The other day I ran into an interesting post regarding whether or not to include maps in works of fantasy and science fiction. Apparently some readers hate them. Not me! In fact, I’ve even considered adding them to my books, Flipka in particular.
The first edition I owned of the Lord of the Rings trilogy contained several maps which had the effect of further loosening my grip on reality. Thirteen years old and I still believed in elves and fairies. And there were maps so Middle Earth had to be a real place, right?
I wasn’t alone. There were thousands of us running around demanding to be called Arwen, dressed in medieval garb and smoking pipes filled with something other than tobacco. Of course, Tolkien was mortified by our behavior however it’s the price of success. Unless you’re a total narcissist, fame is a beast you can’t control.
I was surprised to read that many of Tolkien’s descendants considered Peter Jackson’s movie version of LOTR a complete desecration of his work. I’m of two minds. I’m a big fan of Viggo Mortensen but he was not my Aragorn. My Aragorn was a bit more – dare I say it – effeminate. (You have to remember – I was just exiting the Justin Bieber years.) My Aragorn did not have facial hair and looked a bit like Cary Grant, my then favorite movie star. Can you image Cary Grant as Aragorn?
The fact that we all have our own Aragorns and Arwens made it fool-hardy to try to interpret those books in film (with real humans!) and so for the most part I cut Jackson some slack. Gandalf was perfect, the Nazgul terrifying and who didn’t root on the Ents? Go get ’em trees!
Sometimes you need a map just to keep track of all the places and names in a book or television show. For example, the Game of Thrones:
My real passion however is antique maps, particularly if the place in question has special meaning for me.
This is a map of Monson Massachusetts circa 1879 which is around the time my great grandparents decided to make it their home. The drawings on the bottom are of the town’s finest establishments: Greens Hotel, the Reynolds Woolen Mill and Merrick, Fay & Co. Straw Works. All sadly no longer in operation. Old Monson hangs on the wall of my bedroom and greets me each morning with a kiss from those idyllic days of ice-cream floats and evenings spent watching Lawrence Welk with my grandparents. I never thought I would ever miss all those cheesy performers or the bubbles (talk about fantasy land!) but sometimes I wish I could jump into the map and return.
I bought the above map of Heidelberg Germany on a magic night long ago. We don’t get that many magic nights. Each and every one should have its own map.
If you had the chance to purchase an antique map of a special place, where would it be and why?