Tuesday, May 17, 2016
Let's Talk About Maps
Last week as I was putting together my Cover Characteristics post on Maps, I got to thinking more about maps in fantasy books. Everyone knows you can't have a good epic fantasy without a map of the world, but you don't see them nearly as much in urban fantasy or most science fiction. And that's fine, because you don't usually need a map in those books I guess- but I think a good map adds so much to a story.
If I'm reading epic fantasy I can't tell you how many times I flip to the front of the book to consult the map. Can you imagine reading Lord of the Rings without the map? The world building and scope of the setting almost demand it. Plus it's fun to see the setting realized before your eyes in map form. So yeah it's a no brainer. The other time I like to see maps is in books with animal protagonists. Take The Warriors for example by Erin Hunter- those books about cats have a world map that's pretty simple but just detailed enough to bring their world to life a little more. You can check them out here.
Do urban fantasies ever have maps? Since UF tends to take place in the real world and/ or city environments, it might be fun to have a map of relevant areas. Same with science fiction. If a story takes place on a generation ship with multiple levels, or in a spaceport city on a far away colony, or a cyberpunk noir future, it seems like a map could only add to the story.
So... how do you feel about maps? Do you stare lovingly at a map of Middle Earth or your favorite world and wish you could go there? Share your favorite maps in the comments.
Here are some of my favorite maps.
You can find an interactive map here -clicking on a region takes you to a close up. Very nice.
Here's a close up view of one of the regions.
BONUS - this expanded map of Middle earth has always been a favorite of mine. It was published as part of a roleplaying line years ago and obviously depicts more of the eastern lands than you usually see in Middle earth maps. I have no idea if this is considered official at this point, but it may have been at the time it was published. Who knows? You can find a large version here, with the ability to zoom in anywhere on the map. Definitely worth a look.