Maps and Fiction

In the recording “Mapping” from This American Life, Ira Glass says that “Creating a map means ignoring everything in the world but one thing,” but in Peter Turchi’s Map of the Imagination: The Writer as Cartographer (2004), he states, “To ask for a map is to say, ‘Tell me a story.’” One example of a fantastic interactive story-telling map has been created for the HBO Original series Game of Thrones, based on the fictional series: A Song of Ice and Fire by George R. R. Martin. While the physical book provides a thorough map (above) and an appendix of the houses, the map created for the show allows for a seamless intake of knowledge about the different houses, their locations, family history and genealogy, and the trademark words and sigils for which they are recognized. The digital map allows you to experience the world, while the map in the book simply provides a reading reference. Looking at either of the maps will give you a hint into the massive fictional world of the Seven Kingdoms that has been in creation since the early 1990’s. With so many characters, each with a sprawling history, the physical map in the book is essential for readers to get a visual picture of the distance and size of this world, especially during times of battle when houses are joining and traveling to fight. For watchers of the series, the interactive map fills viewers in on some of the history that gets lost in translation to the screen. However, I must say the writers of the series did an excellent job thus far in maintaining the storylines from the book.

Lately, as I’m working on a children’s fantasy novel for my Master’s Project at Rowan University, I find myself thinking about maps a lot, particularly those related to fantasy fiction. In fact, I am in the process of creating a map both in my mind and on paper. The setting of my story is essential to the conflict in it, so I’m making a great effort to describe everything in detail. Moreover, the world I am creating is divided into different sections that each has specific attributes and functions. While I have the ideas (both recorded and in my mind) of what these sections look like, I am saving some of them for later books because I intend to make this into a series. As of now, I’m working off of rudimentary sketch of the land, and the rest of it is in my mind, waiting to unravel.

Another popular fantasy fiction map that I thought about while reading is the Marauder’s Map from Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (and sequential books). The Marauder’s Map is a map of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. It is special because it not only shows its readers secret passages in and out of the school, but it also tells them the precise locations of every single person in the school. Small footprints appear next to a floating name, so for example, Harry can see Professor Dumbledore pacing around in his study. The map is also magical in that it will only reveal itself when a witch or wizard points a wand at it and says, “I solemnly swear that I am up to no good.” When the user is finished with the map, he or she must clear its contents in the same manner and state, “Mischief managed.” But is the Marauder’s Map simply fiction? Yes, but Google is making all kinds of headway into the magical ability to see the location of those around you with a handy app called Latitude. Moreover, many social networking sites can now automatically post your location with your status update, and if you don’t want others to know, you can simply “check-in” when you feel the need to manage your mischief. Since many people carry their mobile devices with them at all times, the ability to track people with data from their phones is already a reality. Still, this technology lacks the finesse and attitude implored by Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot, and Prongs.

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This entry was written by slbrown85 and published on January 25, 2012 at 11:11 pm. It’s filed under Mapping and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

2 thoughts on “Maps and Fiction

  1. it is weird to think about “latitude” as sort of a maurader’s map.. i think the biggest difference is that fact that ANYONE can access “latitude”… hah.

    the “game of thrones” map is fascinating. i have not read the books or attempted to watch the series yet, but from what i have heard, people who read the book are constantly flipping back to the map. having a map that is 1. interactive with 2. a great amount of information that is easy to digest is infinitely more helpful to someone trying to understand the series.

  2. Fictional maps are always my fav..

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