- N. K. Jemisin talks about the map that accompanies her new fantasy novel, The Fifth Season. Uncharacteristically for a fantasy map, but appropriately for the novel, it indicates tectonic plate boundaries. Also uncharacteristic is its use of shaded relief to indicate mountains. The map was executed by Tim Paul, whose portfolio is here.
- Tor.com is giving away 10 copies of a fold-out poster map that accompanies the boxed set of Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn trilogy. (Entry deadline is October 9 at noon EDT.)
- Jake Hayes is collecting maps from children’s fiction on Pinterest.
- At The Funambulist last January, Léopold Lambert discussed the use of cartography in François Schuiten and Benoit Peeters’s 2004 graphic novel The Invisible Frontier (Vol. 1, Vol. 2).
As Fabrice Leroy exposes in “The Representation of Politics and the Politics of Representation in Schuiten and Peeters’s La Frontière Invisible,” (History and Politics in French-Language Comics, Jackson: The University of Mississippi Press, 2008, 117-136), two cartographic paradigms oppose each other throughout Schuiten and Peeters’ novel. The first one is carried by an old man, Monsieur Paul, who is committed to make maps that reflects on the historic conditions of a place, both at an individual empirical level and at a collective (inter)national one. This interpretation of the map is particularly illustrated in the first part of the story with the delicate care of each body interacting empirically with the model/terrain. The second one is also embodied by a character, Ismail Djunov, who undertook to automatize the process of map-making through monumental machines aiming at an objective cartography.
Something else for me to track down. The Invisible Frontier seems to be out of print.
My Correct Views on Everything
↳ Science Fiction & Fantasy
Another fantasy story featuring maps, Charlotte Ashley’s “Eleusinian Mysteries,” appears in this month’s issue of Luna Station Quarterly. In it, a Javanese-Dutch mapmaker named Maghfira is punished for making maps of the moon that include a seemingly fanciful feature: a city named Eleusis. Naturally — this is an sf/fantasy story, after all — Eleusis turns out to be not so fanciful, and Maghfira gets herself into further trouble in its pursuit. The story says a little about maps and forbidden knowledge, rather more about about alienation and the urge to strike out into the unknown.
My reviewing gig at AE: The Canadian Science Fiction Review continues. Last month I reviewed Emily St. John Mandel’s Clarke Award-winning novel, Station Eleven; somehow I forgot to mention it here (I may have been preoccupied). And this morning, my review of Nalo Hopkinson’s new short story collection, Falling in Love with Hominids, went live at AE.
(A reminder: though I read very broadly, and talk a lot about books here, my remit at AE is reviewing Canadian science fiction.)
In my study of fantasy maps, one thing I’m particularly interested in is the difference between fantasy maps and their real-world counterparts. Those differences can be substantial; at some point I hope to go into a bit more depth about them. Meanwhile, James Hinton’s guest post at The Worldbuilding School tries to address this subject by comparing a single real-world city map (London, 1653) with a non-canonical map of Osgiliath from a role-playing game. His point turns out to be that fantasy settings should make sense (Osgiliath, according to the map, doesn’t): it’s a question of geography rather than cartography. The territory rather than the map. But if you begin building your fantasy world by drawing the map … Via MetaFilter.
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.
Now that the Hugo Award statistics have been released, we can try to answer the question that has been bugging me since the nominations came out: just how many Sad and Rabid Puppy nominators were there?
(Note: This post deals with the arcana of voting for the Hugo Awards. Some familiarity with the subject is required to make any sense of it. We’re talking about votes at the nomination stage earlier this year, which determined the final ballot — not the vote on the final ballot, the results of which were announced on Saturday.)
De Bodard first came to my notice with her trilogy of Aztec murder mystery fantasy novels: Servant of the Underworld (Angry Robot, 2010), Harbinger of the Storm (Angry Robot, 2011) and Master of the House of Darts (Angry Robot, 2011), now collected in an omnibus volume, Obsidian and Blood (Angry Robot, 2012: Amazon, U.K. edition). Set in a 15th-century Tenochtitlan where the Aztec religion is real (gods interact freely with mortals, and blood sacrifices are literally required to keep the sun in the sky and ensure the survival of life on earth), the novels follow the story of Acatl, the High Priest of the Dead, as he solves murders with spells and sacrifices and does his best to stave off a Mesoamerican Ragnarök that always seems just around the corner.
