Saturday, 9 August 2008

An Atlas of Imaginary Worlds 10: Pellucidar and Others

Before I continue looking at Pellucidar and some other assorted maps I have turned up recently I have to put in a recommendation for the Fantasy Maps blog: On here you will find a thorough coverage of many fantasy worlds. It is a real delight to wander through and see what they have. In addition, as the blogger notes, it is an excellent resource if you happen to be reading a series and want to check up on where everything is.

This posting has been rather postponed. It was triggered by the release a couple of weeks ago of another movie version of 'Journey to the Center [sic] of the Earth', I thought it might be an idea to dig out some maps I ran across while looking for stuff on Pangaea and Antarctica. 'Journey to the Centre of the Earth' was written by Jules Verne in 1864. There has been a previous movie made in 1959. Edgar Rice Burroughs most famous for the 'Tarzan' series, he also produced the Barsoom Mars stories. In addition he wrote a series of books based in Pellucidar another world in a 'hollow' Earth. The movie 'At the Earth's Core' (1976), is based on the first book in the series, with the same title, which Burroughs published in 1914. It features the US actor Doug MacClure (1935-95) who seems to have made quite a career out of these fantastical movies which were a fad in the mid-1970s. He was in 'The Land That Time Forgot' (1975), 'The People That Time Forgot' (1977) - both based on Burroughs novels (both published in 1918 and both available online through a Project Gutenberg; there is a third in the so-called Caspak series called 'Out of Time's Abyss' published the same year) and featuring a lost island where dinosaurs still exist. He was also in 'Warlords of Atlantis' (1978) though that was initially a screenplay rather than a book, it was very much in the same ilk with a Victorian scientist travelling into an underworld environment with fantastical creatures. Anyway, I came across a whole slew of maps of Pellucidar (the word 'pellucid' means that something allows light through it or derived from that it is clear in meaning, I suppose it is related to text or speech being 'lucid') on the following website:

The site is interesting as it shows how maps for fictional worlds evolve and are re-interpreted as it features maps from 1915 (when what would become the novels were first serialised in magazines) to 2000. Pellucidar fits with views of the Hollow Earth that I have looked at on this blog before, having both an inner sun and a polar opening. I include here some for discussion, and the usual hunt for inland seas! For some reason this first map appears as a negative on the blog, but if you click on it then you can see it as black on white as it should be.

Empire of Pellucidar (1915)

This one was the first and shows just a little of what would later be revealed as the world of Pelludicar. It is shows the North-West coast of some sea filled with quite a few islands and numerous, unnamed cities, Mahar, being the people who inhabit them. I like the Unfriendly Islands which seems charmingly naive as is Land of the Awful Shadow and one would almost expect this world to be for a children's book rather than an adult one. The style is also remininscent of the one of Mongo that I have featured in a previous posting.

Map of Pellucidar (1929)

This one was also drawn by the author but he seems to not be very confident in expanding the world. We may be looking at an inland sea to the North-West of the map or one to the South-East. It is a bit disappointing that so much is unknown or unexplored. Perhaps he did not want to tie himself down. I also find 'Scale Unknown' to be irritating, but foregiveable. There is always a challenge in fantasy stories that you want huge sweeping continents, but then it takes months for your characters to cross them. I think he should have stuck to the peninsula he first features, but I suppose reader and publisher pressure led him to expand.

The World of Pellucidar (1966)

This tells us as much about reader expectations as developing ideas of the stories, especially in the 1960s when 'fantasy' as opposed to being a sub-set of science fiction, was coming into its own. The unexplored areas are now named and we still might have two inland seas, but they may just be long gulfs. The styling, in contrast to the simple maps of the pre-war era seems to try to indicate the fantastical nature with the creatures pictured on it.

Map of Pellucidar (1965)

In contrast, from the previous year is this very scientific map which, like the flag of the United Nations gives a picture of its world from hte North Pole. It also shows how comparatively small the original region that Burroughs featured was. In addition, the bodies of water one might thing were inland seas turn out just to be the ends of vast oceans, with more closed in seas elsewhere on the globe.

