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Saturday July 26, 2014
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Imaginary Maps

 

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Maps of fantasy realms range from archetypical row-of-pointy-mountains, ribbony-serifs Lord of the Rings-style maps to a Guild Wars map evoking Google Earth realism. Some of the exhibit's most charming, rough-hewn maps pertain to such old-school computer games as the Legend of Zelda and the pioneering walk-through fantasy game Myst. "There was a time when you had a hard time finding a computer powerful enough to play Myst," says Franklin. "Now, it's hard to find one old enough to play it."

Map Library information resources specialist Timothy Utter says his favorite is the French card game, which dates to 1669. Preserved as an uncut sepia paper sheet of several dozen cards, the game assigns one suit to one of four major geographical regions, with hearts for Europe and clubs for the Americas. Each card asks one quiz question about the rivers, mountains, or other geographical features of that region, in delicate copperplate script.

Fancy script also appears on the large paper map of the fictional world Aarklash. A sprawling continent is peppered with cities whose names are rendered in calligraphy in various styles, evoking a range of imaginary cultures.

Some maps are not just renderings of imaginary worlds, but game pieces, such as a map showing a Lord of the Rings version of Risk (above). The work offers a stylized version of the classic LOTR maps, which originally were drawn by author J. R. R. Tolkien's son Christopher.

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