This morning my review of The Just City and The Philosopher Kings, the first two books of Jo Walton’s Thessaly trilogy, went live at AE. I don’t have the background in classical history and literature to get all the references, but as I argue in my review, that’s not at all necessary to enjoy these books.
I’m also happy to announce, now that I’ve signed the contract, that my essay on the short fiction of Peter Watts will appear in translation as an afterword to a French collection of Watts’s short stories. The as-yet-untitled book will be published by Éditions du Bélial’ in 2016. So a landmark of sorts: my first reprint and my first translation.
As I mentioned in a previous post, I appeared on a panel called “It’s Actually About Ethics: Reviewing the Work of Colleagues and Friends” at Readercon. That was last weekend. Scott Edelman recorded video of that panel, so you can see me in all my questionable glory. As you will see, I have a few suggestions about who you should and should not review.
Alyx Dellamonica’s Child of a Hidden Sea (Tor Books, June 2014) is the kind of fantasy adventure novel you used to see a lot more of — not technically YA, but certainly something my 14- or 15-year-old self would have had no trouble reading. But do not make the mistake that this is some kind of throwback. It’s a delightful portal fantasy that brings the form up to date in several important ways.
Twenty-four-year-old Sophie Hansa, fresh off a difficult first contact with her birth mother, suddenly finds herself floating at sea, desperately trying to save the life of an aunt she’s just met. It turns out that she’s been swept away to Stormwrack, a richly developed fantasy world of island nations and dashing sailors. She is promptly sent back, but manages to return, bringing her brother Bram with her. Adventures naturally ensue.
Ecdysis is, you may remember, a nominee for this year’s Aurora Award for Best Fan Publication. It’s available for free online, so its inclusion in the formal voter’s packet isn’t really necessary. But since making all the eligible issues available in a single download might make things more convenient for Aurora voters, I’ve put together my own little voter’s packet: a ZIP file containing the three issues published in 2014 (28.9 MB). I hope you find it helpful.
So the proposal for a Best Saga Hugo Award (see previous entry) has since been revised: they’ve abandoned getting rid of Best Novelette, which was needlessly zero-sum, and have lowered the minimum word count. The proposal now says 300,000 words; the draft posted to File 770 at more or less the same time says 240,000. A series cannot win more than once, but it can certainly be nominated multiple times (so long as two new installments requalifies it) until it wins — I think of this as the “my favourite series better damn well win this time” provision.
I’m still not a fan: it’s going to be a popularity contest for very popular (if not always good) ongoing series. And any minimum word count is going to be exclusionary. A 240,000-word lower limit would have rendered ineligible the original Foundation trilogy — which won a one-off “Best All-Time Series” Hugo in 1966.
And as far as I can tell the amendment would still allow series to appear on the Best Novel ballot when the final installment is published, like The World of Time did last year.
Herewith some initial thoughts on a couple of proposed amendments to the World Science Fiction Society’s constitution that will be discussed at the WSFS business meeting at Sasquan. These amendments propose changing the rules governing the Hugo Awards.
Warning: Hugo Award rules neepery ahead.
In my latest piece for AE, I survey the short fiction of Peter Watts. What might have been a review of his collection Beyond the Rift quickly grew into a longer piece about the themes found in his entire corpus of short fiction, only half of which is found in that collection. (Most of his stories can be downloaded from his website or found elsewhere online.) Read on to find out why Watts’s stories are so unsettling.
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.
The Aurora Awards are essentially the Canadian equivalent of the Hugo Awards. They’re voted on by members of the Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy Association; and voting takes place much as it does with the Hugos. They’re awarded at Canvention, the Canadian national science fiction convention, which takes place as part of an existing convention. (As I understand it, the French-language Auroras are administered separately.)
The Auroras are a small award in the grand scheme of things (inasmuch as sf fandom can have a grand scheme), but this is my first genre award nomination, and I have feels.
