The sunless city … from the papers and diaries of the late Josiah Flintabbatey Flonatin, Esq. : a tale.

I ran across an inset map of Flin Flon while cataloging the Major producing mines in Canada mapproduced by InfoMine and published jointly with MINING.com.

The geosciences are sometimes fictionalized in novels and film. But the process works in reverse too, and fiction becomes fact, as in the case of Flin Flon, Manitoba. Flin Flon is a prospector in the novel The Sunless City by J.E. Preston Muddock, and became the inspiration for the name of a mining town in Canada.

Saying Flin Flon seemed as fun as saying flim flam. To the OED! Flim flam’s  Etymology:

One of the many onomatopoeic reduplications with vowel variation expressive of contempt; compare fidfad, skimble-skamble, whimwham

It would be easy to get lost in the fli section of the OED (1611 R. Cotgrave Dict. French & Eng. Tongues at Coquette, A pratling or proud gossip; a fisking, or fliperous minx) … or in all of the reduplications with vowel variations: flip flop, flip flap, flippy flappy, flipperty flapperty…

It’s unreal!

Cataloging maps can be intense. Maps are dense with information, cataloging is dense with rules.

And maps don’t even have to be “drawing or other representation of the earth’s surface or a part of it made on a flat surface” (OED)! Maps can be fictional or imaginary, can be proposed visions of reality.

The existence of fictional maps was an obvious, but overlooked, complication. I took for granted the maps published on the inside of book covers or inserted casually into text.

What do creators of these imaginary maps consider to be a map? Are the creators thinking of scale, relief, data, projection, surveys? I admit that I have always looked on these maps as interesting illustrations, drawings that were more aesthetic than informative or accurate, drawings that were creative and crude, calligraphic and sketchy, much like the culture at a Renaissance Faire.

The Library of Congress classification system has provided headings for Imaginary places, e.g. Middle Earth (Imaginary place). A quick browse through the headings to describe the imaginary, mythical, fabled, and fantastic quickly turns unreal. Imaginary bookplates. Imaginary books and libraries. Even Imaginary conversations, which could catalog the imaginal dialogues about this blog.

Others outside the library realm, such as Jonathon Crowe, have asked their own questions about Maps in Science Fiction and Fantasy.