Jonathan Crowe

My Correct Views on Everything
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The Only Fantasy World Map You’ll Ever Need

The Only Fantasy World Map You'll Ever Need

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.

The Geology of ‘Game of Thrones’

The Geology of Game of Thrones

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.


Book cover: Lockstep In science fiction, faster-than-light travel is a narrative convention that allows you to move standard human beings over interstellar distances cheaply. But if you want to do science fiction rigorously — with the net up, as Gregory Benford calls it — you have to go without FTL (it’s not an engineering problem; it breaks known physics). They’re mutually exclusive. The problem is, you can’t have an interstellar civilization without FTL, can you?

My father and I have been debating this back and forth for years. On the face of it it’s intrinsically impossible: if you can’t have FTL, the distances and costs involved in travel make trade and communication prohibitive. To accelerate goods and people to relativistic velocities would be insanely expensive, and it would still take decades to get there. Hardly anything would be worth the shipping costs: it would be easier and cheaper to synthesize what you need rather than import it. Transmutation is less expensive than interstellar trade. (No doubt this is why sf focuses on rare goods, from melange to unobtanium.)

Absent that trade, there’s no rationale for having an interstellar civilization. Even if you were able or willing to colonize other planets (though again, the cost of sending a colony ship is of a magnitude that many in science fiction fail to grasp), the colonies would be on their own. With no reason to trade, how would the investment in a colony ship be recouped? And what purpose would there be for an interstellar government — Empire, Federation, whatever — if there was no trade for it to regulate?

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Unlikely Cartography ToC

The table of contents for the Journal of Unlikely Cartography, Unlikely Story’s single-issue special featuring science fiction and fantasy stories about maps (see previous entry), has been announced; the issue will be out in June.

Ecdysis Editorial Posted

On account of the fact that it is relevant to an argument that erupted online this week even though it was written weeks in advance, I’ve posted my editorial from the second issue of Ecdysis in the Articles section. So if you’re somehow adverse to downloading the ebook or PDF version, you can read it here. It talks about sf fandom as a high-context culture and reading the classics as a barrier to entry.

Its relevance to Toni Weisskopf’s screed, and the responses by John Scalzi, Ana Grilo and Foz Meadows, among others, is kind of scary. Which says something about the issue: it’s been with us for a while.

Ecdysis 2

The second issue of Ecdysis, my science fiction and fantasy fanzine, is now available for download.

This issue is out about a month earlier than originally planned; between us, we’re producing enough material that it looks like we’ll be putting this thing out on a bimonthly rather than quarterly schedule.

This issue has two main themes: classic science fiction and dinosaurs.

For the former, Tamara has a long essay discussing The Science Fiction Hall of Fame 50 years after its first publication, and how well the stories contained therein hold up today. I also have an editorial that discusses why it can be a problem when people insist that certain classics be read.

For the latter, I look at two sf/fantasy novels set during the Bone Wars and the phenomenon that is dinosaur erotica; Tamara has two dinosaur poems that are pastiches of some well-known classics.

I also have a short, funny story in which a serpent god is summoned in place of a toilet snake. Plus letters of comment responding to the contents of our first issue. All ably illustrated by Jennifer; the dinosaur bits also get decorated by early paleontological illustrations that have since lapsed into the public domain.

Issue three should be out in late April. It will be a special issue, focusing on sf/fantasy awards. The plan is to (1) discuss awards’ sometimes-problematic nature, (2) review this year’s Nebula nominees, and (3) write about this year’s Grand Master, Samuel R. Delany. It’s going to be a big issue, and I’m looking for additional people who would be willing to contribute. Let me know if you’re interested.

Previously: Introducing Ecdysis.

The New Yorker on Maps and Literature

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.

The Journal of Unlikely Cartography

When it comes to maps and fantasy, I’m particularly interested in the ways that maps are used in the course of a story, as opposed to appearing at the front of the book for reference purposes. I’ve posted many examples over the past few years and have a bunch more in my to-read pile.

It looks like next year will add considerably to that list: Unlikely Story is publishing a single-issue Journal of Unlikely Cartography. The call for submissions:

From pirate maps leading to buried treasure to painstakingly-drawn maps of continents that never were, there are endless unlikely possibilities in the world of cartography. Send us your story of a rogue GPS taking a driver down non-existent roads, show us what lies in those unexplored territories labeled “here there be monsters,” give us haunted globes, star charts written in disappearing ink, and spiraling lines on crumbling parchment leading to the center of the labyrinth. As always, we want gorgeously-told tales, gripping characters, and unique worlds to explore. Genre doesn’t matter to us, along as your tale involves maps or cartography in some integral way.