Pellucidar - From the 'Dictionary of Imaginary Places' (2000)

I used to own a copy of the 1980 German version of 'The Dictionary of Imaginary Places' by Alberto Manguel and Gianni Guadalupi, apparently it was reprinted in 2000 in English. I saw a similar book back in 1985, in English, but foolishly had no money to buy it and have never seen it again. This blog might be very different if I had taken some money with me that day. This map like the following ones focuses on the key continent of the novels. It is never clear if the term Pellucidar represents the whole world or just this continent. Again you can tell the date of this one by the style. Gone are the monsters but we have a pattern somewhere between scientific and artistic. I think there must be a challenge for fictional mapmakers not to make their islands look like creatures, we seem to have a hare at the southern end of the map and a pointy-nosed crocodile (sea predators 62 million years ago on our world) at the northern end.

The Empire of Pellucidar by Bruce Wood (2000)

This again reflects the kind of maps you can find in real cartography online with a sandy colour for the land and a bright blue for the sea. This again shows the main continent but portraying it much slimmer than the version above. It almost looks like some lost Greek island. It emphasises the dominance of the oceans over the land in Pellucidar, so in some way moves us away from Burroughs's focus.

Pellucidar Mapped on to Earth (1970)

This is perhaps the most 'scientific' of the Pellucidar maps by Frank J. Brueckel who has drawn lots of maps of the world. It tries to overlay it with our world. There is a difficulty with this because, if Pellucidar is within our Earth then its diameter must be less than ours. I do not know whether Brueckel took this into consideration. If you went straight up from two points on Pellucidar and came out our Earth, those two points would be farther apart than down on Pellucidar as the arc between them would be wider.

The Discworld

The Discworld is the setting of Terry Pratchett's (born 1948) incredibly long-running comedy fantasy story series, of currently 36 novels. The first was 'The Colour of Magic' (1983), though Pratchett had featured a similar flat planet in 'Strata' (1981), though it was a science fiction story the inhabitants of the planet did not know it had been artificially created. Pratchett features ideas from across numerous mythologies and popular culture. This planet rides on the backs of four elephants themselves on a huge turtle 'swimming' through space. Physics is very different on the planet with light flowing across the Discworld like a liquid rather than a beam or wave.
The Four Corners of Civilization

In contrast to most of the maps you find on the internet, this one is from a pretty new novel, in fact the next two stories in the series are not out until 2009-10. They are the Kingkiller trilogy by US author Patrick Rothfuss (born 1973). The books are: 'The Name of the Wind' (2007), 'The Wise Man's Fear' (scheduled for April 2009) and 'The Doors of Stone' (working title, scheduled for 2010). They are a fantasy auto-biography of musician-wizard called Kvothe. Rothfuss wrote it in 1991 as 'The Song of Flame and Thunder' but publishers felt it was far too long (even for a fantasy epic) and so he was advised to break it down. This map looks as if it could have come from a book published in the 1950s and I adore the pencil drawn styling. Peninsulas seem to be these days, but notice numerous large lakes (possibly inland seas?) and certainly a candidate for an inland sea in the South-West, there is also another archiepelago up in the North. Rothfuss could probably be seen as an uber-fantasist, given that he wrote such an epic by the time he was 18. I guess there is hope for all of those teenage geeks to put aside their Gor books and start writing something for themselves. As such Rothfuss draws on a culture which is well established and all good to him. I look forward to his future worlds.
The World of Malaz

This one comes from Steven Erikson (born 1959; pseudonym of Steve Rune Lundin which actually sounds a more fantastical name; maybe he thought having 'rune' in his name would make people think it was fake). This world is home to the stories in the cycle the Malazan Book of the Fallen. The core books of the series are: 'Gardens of the Moon' (1999), 'Deadhouse Gates' (2000), Memories of Ice (2001), 'House of Chains' (2002), 'Midnight Tides' (2004), 'The Bonehunters' (2006), 'Reaper's Gale' (2007), 'Toll the Hounds' (2008), 'Dust of Dreams' (forthcoming) and 'The Crippled God' (forthcoming) as well as some novellas. There is so much detail about this world, that I might as well point you directly to the wikipedia entry for the world (rather than the novels): have an empire born out of city-states which then becomes a colonial power and over-stretches itself, so a nice mix of Greek and Roman history, of course with magic and pirates.