Just finished reading The Martian by Andy Weir. Good Lord it’s a lot of fun.
During this year’s Hugo Awards foofaraw, there was some disappointment expressed that this book was not on the final ballot. That was not because Hugo voters were out to snub a book full of the good old stuff and lacking in social justice virtue, or whatever — it was simply ineligible. The Martian was first self-published electronically in 2011. But don’t weep overmuch for Andy Weir: after brisk online sales, both traditional publishing and Hollywood started paying attention. He got a six-figure advance for the hardcover edition, which came out in February 2014, and the movie adaptation comes out this November.
And it’s not hard to see why. The book chronicles a lone astronaut’s struggle to survive on the Martian surface after an accident leaves him stranded there, and the attempts to rescue him. It’s chock-a-block with technical detail — Weir did a lot of research, and the Mars program in the book reflects a lot of the proposals I’ve seen — and MacGyveresque solutions to problems. It’s written in a light, breezy and entertaining (if not necessarily felicitous) manner. Characterization and prose quality are not among its virtues — it’s basically an Analog story without all the Analog baggage — but Weir manages to maintain real tension while interleaving it with some legitimately funny moments; in many ways it manages to out-Scalzi John Scalzi at his own game. It’s a fun book — just what I needed right now.
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.
My review of Jo Walton’s My Real Children is now up at AE. My Real Children came out a year ago, but it just won the Tiptree Award, which made doing the review more timely; AE’s review policy doesn’t limit itself to new releases in any event.
Rereading the book for this review was an interesting experience, as was writing the review. This is the kind of book that could generate several different reviews that each focused exclusively on a different subject. It wasn’t just that I was scratching the surface — I was scratching just one surface.
The fourth issue was late; this one is ludicrously so: I’d hoped to have it out by the end of December. That’s on me alone: everyone else got their stuff in on time. But with everything that’s been happening, it took me a long time before I could brain enough to get things together.
But that means we’ve got an extra helping of … uh, whatever it is that we do here for you this time. Forty pages in all.
My third book review for AE was posted earlier this week: this time I look at Elements, a short story collection by Suzanne Church. (To reiterate: AE is where I’ll be reviewing Canadian science fiction; anything that is neither will likely fall outside that purview. Bear that in mind when deciding whether to send me a review copy.)
It is now a virtual certainty that Jennifer and I will be attending Ad Astra next month. There was some doubt about it in terms of whether she’d be sufficiently recuperated to attend, but she is, so we will. I’m not doing any programming or anything; our plan is simply to socialize.
The other conventions we plan to attend this year are Readercon and Can-Con. I was too slow to sign up for World Fantasy before it reached the membership cap; Sasquan conflicts with the start of Jennifer’s school year; and we’re watching our pennies too much this year to attend anything further afield.
The next issue of Ecdysis is running awfully late (I’d originally intended for it to be out three months ago), but it’s very nearly done. Honest. It might even be worth the wait.
My review of Matthew Johnson’s short story collection, Irregular Verbs and Other Stories (ChiZine, 2014), went live this morning at AE: The Canadian Science Fiction Review.
It’s my second review for AE, and I’ll be doing more, so yes, I think it’s safe to call myself a book reviewer. A few years ago I would have found the prospect of writing full-length reviews, rather than a blog entry a paragraph or two long, utterly daunting, at least for science fiction and fantasy (I’d already been reviewing map books, after all). And yet here I am, to my great surprise. Still feels like I’m learning how to do it, one review at a time, sweat beading.
That said, I’ll primarily be reviewing Canadian sf at that venue (in case you’re wondering whether to send me a review copy). The fact that I know a lot of the Canadian authors in this field, some of them very well, will make things a bit tricky: “full disclosure” may well be a permanent feature of my reviews. To say nothing of the situation if I have to give a book a bad review (see my previous post on that subject). I’m definitely feeling what Amal El-Mohtar expresses about writing reviews of books by people you know or who might see the review, in the most recent episode of the Rocket Talk podcast (which is really worth listening to in full, for Amal’s and Natalie Luhrs’s sharp insights on the ethics of reviewing).