Pays 5¢/word on publication, deadline February 1. I have had considerable difficulty in submitting to anthologies in the past (I write fiction very slowly; the story never quite gels in time for the deadline), but I really, really, really need to submit something to this.

Introducing Ecdysis

This morning, the first issue of Ecdysis, my science fiction and fantasy fanzine, went live on its new website. It’s available for download in iBooks and PDF formats.

Ecdysis 1 cover I’ve wanted to do a fanzine for some time, but I wanted to do it differently. Not just in format or design, but in terms of content. A lot of fanzines run in the narrow band from nostalgic to curmudgeonly; I wanted to focus not so much on fan culture, or on personalities and events, but on the art the field produces: the books, the movies, and so forth. Anyway, I go on about this at some length in the first issue’s editorial.

I call this “my” fanzine, but that’s not strictly correct. I’ve had help in the form of contributions for which I am profoundly grateful. My partner Jennifer provided artwork that I challenged myself to write a story around: “Clockwork Fish” is the result. (I suspect we’ll be doing something similar for each issue: she draws something, and I try to figure out some text to accompany it.) And our friend Tamara shared a long essay on the operatic nature of Pacific Rim and a collection of correspondence whose origins are, shall we say, not from around here. The issue is much better for it.

My own pieces run the gamut: they include an introduction to snakesploitation movies, a meditation on listening to an audiobook, and an explanation of the problem of nautical navigation in Middle-earth.

If all goes well, we’ll be continuing this on a quarterly basis. We already have some ideas for the next issue.

Literary SF Gets Noticed

Ted Chiang gets noticed by an Economist blogger. Kim Stanley Robinson gets reviewed by a New Yorker blogger. And small-press short-story collections by Cat Valente and Howard Waldrop get reviewed in the New York Times. What’s going on here? Science fiction and fantasy doesn’t get noticed by the high end of mainstream media. It’s like Canada in the international press: we’re used to operating under the radar. And that goes double for literary science fiction and fantasy of the sort written by these folks. Not that I’m complaining: I’m delighted. But I’m very confused.

How to Make a Fantasy Map

Map from The Emperor's Blades by Brian Staveley; map by Isaac Stewart

So today posted something very much relevant to my interests: a piece by illustrator Isaac Stewart that describes his process for creating a map for a fantasy novel. In this case, The Emperor’s Blades by Brian Staveley, who very helpfully provided a sketch from which Stewart could work.

This is utterly fascinating for me, because a significant gap in my research into fantasy maps has been the process of creating them. It’s sort of left me feeling like a wine taster that has no idea how wine is made. Stewart (who has also done work for Brandon Sanderson’s novels: his maps for The Alloy of Law have already caught my attention) takes us through every step, from inspiration through Photoshop.

Earlier this year I published an article pointing out that the main difference between historical and fantasy maps was information density: a real medieval map is full of detail, because cartographers don’t dare waste vellum; fantasy maps are relatively sparse — largely, I suspected, because only so much detail can legibly fit on a map printed for a mass-market paperback. That was an educated guess on my part; it’s interesting to see it confirmed:

A map meant to fit in a hardcover book (and subsequently a paperback) can’t be as detailed as a real-world map and still be legible. Even though I treat the map as a product of its fantasy world, it has to be understandable to modern audiences. Usually this means I can’t copy the exact style of my reference, but I can use it for inspiration.

I’ll be referring to Stewart’s post often, I think.

Horse of a Different Color

Book cover: Horse of a Different Color Horse of a Different Color is, by my count, Howard Waldrop’s seventh collection of previously uncollected stories, and collects stories that first appeared between 2003 and 2010. This is a slim volume; Howard was never prolific, and his stories have never come easily to him, but during this time he also had some pretty serious health issues to deal with, which cut into what productivity there was.

In the ten stories that make up this collection, the usual Waldrop themes are on display. Easily the field’s most eccentric and idiosyncratic writer, Howard fishes the most obscure streams of history and popular culture, blending them in a gonzo but laconic fashion that rewards the informed reader. But that’s not to say that Howard’s stories are pure fun. Sure, my favourite story of the book is “Avast, Abaft!,” where the Pirates of Penzance meet Captain Hook in the surreal and brain-explodey fashion of such Waldrop stories. But the quieter stories can pack considerable emotional heat. Take “The Wolf-man of Alcatraz,” which mashes up exactly what you think it does, or “Ninieslando,” a devastating story about Esperanto-speakers on the front lines of World War I.