This world looks like a bunch of islands, but you have to note the scale and the fact that it is actually a collection of spread out continents. Malaz is in the centre and pretty small. There looks like one inland sea on the western continent and there is an archiepelago beyond that to the North-West. I am bit concerned to see an area called Jhag Odhan, because in the fantasy novel I wrote in 1988 I had an Ijahg City (soon to be featured on this blog).

Eladraigne and Namarre on Erith

I encountered more along this line on a rather cobwebsite, Daelstrom's Melted Maps: which does not seem to have been updated since 2006. This has a very Celtic feel to it (and an inland sea or is it just a lake? Mirrinor), though the North-Eastern Nenian Sea presumably counts. There are two small archipelagos too. Anyway, this one comes from a female author, not that common, though as I began to think about it with Le Guin, Macaffrey and so on, there are a few. This is from The Bitterbynde triology by Cecilia Dart-Thornton an Australian author. The books are: 'The Ill-Made Mute' (2001), 'The Lady of the Sorrows' (2003), and 'The Battle of Evernight' (2003). There is not a lot online about this world, though there is already an online role-playing game set on the world. From the game you can see a range of races, with a mix of barbarians and more calmer peoples and elvish like races too, the 'Faeran'. The world as a whole is called Erith and Eladaraigne is the main kingdom which houses the Feorkind with its capital Caermelor (clearly reminiscent of Camelot). Namarre is inhabited by barbarians. So, it seems steeped in Celtic/early Anglo-Saxon culture.

Continent of 'The Way of the Tiger'

Rather than coming from a novel, this comes from a series of game books written by Jamie Thomson and Mark Smith called 'The Way of the Tiger' series. They were: 'Avenger!' (1985), 'Assassin!' (1985), 'Usurper!' (1985), 'Overlord!' (1986), 'Warbringer' (1986) and 'Inferno' (1987). Their world is called The Orb. They were like the Fighting Fantasy series of gamebooks (and in fact one in that series, 'Talisman of Death' (1984; republished 2006) also by Thomson and Smith also features The Orb), in that you select options and go to the relevant entry. There is a simple combat system that allows you to battle opponents using dice. Effectively they were a role-playing game for people travelling or had no friends. The interesting thing about this series is that it has an unashamedly Japanese setting, with the player being a ninja and he can draw on 'chi' (as in Tai-Chi; it is the Chinese for the Japanese word 'ki' as in Aikido) which is a mental/spiritual force used in Chinese martial arts. Despite these references to our world, the setting is fantastical with barbarians, an Assassins' Guild, rangers, paladins and a whole series of gods, many related to war or evil. I like this map which is very North-South orientated (perhaps to match Japan itself) but the large fjords of the Great Valley Reaches seem reminiscent of Norway. It is not clear if this is the extent of the contient or if The Sea of the Star is an inland sea. There are no archiepelagos visible.

The World of Xylae

This one I can find out little about, it came off another blog hosted on blogspot, by someone it seems is called Tang. Despite the name, this seems to have Nordic and Italian, rather than Chinese influences. It has a hand-drawn 1930s feel, though the waves and mountains look put in by computer. There are stories on the blog, but I did not stop to read through them and there was little reference to this place except its name and I have no idea how you would pronounce Xylae (maybe it is like 'Skylar' which I know is now sometimes a girl's name, I believe, particularly in Australia). One reason I picked on it is because it has a mega-inland sea and a whole chaos of archipelagos. This Latchader Sea seems closed at both ends and at the bottom, the Romund Sea could be another inland sea, though if that is a cape, I guess not, it is just another gulf in a larger ocean. Clearly the West is most inhabited, though if this is set on a globe then the cities to the East of the map might be quite close to those in the West. You would have expected a bit more about Romundland. The title describes it as the 'known world', so if it is a typical fantasy setting, then maybe there are more 'undiscovered' continents.

No comments: