The Fictional Maps That Fill Us With Wonder

From Kerouac to Brontë, Writers Have Imagined Intricate Geographies

“Maps are like good books,” writes historian of exploration Huw Lewis-Jones. They “are transporting: filled with wonder, possibility, adventure. … They allow us to escape to another place whenever we might want to, or need to. Books, like maps, are filled with magic.” His illustrated volume, The Writer’s Map: An Atlas of Imaginary Lands, celebrates both cartography and fiction by collecting maps featured in or inspired by stories, as well as essays by writers and map illustrators about their work.

Many of the maps are astoundingly intricate, yet leave room for …

Were Mr. Darcy and Boo Radley Anti-Social Misfits—or Autistic?

How Fiction Can Reframe a Misunderstood Mental Condition

Is autism cool?

It is in literature, as novels featuring characters on the autism spectrum have become so frequent that they’ve spawned a new genre: “autism lit,” or “aut lit.”

Many of …

How Mermaids Became a Real Problem for Scientists

Discovery Channel “Documentaries” About Mythical Creatures Erode Public Trust in Science and Government

“If NOAA is lying to us about the existence of mermaids then they’re definitely lying to us about climate change.”

It was August 2014 and I was flying home from the …

My California

In Novelist Edan Lepucki’s Home State, the History Is Fictional, the Terrain Is Otherworldly, and the Population Is United by Difference

In the story about myself, I was born in Santa Monica, in a rental on Sunset Ave. (yes, Avenue, not Boulevard). Early February, which is a bleak month elsewhere, but …

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo Isn’t Just Fiction Anymore

Today's Sweden Has Come to Resemble the Dark World Stieg Larsson Created for His Hacker Heroine

We are standing in front of a magnificent building at Fiskargatan 9 in Södermalm, Stockholm’s bohemian southern island. The penthouse once belonged to a controversial businessman, Percy Barnevik, the former …