Studies Map

Google Maps turned 10 years old on Sunday — a milestone observed by Samuel Gibbs in the Guardian. See also Liz Gannes’s retrospective at Re/Code. My reaction on launch day was pretty effusive — I was blown away mainly by the user interface. But it wasn’t immediately dominant: it took roughly four years for Google to surpass MapQuest in traffic.

Meanwhile, the Pro version of Google Earth, which used to cost $400/year, is now free. Google Earth itself launched in June 2005, so is approaching its own 10-year anniversary, but it began its existence a few years earlier as Keyhole EarthViewer 3D.

Speaking of map anniversaries, National Geographic Maps is marking its centennial.

The photo above marks another anniversary: It shows Apollo 14 astronaut Ed Mitchell consulting a map during his second lunar EVA on February 6, 1971. Apollo 14 returned to Earth 44 years ago yesterday.

Daniel Reeve, Film Cartographer

Someone was responsible for the maps developed for the film adaptations of The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit and other movies (on-screen and in promotional materials), and that someone is Daniel Reeve, a freelance artist who also did a lot of the letterwork and calligraphy. Via Boing Boing.

Atlas of Canada

Book cover: Atlas of Canada I only just now found out about the new edition of Canadian Geographic’s Atlas of Canada — via an item broadcast on CTV yesterday — or I would have included it in this year’s gift guide. It’s apparently the first new edition in a decade. (Incidentally this should not be confused with the Canadian government’s online Atlas of Canada, an entirely distinct beast.)

The Patterson Projection

Patterson Projection

Map projections are inherently interesting, and also a great way to start a fight among a group of cartographers: just ask them their favourite and step back. Everyone has their preferred projection, me included, that fits their own needs and aesthetic. Cartographer Tom Patterson, whose work I’ve featured previously on The Map Room, has added another projection to the mix, the eponymous Patterson Projection, a cylindrical projection which “falls between the popular Miller 1, which excessively exaggerates the size of polar areas, and the Plate Carrée, which compressess the north-south dimension of mid latitudes.” It looks like a compromise projection in cylindrical form. A full article on the design and development of the projection is forthcoming at the link.

Previously: Shaded Relief World Map and Flex Projector; New, Free Physical Map of the United States; Shaded Relief.

Geologic Maps of Vesta

Geologic map of Vesta

Geologic maps of Vesta, the asteroid visited by the Dawn spacecraft between July 2011 and September 2012, have been produced for a special issue of the planetary science journal Icarus. Above, a global geologic map of Vesta, compiled from 15 individual quad maps and using a Mollweide projection (Vesta itself is decidedly non-spheroid, but still). Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU.

Previously: Atlas of Vesta.

Sorol

Sorol world map

Another one for those of you who like geofiction as much as I do. The Sorolpedia is an online encyclopedia of the distant and fictional world of Sorol, containing articles about the planet and its inhabitants. The maps are something else: far better than you’d expect from such a project (there’s even a KML file to import it into Google Earth). Its creator has put it on indefinite hiatus since 2010, so we may not see any more updates, but it’s still fascinating stuff.

Gift Guide: 10 Map Books of 2014

Every year, at about this time of year, I assemble a gift guide listing some of the noteworthy books about maps that have been published over the previous year. This list is by no means comprehensive, but if you have a map-obsessed person in your life and you’d like to give that person a map-related gift, this list might give you some ideas.

This year’s list includes several lavishly illustrated histories of maps and globes, interesting reads about map thieves and forgotten places, an a couple of guides to map art and personal mapmaking.

Once again, books bought through these Amazon affiliate links (routed to what my web server thinks is your nearest English-language Amazon store) make me a little money. Thanks for your support.

