Saturday, April 01, 2006

Imaginary Cities*

This was on boingboing, but I didn't know that until after I found it in another blog. It's a film about an autistic young man who has drawn an imaginary city called Urville. I love imaginary landscapes. The maps in Lord of the Rings, for example. There is something science fictional about it, the meticulous construction of a world.

I find A.G. Rizzoli's work to have some of the same appeal. He didn't draw cities, but instead drew buildings which he apparently saw a psychological portraits of people. But he also drew an 'exposition', a kind of world's fair, that he called Y.T.T.E. or Yield to Total Elation. It was full of extraordinarily huge buildings, including The Shaft of Ascension, "in which Euthanasia is available to those desiring and meriting a pleasant painless bon voyage from this land."

I don't world build anymore. It's a different kind of narrative for me. When I was in high school I used to draw maps of archipeligos--strongs of islands with careful topographical lines showing the elevations and rivers that cascaded into waterfalls (the topographical lines clustering at the point where the river went over the edge.) There is something wonderful about this kind of static world.

*with a nod toward's Ben Rosenbaum's book of the same name.


Blogger mary grimm said...

I love books with maps,imaginary or otherwise, or house plans like the ones that used to be in British country house mysteries.

April 02, 2006 10:49 AM  
Blogger Jason Erik Lundberg said...

Thanks for the link to the film, Maureen. I saw the BB post about the guy himself, and find the story fascinating.

I'm of two minds about world-building. Our own world is surreal and strange enough without having to invent other worlds to explore. But at the same time, that act of creation is intensely interesting for me, and I'm in fact doing that for my current novel. The story could in fact take place in a real location, but I don't feel I know enough about that location and its people to do them justice; so I make it up instead.

April 02, 2006 11:12 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maureen - Since you've been writing for video games, I thought you might find this interesting:

In it, Dylan Horrocks uses world-building to build a bridge between fiction/comics/video games. I read this essay when I was a junior in college and knew nothing about world-building, comics, RPGs or fantasy/sci-fi fiction...and it pretty much blew my mind.

April 02, 2006 12:40 PM  
Blogger Maureen McHugh said...

Austin, it makes me want to play D&D again.

April 02, 2006 4:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maureen, why don't you world-build anymore? It seems like most of us who gravitate strongly towards sf/fantasy have had that experience of map (or should I say Map) making, triggered by Tolkien or what-have-you. Does it get sublimated or changed...?

Wasn't 'Mission Child' world building? Or do you mean narrowly in the mapmaking sense?


April 03, 2006 10:08 AM  
Blogger Maureen McHugh said...

In the map-making, angle of planetary tilt, strange religion way I don't do much world building anymore. And I never world built that way in my books. All the world building in Mission Child is narrow focus, just what Jan sees and thinks, so there's no real attempt to more than suggest economies and religions.

But in another way, as the Horrocks essay that Austin cited points out, even when I write realistic fiction, I'm still world building in some ways. But it's nice to be able to say 'a car whizzed by' and know that sentence instantly evokes something for the reader that I don't have to explain. There's only so much room on a page, and while the pleasure of a strange world is a good readerly experience, right now I guess I'm more narrowly focused than that.

April 03, 2006 2:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

^^ nice blog!! ^@^

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