In Howard’s stories, forgotten character actors appear in alternate worlds whose difference is so subtle, mentioned in passing five pages ago, that you probably missed it. A classic example is the title story, “The Horse of a Different Color (That Your Rode in On),” which features a sixth Marx brother (who in real life died in infancy), vaudeville, pantomime horses, and the Grail quest. Along with “Why The Ile Fit You,” which opens the collection and also features one of Howard’s beloved character actors, or “The Bravest Girl I Ever Knew …,” which invents a post-Kong life for Ann Darrow, the meat of the story is well below the surface: you have to watch carefully or you’ll miss it.

That hey-wait-what-just-happened-here also takes place “The King of Where-I-Go,” a terribly sweet story of a brother and sister that starts with polio and ends somewhere quite different. At an emotional level it’s arguably the most effective story in the book.

The stories of Horse of a Different Color don’t all have the firepower of my favourite Waldrop stories, but there’s still some very good stuff here. It’s not a good entry point, though. If you’re new to Waldrop, you might start with his first collection, Howard Who?, or the two-volume best-of collection from Old Earth Books: Things Will Never Be the Same (short stories) and Other Worlds, Better Lives (novellas). Everything else is, alas, out of print.

See Paul Di Filippo’s review. Jonathan Strahan has compiled a Waldrop bibliography.

Horse of a Different Color
by Howard Waldrop
Small Beer Press, November 2013
Buy at Amazon (Kindle) | Buy at Weightless Books | publisher’s page | Goodreads | LibraryThing

Glitter and Mayhem

Book cover: Glitter and Mayhem You know, I shouldn’t have liked this anthology as much as I did.

Small-press anthologies can be hit or miss in terms of quality, but the editors of Glitter and Mayhem, John Klima, Lynne M. Thomas and Michael Damian Thomas, have assembled a crack team of up and coming writers, many of whose work I actively seek out.

Theme anthologies can often misfire: if the theme is too constraining, the resulting stories can be too similar to one another, as though there was only one way to do a story on that theme. Yet this book fairly crackles with diversity and inventiveness. It turns out that the anthology’s writers could do an awful lot with the anthology’s theme of “roller rinks, nightclubs, glam aliens, party monsters, drugs, sex, glitter, and debauchery.” More than anything else, there’s an emotional rawness to many of these stories that’s drawn from the intensity of their settings. Glam as crucible.

(At least one of these stories was bleak and sad and true enough that it made me want to call up the author to see if she was okay.)

And even though that theme doesn’t really speak to me — my eighties were not your eighties: I’m about as far away from glam as you can get on the spectrum (I wear fleece and drive a Subaru, for crying out loud) — I found Glitter and Mayhem to be a blast to read, simply because it was so much fun: funny, sad, sexy, transgressive, defiant stories of all kinds (detective stories, fantasies, horror, and science fiction with aliens) with people of all kinds (rich and poor, men and women, straight and gay, trans and cis, young and old). I didn’t enjoy every story equally, some I liked quite a bit more than others, but on balance Glitter and Mayhem was a pleasant surprise.

I received an electronic review copy of this book through LibraryThing Early Reviewers.

Glitter and Mayhem
edited by Lynne M. Thomas, John Klima and Michael Damian Thomas
Apex Publications, August 2013
Buy at Amazon (Kindle) | publisher’s page | Goodreads | LibraryThing

The 2013 Hugo Results

Watching the Hugo Awards live on Sunday night was an exercise in frustration, thanks to technical problems at the convention itself (i.e., it wasn’t the hotel, or Ustream). The long and the short of it is that roughly half of the ceremony was not broadcast. I spent the evening grumbling about that — we had friends over to watch the event, so this was disappointing — instead of enjoying and responding to the results. Grumble.

Anyway, with the full knowledge that awards, in Harlan Ellison’s words, “are bullshit” — or, in Charlie Stross’s words, “a beauty contest with arbitrary time-delimited cut-offs. Fun, but shouldn’t be taken too seriously” — here are some thoughts on the Hugo Award results. All in all there were few surprises in terms of the winners, given what we had to choose from on the final ballot. In this post I’m going to delve into the numbers rather than discuss the winners. Warning: excessive voting neepery ahead.