As I announced on all the social media, my review of Ruth Ozeki’s Kitchie-winning, Booker-shortlisted novel, A Tale for the Time Being, was posted at AE: The Canadian Science Fiction Review on Monday. It seems a little premature to say that I’ve picked up a gig reviewing books when only one review has been posted so far, but this review isn’t a one-time thing. If all goes well I should have a review with them every other month or so (and yes, I know what I’m reviewing next).
My friend Dominik Parisien is editing Clockwork Canada, an anthology of Canadian steampunk stories, for Exile Editions, to be published in spring 2016. Open to submissions from December 1, 2014 to April 30, 2015; Canadians only; 2,000 to 8,000 words; 5¢/word.
One of Jeet Heer’s famous numbered Twitter essays deals with the relationship between history, alternate history and science fiction, and goes down some really interesting alleyways. A few examples:
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.
It’s late: I’d hoped to get it out in September. Even that would have been a bit of a scramble, after summer vacations and Tamara’s sojourn at Clarion. But then life got in the way in a fairly fundamental fashion, as many of you know.
This issue features my editorial on works that are “not science fiction” appearing on award ballots, Tamara’s adventures at Clarion, the art Jennifer creates during readings, and reviews of work by John Chu, Lee Killough and Karl Schroeder, among other things. Plus graphs. I hope you enjoy it.
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.
Submissions will be opening soon for two forthcoming Canadian sf anthologies paying semipro rates:
- Second Contacts (Bundoran Press), edited by Mike Rimar and Hayden Trenholm, seeks stories that explore “what happens fifty years after first contact, for us, for them, for our shared future.” Open for submissions from September 15, 2014 to January 15, 2015; up to 10,000 words (3,500 to 6,500 preferred); 2¢/word to a maximum of $130.
- Tesseracts Nineteen (Edge), edited by Claude Lalumière and Mark Shainblum. Annual Canadian anthology with a different theme each year; this one seeks “any and all permutations of the superhero genre.” Open for submissions from October 30, 2014 to February 2, 2015; Canadians only; up to 6,000 words; $50-160.
I support greater diversity in science fiction and fantasy, and I have to confess that one of my reasons for doing so is selfish: I want more interesting stories to read. The field is at its least interesting when it’s a monoculture (we can’t all be responding to Heinlein and Tolkien); it’s at its most interesting when it includes authors from diverse backgrounds and experiences, who use those backgrounds and experiences to inform their work. It’s a win-win situation: more people see themselves in the fiction they read; readers benefit from being exposed to other backgrounds; the field as a whole gets stronger.
But Long Hidden: Speculative Fiction from the Margins of History doesn’t just bring us diverse fiction, though it certainly does that; it brings us fiction from the margins. Let me explain: diverse fiction might include a story from Japan; fiction from the margins might include a story about a Japanese minority like the Ainu.
- Heinlein and His Biographer
- Testing the King Hypothesis
- Four More Map Stories
- Game of Thrones Map Marker Set
- Questionable Practices
- 2013 Nebula Awards
- Ecdysis 3
- The Only Fantasy World Map You’ll Ever Need
- The Geology of ‘Game of Thrones’
- Unlikely Cartography ToC
- Ecdysis Editorial Posted
- Ecdysis 2
- The New Yorker on Maps and Literature
- The Journal of Unlikely Cartography
- Introducing Ecdysis
- Literary SF Gets Noticed
- How to Make a Fantasy Map
- Horse of a Different Color
- Glitter and Mayhem
- The 2013 Hugo Results
- My New Article on Fantasy Maps: ‘Here Be Blank Spaces’
- On Year’s-Best Anthologies
- A Fantasy Map of Ireland
- Three Original Anthologies
- 2013 Hugos: Novellas
- A Fantasy Map of Great Britain
- A Fantasy Map of Australia
- The Mapmaker’s War
- The Best of All Possible Worlds
- Fantasy Maps Project Page Updated
- Review: Here Be Dragons
- The Sixteenth-Century Origins of Fantasy Maps
- 2013 Hugos: Short Stories
- My Own Private Westeros
- 2012 Nebula Award Winners
- 2012 Nebulas: Novelettes
- 2012 Nebulas: Novellas
- 2012 Nebulas: Short Stories
- The Human Division
- Without a Summer
- Iain M. Banks
- Glamour in Glass
- Throne of the Crescent Moon
- The 2013 Hugo Award Nominees
- In Defence of Immortality
- A Natural History of Dragons
- The Imaginarium Geographica
- 2012 Nebula Ballot Announced
- Red Planet Blues
- Ankh-Morpork on the iPad
- The Book of Thomas: Volume One: Heaven
- Saladin Ahmed on Secondary World Fantasy
- Interfictions, Tesseracts
- Gene Wolfe, Grand Master
- Antony Swithin’s Rockall
- Analog and Asimov’s Raise Their Rates
- Review: The Lands of Ice and Fire
- Let Maps to Others
- The World Fantasy Map Panel
- Gardner Dozois Ebooks!
