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.
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/
Previously: Atlas of Vesta.
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.
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.
Maps of planets, moons and other objects in our solar system always get me excited, though truth be told they were among the less popular posts on my old Map Room blog. Here are a couple of rather colourful recent examples:
- Above left, a preliminary map of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, the subject of a visit by the Rosetta mission, that colour-codes several morphologically different regions.
- Above right, a topographical map of the Moon’s surface based on laser altimeter data from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter.
Image credits: ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/
For another example of using fantasy map design language to create real-world maps, here’s the work of geography professor Stentor Danielson, who draws maps of U.S. cities in the style of fantasy maps and sells them on Etsy. Boston, Cleveland (above), Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Washington are available. His Tumblr. Via io9.
As I said during the Q&A part of my fantasy maps presentation at Readercon (see previous entry), maps of other worlds in the solar system are usually images from space probes that have been set to a map projection. The key word is usually. On Monday the U.S. Geological Survey released a geologic map of Mars that “brings together observations and scientific findings from four orbiting spacecraft that have been acquiring data for more than 16 years.” Via io9 and Wired.
In Mapping It Out: An Alternative Atlas of Contemporary Cartographies, out now from Thames & Hudson, editor Hans Ulrich Obrist invited contributors “to create a personal map of their own, in whatever form and showing whatever terrain they choose, whether real-world or imaginary.” Examples of the results can be found on the websites of Design Week, FT Magazine and the Guardian; the New Yorker has posted an excerpt from Tom McCarthy’s introduction.
Major map exhibitions are frequently accompanied by lavishly illustrated books: London: A Life in Maps and the Magnificent Maps exhibitions had their eponymous books (London: A Life in Maps and Magnificent Maps), and the Chicago Festival of Maps was accompanied by Maps: Finding Our Place in the World.
No surprise, then, that “Ships, Clocks and Stars: The Quest for Longitude,” an exhibition opening at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich next month, also has its accompanying volume: it’s called Finding Longitude: How Clocks and Stars Helped Solve the Longitude Problem, and it comes out later this week. It’ll be interesting to see how this complements Dava Sobel’s Longitude, a short history of the Longitude Prize and Harrison’s chronometers (my review).
I love geofiction — creating imaginary worlds through maps — and OpenGeofiction is something I’ve wanted to see for a long time: a collaborative map of an imaginary world that is built with OpenStreetMap’s editing tools. The world is divided into territories, some of which any member can edit, others that are assigned to individual members (after a waiting period). More info here.
I’ve been playing with it and am already nervous about the amount of time I can see myself losing to this. (Though one wrinkle is having no real-world referents to determine scale: without GPS traces or aerial imagery, figuring out how big a house, or a cloverleaf loop, should be is going to be tricky.)
Previously: Ian Silva’s Koana Islands.
I was not aware that Batman’s Gotham City has had a consistent map for the last fifteen years or so. Its geography was defined in 1998 by illustrator Eliot R. Brown for the “No Man’s Land” storyline but has been used ever since, including by the Christopher Nolan trilogy of movies. Brown describes how the map came to be on his website; the story has also been picked up by Smithsonian.com. Thanks to Caitlin and Dwight for the tip.
E. Forbes Smiley III was a well-known and well-connected map dealer, an expert who helped build the Slaughter and Leventhal map collections. Then in 2005 he was caught — on videotape — stealing maps from Yale University’s Beinecke Library. Libraries he had frequented scrambled to check their own holdings and found additional maps missing. Smiley, who cooperated with the authorities, would eventually be sentenced to 3½ years for stealing nearly 100 maps from the British, Boston Public, New York Public, Harvard and Yale libraries, among others. The libraries believed he stole many more.
With The Map Thief, Michael Blanding presents a book-length exploration of the Forbes Smiley affair, which stunned map collectors and map libraries alike in 2005. Its publication, coming nine years after Smiley’s arrest and four years after his release from prison, is something of an anticlimax, especially for those of us who followed the case so closely as it unfolded (I blogged about it more than 60 times, myself).
Map thieves fascinate us, even if they themselves are not that fascinating (see, for example, the essential blandness of Gilbert Bland, the subject of a previous book about map thefts, Miles Harvey’s Island of Lost Maps), because of what they steal. As stolen goods, antique maps are a curiosity: like art, but more stealable, because there are few copies, not just one.
Four more fantasy stories about maps to tell you about.