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Older Entries

Moon and Comet Maps
Fantasy Maps of U.S. Cities
Geologic Map of Mars
Mapping It Out
My Readercon 25 Schedule
Finding Longitude
OpenGeofiction
Mapping Gotham
Review: The Map Thief
Four More Map Stories
Game of Thrones Map Marker Set
A Book About the Forbes Smiley Affair
The Only Fantasy World Map You’ll Ever Need
Importing CanVec Data into OpenStreetMap
Art and Personal Mapmaking
The Geology of ‘Game of Thrones’
Unlikely Cartography ToC
Trap Street, the Movie
Ganymede and Mercury
A Map of U.S. Intercity Bus and Train Routes
A Book About Globes
Mapping How Much Snow Cancels School
Two More Map Books
The New Yorker on Maps and Literature
More Map Books
Review: A History of the World in Twelve Maps
Earth Wind Map
The Journal of Unlikely Cartography
Unfathomable City
Review: Barrington Atlas iPad App
How to Make a Fantasy Map
Earth from Space
The United Watershed States of America
Maps of Mercury
Two Detailed Rail Maps
The Barrington Atlas Comes to the iPad
Two Books on WWI Maps
World of Equal Districts
Atlas of Vesta
Sea Monsters and the Carta Marina
My New Article on Fantasy Maps: ‘Here Be Blank Spaces’
Ian Silva’s Koana Islands
The World on an Egg, circa 1504
Tube Map Live
Pluto’s Problematic Cartography
A Fantasy Map of Ireland
Wired Map Lab
Close Up at a Distance
Circular Subway Maps
A Fantasy Map of Great Britain
A Fantasy Map of Australia
The Mapmaker’s War
Map of Northern Biomass
Error Reporting in Apple Maps
Fantasy Maps Project Page Updated
Alberta Flood Maps
Herbal Earth
Review: Sea Monsters on Medieval and Renaissance Maps
Map of All American Rivers
Apple Maps on the Mac
Review: Here Be Dragons
The Sixteenth-Century Origins of Fantasy Maps
Mapping Antarctica’s Bedrock
A Renaissance Globemaker’s Toolbox
Review: The Art of the Map
New Google Maps: First Impressions
My Own Private Westeros
Here Be Sea Monsters
A Topographic Map of Titan
Google Maps Redesigned
OpenStreetMap’s New Map Editor
Fictional Worlds Map-Making Competition
The KickMap Comes to London
Mapping Manhattan
The World According to Illustrators and Storytellers
All Online Maps Suck
The Imaginarium Geographica
Fifty Equal States Redux
Lunar Gravity Map
Ankh-Morpork on the iPad
The Book of Thomas: Volume One: Heaven
Review: On the Map
Saladin Ahmed on Secondary World Fantasy
Laser-Cut Wood Bathymetric Charts
Laconic History of the World
The Onion on Apple Maps
Census Dotmap
The Measure of Manhattan
Google Maps for iPhone
Antony Swithin’s Rockall
Review: The Lands of Ice and Fire
Jeffrey Beebe’s Refractoria
Let Maps to Others
Nokia’s Here Maps App
The World Fantasy Map Panel
Now Out: The Lands of Ice and Fire
Apple-Google Maps Kremlinology
A World Without Spin
Apple, Google and China: iOS Maps
Roger Zelazny’s Here There Be Dragons
iOS 6 Maps: First Impressions and More Links
iOS Maps: More Reactions and Analysis
Reactions to Apple’s Maps
On the Map: A New Book from Simon Garfield
Early Reviews of iOS 6 Maps
Soundings: A Biography of Marie Tharp
Ground Truthing Google Maps
Dung Kai-cheung’s Atlas
Mapping Infinite Jest
Mapping Hurricane Tracks
Maps of Songs and Films
Mapping the Nation
Kate Elliott on Fantasy Maps
Waldseemüller Globe Gore Found
Mapping the Heat Wave
A Scholarly Work on Fantasy Maps
Apple Replaces Google Maps on iOS
Mapping Tornado Tracks
Map of a Nation
Apple to Abandon Google Maps in iOS 6?
Does a Map Reveal Roanoke’s Fate?
U.S. Life Expectancy by County
New Moon Globe Released
El Viaje de Argos
The Lands of Ice and Fire: Westeros Atlas Coming in October
Wonderful Wind Map
OpenStreetMap in Watercolour
Perpetual Ocean
19th-Century Children’s Maps
Geologic Map of Io
Old Maps Online
A Fantasy Map of the U.S.
Atlas of the Galilean Satellites
More Moon Maps
An Ancient Map of the Mesopotamian World
How Readers Use Fantasy Maps
‘The Maps We Wandered Into as Kids’
Four Map Stories
A Map of Rising Global Temperatures
Personal Geographies
Historical Atlas of Washington and Oregon
A New Lunar Topo Map
Maphead
Gift Guide: Map Books of 2011
Hubris and the Times Comprehensive Atlas
Map Books for Fall 2011
The Farthing Party Map Panel
Maps in Science Fiction and Fantasy
Jerry’s Map
OpenStreetMap in Ottawa
SF Signal on Fantasy Maps
When Mapping Gets You Arrested