Google Maps of Sci-Fi

I’ve got a new post up on io9 this afternoon, and it might be of interest to readers here.
That post asks: Can fictional sites and spaces – in particular, things taken from science fiction – be included in online map sets, and what might the implications be? You look up “New York state” on Google Maps, but it includes a new layer of information: the routes and locations traveled by characters in Steven Spielberg’s War of the Worlds. Or you go to London only to find that the dashboard navigation system in your car includes all the major locations from The Day of the Triffids. In other words, if we can map science fiction into our cities, using online tools, how might that affect our experience of urban space?
These and other questions all pop up in Google Maps of Sci-Fi. Let me know what you think.

16 thoughts on “Google Maps of Sci-Fi”

  1. I find it immensely interesting, especially when there are street level view associated. It just adds more depth to the stories and I think will bring a new way to experience places (and also see how disjointed an unrealistic many things are when edited)

    One of the car blogs I read had an interesting link to
    this google map
    of the famous chase scene from the classic movie Bullitt. Which show how disjointed the chase was shot in real life to comprise the whole scene.

    It’s almost like a set of architectural drawings for the chase scene in map form.

  2. We have no problem with the past being shown on maps – eg Culloden field – so why not the future?

    And, there’s often two versions of each cinematic type future – where it purports to be and where it actually was. For example the curtain wall of Cardiff castle standing in as the base of the Statue of Liberty in Dr Who.

  3. I’ve been fascinated by this idea ever since I was a teen living in Hollywood and located “77 Sunset Strip” at 8524 Sunset Blvd. About that time Ed Ruscha published “Every Building on the Sunset Strip” (1965), an accordion style book of composited photographs anticipating the Google Map feature, Philip K. Dick published “The Simulacra” (1964), touching on the issue of simulated realities, and Jean Baudrillard was arguing that a simulacrum becomes truth in its own right–the hyperreal. Anyway, the route of the filming of the Bullitt chase scene and the adopted landscape of a novel isn’t in itself fiction, nor does it prevent one from finding one’s way. However, it’s interesting to imagine the confusion this sort of thing may cause in the future as it proliferates.

  4. Since GPS I miss being able to get lost. Maybe this is a way to use google maps to – oh joy of joys- regain the possibility of completely disorienting ourselves from time to time. Which reminds me of how in Paris I did the classic stupid thing, booked into a small left bank hotel, went out in the evening to grab a quick bite and then couldn’t find the hotel, couldn’t remember its exact name, and wandered the the streets until 4am when I finally stumbled across it again. Exhausting and not quite the flaneur experience I had envisioned, but nonetheless weirdly exhilarating.

  5. Nice project, Algo. I’ll have to check it out in more detail.

    Ian, that actually reminds me of my own first experience of Paris: it was my first genuine trip to a foreign city, and, being into poetry and what not at the time, reading Rimbaud and so on, I decided to go out and “get lost” – but about an hour into this attempt, I realized that I had actually succeeded, crossing over from “productively disoriented” to “holy shit,” and it took me another two hours or so to un-lose myself, as it were. But that initial realization, when you realize that you genuinely do not understand where you are or how you got there, is 1) amazing for as long as it lasts, which is never all that long, and 2) what it must feel like during the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease.

    And, Mike, I love-love-love the idea of mapping the future.

  6. The Eliot “Wasteland” project is very cool, though I expected post-industrial or post-urban wastelands, for some reason…

    I tackled some of this in an essay a couple of years ago on the theorizing about and mapping of Hollywood done by two films… Time Code and Mulholland Drive. The latter was fantastically frustrating as I drove around the city discovering that most of the addresses specifically provided in the film (emphatically stated in dialogue, etc) did not exist…. which, of course, was entirely about Lynch creating a sort of second-skin layer of a Dream Hollywood representing thoughts and imaginings about the city that are never borne out by its actual harsh concrete reality. I even appended a google map showing where several of the fictional sites would be, if they existed… like a random point up the in hills above where the real Sierra Bonita ends, for instance. In the end, it was great fun and made for a more interesting set of conclusions than would have resulted from all the film’s sites being mappable in a real-world sense.

  7. Google Earth, with its overlays, would probably be a better match for this than google maps. There are already all sorts of historical overlays, and it woudn’t surprise me if there are already some ones for fictional places.

  8. This discussion strongly reminds me of Guy Debord et al, and the Situationist/Lettrist urban “dérive” or drift through cities, for instance walking and purposedly getting lost while reading the map of another city! 🙂 Always loved the idea (but haven’t quite had the guts to try it out – yet..)!


  9. I find it sport hunting down what I see on my TV screen and marking that on GE.

    In the sci-fi vein, I have marked locations from the 1966 Fahrenheit 451 film (although technically , that film and story are not quite sci-fi).

  10. Why limit it to Sci-Fi? When I was studying in St. Petersburg, my Russian lit instructor took us on a walking tour of sites from Gogol’s Nose and Crime and Punishment. It was a fascinating walk.

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