- Now Out: The Lands of Ice and Fire
- Be My Enemy
- Caliban’s War
- Mira Grant’s Newsflesh Trilogy
- Two New Online SF Magazines
- Space Navies
- Roger Zelazny’s Here There Be Dragons
- Dung Kai-cheung’s Atlas
- The Pottawatomie Giant and Other Stories
- At the Mouth of the River of Bees
- Leviathan Wakes
- Canadian Calls for Submissions
- The High Crusade
- P Is for Prunes
- Kate Elliott on Fantasy Maps
- Write Like the Wind
- 2012 Hugos: Related Work
- A Scholarly Work on Fantasy Maps
- 2011 Nebula Award Winners
- 2011 Nebulas: Novels
- 2011 Nebulas: Short Stories
- 2012 Aurora Award Finalists
- El Viaje de Argos
- The 2012 Hugo Award Nominees
- The Islanders
- 2011 Nebulas: Novelettes
- The Lands of Ice and Fire: Westeros Atlas Coming in October
- 2011 Nebulas: Novellas
- Christopher Priest vs. the Clarke Awards
- Arctic Rising
- A Fantasy Map of the U.S.
- A Door into Ocean
- 2011 Nebula Ballot Announced
- How Readers Use Fantasy Maps
- ‘The Maps We Wandered Into as Kids’
- Two Writing Workshops
- 2011 Science Fiction and Fantasy Recommendations
- Radio Waves
- Four Map Stories
- Reading Short SF and Fantasy 3
- Incompetent Dwarves and Wizardly Plans
- Reading Short SF and Fantasy 2
- More Skiffy Bits
- Skiffy Bits
- Reading Short SF and Fantasy 1
- Gopnik on Fantasy and Young Readers
- 2011 in Short SF and Fantasy
- 2011 Aurora Awards
- Master of the House of Darts
- Middle-Earth’s Columbian Exchange
- The Farthing Party Map Panel
- Maps in Science Fiction and Fantasy
- Top 20 Steampunk Books
- SF Signal on Fantasy Maps
- 2011 Hugos: Novellas
- 2011 Hugos: Novelettes
- Gardner Dozois: When the Great Days Come
- 2011 Hugos: Short Stories
- The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms
- The Dervish House
- Encyclopedia of Science Fiction Online
- She Likes It Dark
- Engineering Infinity
- Fuzzy Nation
- Realms of Fantasy Will Move to Online Submissions
- Clarkesworld on the Kindle
- Zoo City
- 2010 Nebula Awards Announced
- Michael Swanwick’s Dancing with Bears
- Consensus in Science Fiction Awards
- Buddy Holly Is Alive and Well on Ganymede
- Ad Astra 2011: Top Ten SF Novels
- Reading Jules Verne
- ‘Can’t-Miss’ SF and Fantasy Novels for 2011
- 2010 Nebulas: Novellas
- Aliette de Bodard’s Aztec Mystery Novels
- 2010 Nebulas: Novelettes
- ‘The Fall of Alacan’ by Tobias Buckell
- 2010 Nebulas: Short Stories
- In Defence of the Tolkien Estate
- Writing Space-Based Science Fiction
- Prisoners of Gravity Episodes Online
- Words in 1907
- Copyediting Science Fiction and Fantasy
- Analog Goes Digital