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My New Article on Fantasy Maps: ‘Here Be Blank Spaces’

NYRSF logo My short essay on fantasy maps, “Here Be Blank Spaces: Vaguely Medieval Fantasy Maps” appears in issue #300 of The New York Review of Science Fiction, out today. I wrote it in response to several books I read rather closely together earlier this year: Reinhart’s Art of the Map, Van Duzer’s Sea Monsters on Medieval and Renaissance Maps, and especially Ekman’s Here Be Dragons (links to my reviews). Taken together, these books highlighted a key difference between fantasy maps and their real-world counterparts from medieval and early modern Europe: fantasy maps are full of blank spaces; real-world maps were not.

Issue #300 of the NYRSF should be available to subscribers now. If you’re not a subscriber, you’re in luck: issue #300 is being made available for free (it’s the NYRSF’s 25th anniversary, and the publishers are offering it to celebrate and in hopes that you’ll subscribe). Download it from this page. I’ll eventually have it up in the Articles section as well.

Update 8/28: Read the article here.

On Year’s-Best Anthologies

An interview at Black Gate with four editors of year’s-best fantasy, horror and science fiction anthologies answers a question I’ve often had: how do these editors manage to read all the stories being published today and still have a life? About a year and a half ago I tried doing that myself, but quickly discovered how mad that was: there’s simply too much out there. As David Hartwell explained to me when I asked him about this at Readercon last month, you read every story, but you don’t necessarily finish every story.

A Fantasy Map of Ireland

Fantasy map of Ireland Another data point for our consideration of what people think a fantasy map looks like, from the author of the Maptitude tumblelog: a fantasy map of Ireland, replete with, as you would expect, forests and hills. It departs from the fantasy map paradigm by using colour: red for political boundaries, blue for water. It also uses a vaguely uncial script: something we’ve seen in the movie versions of The Lord of the Rings, but less often in fantasy book maps. Not inappropriate for Ireland, though.

Previously: A Fantasy Map of Great Britain; A Fantasy Map of Australia; A Fantasy Map of the U.S.

Three Original Anthologies

Here are three forthcoming anthologies of original science fiction and fantasy stories that are seeking submissions from writers this year:

  • Long Hidden (Crossed Genres), an anthology of stories from the margins of history edited by Rose Fox and Daniel José Older. Stories must be set between 1400 and 1920 and contain an SF/fantasy/horror/weird element. 3,000 to 7,000 words, 5¢/word. Deadline (extended to) August 31.
  • Strange Bedfellows (Bundoran Press), edited by Hayden Trenholm, an anthology of political science fiction. 2,000 to 7,500 words, 5½¢/word. Deadline September 30.
  • Fractured: Tales of the Canadian Post-Apocalypse (Exile Editions), edited by Silvia Moreno-Garcia, an anthology of Canadian stories “set after a great disaster such as nuclear warfare, pandemic, ecological collapse, etc.” Canadians only, 2,000 to 10,000 words, 5¢/word. Submissions open September 1; deadline November 30.

Yes, I have something in mind for each of these. Whether I can get the stories to cohere in time for the deadline — that’s going to be the trick.

2013 Hugos: Novellas

Of the five novellas — the category comprises stories between 17,500 and 40,000 words — on this year’s Hugo ballot, three were Nebula finalists. Nancy Kress’s After the Fall, Before the Fall, During the Fall (Tachyon) won the Nebula and is on the Hugo ballot as well. It’s joined by Aliette de Bodard’s On a Red Station, Drifting (Immersion) and “The Stars Do Not Lie” by Jay Lake (Asimov’s, October-November 2012). (For my opinions on these novellas, see my Nebulas post.)

Two novellas on the Hugo ballot weren’t on the Nebula ballot, and I’ll discuss them here.

Book cover: San Diego 2014: The Last Stand of the California Browncoats Mira Grant — the science fiction/thriller pseudonym of Seanan McGuire — is on the ballot with San Diego 2014: The Last Stand of the California Browncoats (Orbit), a novella set in the universe of the Newsflesh trilogy. Like last year’s Countdown, also a Hugo nominee, it’s a prequel set during the zombie uprising itself (whereas the trilogy is set some decades afterward). And, as with Countdown, I enjoyed it less than the trilogy itself. The San Diego Comic-Con is locked down during a zombie attack; the novella follows several characters at the convention as they struggle, unsuccessfully, to survive. There isn’t enough room for so many characters: it’s a big novel crammed into a novella. And it has the prequel problem: the uprising is not in question, nor is the outcome. But the fun to be had with a zombie rampage at Comic-Con is not in question, and I’d appreciate it more, I suspect, if I’d ever gone to one.