To begin with, two short stories by Beth Cato, both published in Daily Science Fiction, both available to read online. In the first, “Cartographer’s Ink” (August 24, 2012), cartographers “peddle in ink, earth and war”: boundaries drawn on maps with magic ink have real-world effects. The second, simply titled “Maps” (February 14, 2013), is a brief, quietly horrific tale of a young girl, Christina, whose left hand, against her will, draws maps that predict the future. Both belong to that group of map stories that deal in the tension between map and territory, between representation and reality.
Dark Horse has released a Game of Thrones map marker set, based on a map and markers briefly seen in the first season of the HBO TV series. What surprises me is how much more the map resembles a real-world medieval map, in its use of symbols and text, than do the usual fantasy maps, including those for Westeros (though, as I’ve argued before, real-world medieval maps were much more information-dense, and covered in text). At $200, it’s not cheap, but the markers are up to six inches in height, and the map is made of fabric and roughly four by three feet in size. It’s available for purchase at Amazon and ThinkGeek, among others.
In 2005 and 2006 my map blog, The Map Room, was full of posts about one E. Forbes Smiley III, who had been caught stealing rare maps from the Beinecke Library at Yale University. As is often the case with map thieves, Smiley was found to be responsible for many other map thefts from other libraries, and suspected in other thefts. Smiley was sentenced to 30 months in prison. (I posted a lot about the Smiley case: see The Map Room’s Map Thefts category archives.)
I knew there would have to be a book on the Smiley case at some point, and one is coming out next month: The Map Thief, whose author, Michael Blanding, has managed to interview Smiley himself, and promises new information about the case. I’m really looking forward to seeing how well Blanding has managed to tell this particular tale, which consumed so much of my attention seven or eight years ago.
The Only Fantasy World Map You’ll Ever Need by Jake Manley isn’t the first map of its kind that I’ve seen (see also the map in Diana Wynne Jones’s Tough Guide to Fantasyland); still, it’s clear that fantasy maps are a proven vehicle to satirize and critique the genre. (And be satirized and critiqued.) Via @scalzi.
CanVec is a dataset produced by the federal Department of Natural Resources. It’s been made available to use in OpenStreetMap: users have to download the data for a given area and import it into the OSM database.
It’s a great resource, but I’ve been giving CanVec the side eye for years, largely because OSM users had been bungling the imports and not cleaning up the mess they made. To some extent it also encouraged a certain amount of laziness from Canadian OSM users: why go to the trouble of tracing imagery or going out with a GPS if you could just download the data from the Natural Resources FTP server?
That said, most of my complaints were from a few years ago; it’s been a while since I’ve seen a CanVec-induced mess in the database (for example, doubled or even tripled roads imported on top of one another). And between existing imports and the improved Bing aerial and satellite imagery coverage, there weren’t many places I was aware of that I could, you know, try a CanVec import for myself.
Two books (well, one is sort of book-ish) related to map art and personal cartography to tell you about:
- Map Art Lab: 52 Exciting Art Explorations in Mapmaking, Imagination, and Travel by Jill K. Berry and Linden McNeilly (Quarry Books, 5/14): “map-related activities set into weekly exercises, beginning with legends and lines, moving through types and styles, and then creating personalized maps that allow you to journey to new worlds.”
- Make Map Art: Creatively Illustrate Your World by Nate Padavick and Salli Swindell (Chronicle Books, 2/14), a “creative toolkit” that includes a booklet and 30 pull-out sheets to use as templates for personal mapmaking projects.
Jill Kelly’s previous work, Personal Geographies: Explorations in Mixed-Media Mapmaking, was reviewed here in 2011.
In The Geology of Game of Thrones, a group of geologists has created a geologic map of Westeros and Essos, as well as an invented geologic history of the planet on which George R. R. Martin’s epic takes place. Via io9.
This isn’t the first time a fantasy world has been looked at through a geologic lens. Karen Wynn Fonstad’s Atlas of Middle-earth took a reasonably rigorous look at the landforms of Middle-earth. And Antony Swithin — a geologist in real life under his real name, William Sarjeant — created a geologic map of his invented island of Rockall (see previous entry).
Previously: Review: The Lands of Ice and Fire.
A trap street is a fictitious street inserted by a mapmaker to catch plagiarists. Trap Street is also the title of a movie making the rounds of the festival circuit. Directed by Vivian Qu, Trap Street (Shuiyin jie) tells the story of a mapmaker who encounters a mysterious woman on an unmappable street. Based on the IMDB listing, it seems to be headed for a June release. (Does anyone have more information on this film?) Via Jennifer.
