I used to wonder why books lightly touching on the history of cartography often resort to using the above image as “Ptolemy’s map of the world.” Claudius Ptolemy lived during the second century AD; the map that demonstrates his work obviously comes from the Renaissance (1482, to be exact). Surely reproductions existed from manuscripts closer to Ptolemy’s time? Most reference works I came across, like encyclopaedias and high school textbooks, don’t explain the stylistic mismatch or even credit the source of the image at all.
In the 1967 introduction to The Book of Imaginary Beings, Jorge Louis Borges and Margarita Guerrero make a suggestion on how to approach the text:
Like all miscellanies…The Book of Imaginary Beings has not been written for consecutive reading. Our wish would be that the curious dip into it from time to time in much the way one visits the changing forms revealed by a kaleidoscope. (xv)
I didn’t follow this ideal reading pattern, instead diving in from cover to cover through 116 different beasts that were either once believed to exist or wholly imagined. While a straight reading defeats the purpose of a miscellany, in a sense, it does give you a feel for the motivations behind arranging such a collection. Borges and Guerrero were assembling a wonder book in a world rapidly lacking in wonders of the imaginative sense. In this, The Book of Imaginary Beings shares the fundamental driving force behind wonder books of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. However, while these earlier European authors were intent on eliciting wonder at God’s creation, this collection looks to elicit wonder at the creations of the human imagination throughout the ages. Continue Reading »
Last night was the first time I stayed up late to watch the Hugo Awards Ceremony livestream, something I didn’t plan to do but ended up doing anyway. Strangely, Worldcon fell on the same weekend as Yukomicon, leading to a confluence of interests on local radio and the stuff I read on the internet.
I have been lukewarm about the Hugos in the past. This is mostly just a matter of taste–since I started following the Hugos in real-time (i.e. the past decade), the type of fantasy and science fiction I enjoy rarely makes the ballot. And that’s okay, my tastes are weird, and it was nice to have a reliable barometer of what was popular among sff fandom the previous year. This time, there was a concerted effort by folks calling themselves the Sad Puppies to push more “rollicking adventures” onto the shortlist via slate voting in the initial nomination process, but since their tastes aren’t aligned with mine either (many of the works nominated were in no way rollicking adventures), we ended up with a shortlist that I found even more unpalatable.* So why was I invested in the result?
A while back on the podcast, I said you can’t find me on Twitter and that you never would.
Oh, how quickly situations can change!
I had to finally admit that I lost a (not insignificant) chunk of readers when Google Reader shut down in 2013, and that a lot of people didn’t migrate to alternative RSS readers like Bloglovin’. Instead, links from Twitter were filling in the void.
So, now you can follow the blog and podcast @onelastsketch. I’ve included a link on the sidebar as well. This will mostly be an informational feed announcing new blog posts, web serial installments, podcast episodes and short stories.