Book cover: The Emperor's Soul I’ve never read anything by Brandon Sanderson before (epic fantasy tends not to be my thing), so The Emperor’s Soul (Tachyon) was something of a revelation. A Forger — someone who can copy any item with magical skill, which is illegal — is called upon to recreate the soul of the Emperor, who has suffered brain damage after an assassination attempt, racing against a too-short deadline while trying to find the means to escape. I was impressed with the worldbuilding and detailed magical system Sanderson has created; the novella is both engaging and skillful.

The Hugo voting deadline is July 31 — wow, that’s next Wednesday!

A Fantasy Map of Great Britain

Fantasy map of Great Britain (Samuel Fisher)

It turns out that Samuel Fisher has also created a fantasy map of Great Britain, in addition to his Australian fantasy map and one version of the U.S. fantasy map. Again: an important data point for understanding what people think a fantasy map looks like. (His lettering is a dead ringer for Christopher Tolkien’s on the Middle-earth map.) Via Fuck Yeah Cartography.

A Fantasy Map of Australia

Fantasy map of Australia (Samuel Fisher)

Like the fantasy map of the United States we saw last year, Samuel Fisher’s fantasy map of Australia is relevant to my interests because it shows what people think a fantasy map should look like — how it should be styled, what elements it should contain, and so forth. In this case, oblique mountains and forests drawn as stands of individual trees make their usual appearance; the labels are hand-drawn; and the colour scheme runs from cream to taupe. Via Maps on the Web.


Book cover: Redshirts I read John Scalzi’s Redshirts as soon as it came out, more than a year ago. I never got around to writing a review of it at the time. I was up to my neck in other things, as usual, and besides, I had a vague idea of doing a longer piece exploring its commonalities with other genre novels that do subversive and metafictional things with narrative conventions, like Charles Stross’s Jennifer Morgue and Diana Wynne Jones’s Dark Lord of Derkholm. But with me, getting ambitious is often at direct odds with getting finished, so nothing came of it.

But now it’s up for the Hugo Award, one of five nominees, and it’s just won the Locus Award for Best Science Fiction Novel, so it’s not an inopportune time to revisit it. It’s been a year, so there are spoilers.

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The Mapmaker’s War

Book cover: The Mapmaker's War

The Mapmaker’s War, Ronlyn Domingue’s second novel, is an unusual book. It’s fantasy, but does not appear to come from the genre tradition. It’s written in the second person, in the form of a memoir, a dialogue with the narrator’s self, with asides written between vertical bars | like this | and not a single quotation mark in site. The effect is fugue-like, a clear narrative line obscured by memory, the regular trappings of epic plot subsumed beneath the strong narrative voice of the narrator. A mapmaking woman named Aoife, who becomes the wife of the king, discovers a peaceful culture across the water in the course of her mapmaking. It comes to pass that her kingdom plans war against these people; she warns them and is exiled to the culture she warned, where she comes to terms with herself. This isn’t an adventure story, in other words, nor a fairy tale, but something subtler, more personal, more revelatory.

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The Best of All Possible Worlds

Book covers: The Best of All Possible Worlds (both editions) I’m not sure what to make of The Best of All Possible Worlds, Karen Lord’s second novel, even less what to say about it. It’s a science fiction novel set on Cygnus Beta, a polyglot world which has taken in refugees from the destroyed world of Sadira. Our protagonists — Grace Delarua, a liaison officer and our narrator, and Dllenahkh, the Sadiri exile with whom she forms a strong bond — visit a series of vivid and strange Cygnan settlements to find Sadiri genetic and cultural traits to help save the Sadiri.

Lord’s focus is on the interpersonal relationships — in particular, the romance between Delarua and the impossibly reserved Dllenahkh — and on the mixture and remixture of cultures on the planet. In Lord’s universe, humans arose on several planets other than Earth; each human variant has its own cultural and genetic tendencies, but they’re blurred through long admixture. Wholly alien things and familiar cultural references appear together. It’s an effect Lord was aiming at, based on her afterword, and she’s achieved it through a light touch and kind, sympathetic characters.