The USGS has published a geologic map of Ganymede, Jupiter’s largest moon and the largest moon in the Solar System, based on imagery from the Voyager 1, Voyager 2 and Galileo probes. Via Centauri Dreams, Sky and Telescope.
Meanwhile, Sky and Telescope has produced a Mercury globe based on MESSENGER imagery. They already produce both visual and topographic globes of the Moon and Mars, as well as a globe of Venus coloured for elevation. (I’m crossing my fingers for globes of the outer moons, myself.)
This map from the American Intercity Bus Riders Association (PDF) attempts to map every intercity bus and train route in the United States — i.e., everywhere you can go without a car. It’s a huge, high-resolution, detailed map, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they missed some. Via Grist and GIS Lounge.
Sylvia Sumira’s forthcoming book on globes — titled Globes: 400 Years of Exploration, Navigation and Power in its U.S. edition and The Art and History of Globes in its British edition — is a history of globemaking during its peak: “Showcasing the impressive collection of globes held by the British Library, Sumira traces the inception and progression of globes during the period in which they were most widely used — from the late fifteenth century to the late nineteenth century — shedding light on their purpose, function, influence, and manufacture, as well as the cartographers, printers, and instrument makers who created them.” Out next month from University of Chicago Press (for North America) and in April from the British Library (Commonwealth markets). Amazon (UK). Via Boing Boing.
Reddit user atrubetskoy has produced a map of the U.S. showing how much snow it takes to cancel school. It’s an approximation, to be sure. But it’s not a map of winter wussiness: areas that rarely get a lot of snow don’t tend to have the infrastructure to deal with it. Via io9.
Two more map books, this time of an academic bent:
- London: The Selden Map and the Making of a Global City, 1549-1689 by Robert K. Batchelor (University of Chicago Press, 1/14). Batchelor uses the information on the Selden Map to demonstrate how the city of London “flourished because of its many encounters, engagements, and exchanges with East Asian trading cities.” (Amazon)
- Map Worlds: A History of Women in Cartography by Will C. van den Hoonaard (Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 8/13). “[A] journey of discovery through the world of women map-makers from the golden age of cartography in the sixteenth-century Low Countries to tactile maps in contemporary Brazil.” (Amazon)
Previously: More Map Books.
Go read Casey N. Cep’s essay, “The Allure of the Map,” on the New Yorker’s website: she explores the relationship between maps and literature on several fronts, including the role of maps in the creative process and the relationship between mapmaking and reality. Also quite a bit on the recurrent meme of the 1:1 map — the map as large as the thing being mapped — from Carroll to Borges to (I did not know) Gaiman (Swanwick and Eco too, if I’m not mistaken: more could indeed be said). Anyway: relevant to our interests. Go read.
Here are some map books that I recently found out about:
- Mr. Selden’s Map of China: Decoding the Secrets of a Vanished Cartographer by Timothy Brook (Bloomsbury Press/House of Anansi Press/Profile Books, 9/13). A book-length study of the enigmatic Selden Map of China, donated to the Bodleian Library in 1659 and only rediscovered in 2009. (Amazon: Canada, U.S., U.K.; Kindle: Canada, U.S., U.K.)
- The Golden Age of Maritime Maps: When Europe Discovered the World by Catherine Hoffman, Hélène Richard and Emmanuelle Vagnon (Firefly Books, 9/13). One of those big, illustrated books of old maps; this one looks at portolan charts. It’s an English translation of L’âge d’or des cartes marines. (Amazon)
- Maps of Paradise by Alessandro Scafi (University of Chicago Press, 11/13). Explores “the diverse ways in which scholars and mapmakers from the eighth to the twenty-first century rose to the challenge of identifying the location of paradise on a map, despite the certain knowledge that it was beyond human reach.”
- The International Atlas of Mars Exploration: The First Five Decades, 1953 to 2003 by Philip J. Stooke (Cambridge University Press, 9/12). The first of two volumes (the second will be subtitled Spirit to Curiosity) that maps the extent of exploration by orbiters and landers. (Amazon; Kindle; author’s page)
If somebody who was vaguely interested in maps wanted a book to get them started, I think I might point them toward A History of the World in Twelve Maps, written by Renaissance Studies professor Jerry Brotton. This book first appeared in September 2012 in Great Britain, where it’s now out in paperback. The U.S. edition came out last month in hardcover.
It’s a history of cartography that takes a rather unique approach: instead of providing a straight narrative history, Brotton focuses on twelve maps (or, more precisely, mapmaking endeavours), ranging from Ptolemy’s Geography to Google Earth. But Brotton does a lot more than talk about just 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
- 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