Visualizations of Imaginary Data in Science Fiction #SciFiSunday

If you’ve read The Hobbit, you’ve probably perused the map of Middle-Earth drawn by author J.R.R. Tolkien himself. Any map of Middle-Earth is a map of an imaginary place. For works of fantasy, this is the norm. It is essential to know how many leagues it is from the elves forest to the dwarves caves, and just how far you can travel until you encounter a mysterious forest. But what about science fiction? If fantasy gives you maps of imaginary places, science fiction can offer imaginary graphs populated with imaginary data. Here’s more from Science Fiction Ruminations:

Whatever form it takes, pseudo-knowledge—perhaps derived from our world or even “real” knowledge in our world modified and inserted into another imaginary one—adds, at the most basic level, a veneer of veracity. The most obvious category, and the one I am least interested in, is scientifically accurate theories and technologies extrapolated from present knowledge or applied to future worlds. Consult, and perhaps financially support, Winchell Chung‘s amazing resource Atomic Rockets if that literary technique fascinates you.

This post will focus on visual manifestations of pseudo-knowledge and the ways in which authors use the authority implicit in the table, diagram, chart, and form. This is far from an encyclopedic post and if there are any other charts, diagrams, forms, and tables that resonated with you I’d love to hear about them in the comments!

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