The problem is that this comfortable setting is wholly at odds with the backdrop of planetary genocide: the Sadiri have arrived because their world has been wiped out; the survivors were off-world, in male-dominated occupations, so the surviving population is terribly gender-imbalanced. Lord does not, as L. Timmel Duchamp points out in her review on Strange Horizons, engage with these ethical issues; the trauma of survival seems to me strangely — and perhaps inappropriately — underplayed. There is conflict and even abuse, but it’s handled so gently that it’s cognitively dissonant.

The Best of All Possible Worlds
by Karen Lord
Jo Fletcher Books, January 2013 (U.K.); Del Rey, February 2013 (U.S.)
Buy at Amazon (Kindle, U.K.) | publisher’s page: U.K., U.S. | Goodreads | LibraryThing

Fantasy Maps Project Page Updated

I’ve updated and expanded the Fantasy Maps project page: it’s still not much more than a collection of links and bibliographic references, but now it’s spread across seven pages, divided by topic, rather than just one. Each topic page to be fleshed out over time. It’s a start.

Review: Here Be Dragons

Book cover: Here Be Dragons Stefan Ekman’s Here Be Dragons is a book-length examination of the use of maps and settings in fantasy literature. Maps and settings. Which is to say that maps are not the sole focus of this work: mark that. There are four main chapters, only one of which deals with maps; the remaining three deal with the issue of borders and territories, the relationship between nature and culture in fantasy cities, and the relationship between ruler and realm. Taken as a whole, this book discusses the role of place in fantasy.

But I won’t be discussing that whole here: I am no literary scholar, and can’t say much of value about the chapters that do not discuss maps — nothing that would rise above the level of a last-minute undergraduate paper, anyway. But maps are something I can say something about, especially fantasy maps, since I myself have been paying attention to them over the past decade, first during my time blogging at The Map Room (see the Imaginary Places category) and since then more sporadically, but with more focus, for my fantasy maps project.

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The Sixteenth-Century Origins of Fantasy Maps

One of the things I’m interested in for my fantasy maps project is the origin of fantasy map design: where does that tell-tale fantasy map look come from?

Look at enough fantasy maps, and it’s hard not to notice certain commonalities in design. As Stefan Ekman demonstrates in Here Be Dragons (yes, I have a review coming — soon!), the maps that accompany fantasy novels tend to be characterized by a number of typical features. “Like much high fantasy,” he writes, “the secondary-world maps follow a pseudomedieval aesthetic according to which dashes of pre-Enlightenment mapping conventions are rather routinely added to a mostly modern creation.”1 Fantasy maps look nothing like medieval maps, and can in many ways be seen as the hybrid descendent of 19th-century amateur mapmaking and early-20th-century children’s book illustrations.

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Book cover: 2312 The Hugo Voter Packet includes electronic copies of the nominated works, including the one book nominated for best novel that we didn’t already own: 2312 by Kim Stanley Robinson. There was a time in the mid-1990s when I wouldn’t have missed a new novel by Kim Stanley Robinson, but I fell behind in the early 2000s, when I was reading less fiction; I still haven’t read The Years of Rice and Salt, though I bought it when it came out in hardcover, and I’ve only read the first of his “Science in the Capital” trilogy.

2312 reminds me of why I liked Robinson in the first place. Set three hundred years in the future, in the eponymous year, it’s a big-picture look at the solar system, at a grand scale, with digressions and essays, snippets and transcripts, in the style of John Dos Passos (John Brunner’s Stand on Zanzibar and Joe Haldeman’s Mindbridge being earlier science-fictional iterations of this style), dealing with terraforming on many worlds, interplanetary economics, artificial intelligence and the environmental rehabilitation of a substantially warmed and distressed Earth.

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2013 Hugos: Short Stories

Now that the Nebulas have been awarded and the Hugo Voter Packet has been released, it’s time to turn to the Hugo nominees. With my tendency to fall behind, I’d better get at this smartly, and I’ll start with the short story nominees.

You will remember that Aliette de Bodard won the Nebula in this category, for “Immersion” — a story I thought very highly of. But winning the Nebula doesn’t always make a story the favourite for the Hugo. Only seven times in the last 40 years (17.5 percent) has a short story won both trophies: before “The Paper Menagerie” by Ken Liu did so last year, the last story to win both awards was Connie Willis’s “Even the Queen,” 20 years ago. And “Immersion” is up against different competitors, because it was the only story to be nominated for both.

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My Own Private Westeros

Here’s someone building — by hand — a scale model of Westeros. Updated with photos at every step of construction. Madness! I approve. Via Boing Boing.

Older Entries

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