Friday, August 16, 2013

Good Graphic Design

From an article in Cartographia. One of the better of examples of a graphic, which while being simple still conveys a wealth of information both visual and quantitative.
I actually have this around somewhere and should dig it up, dust it off and hang it.

Napoleon’s Invasion of Russia

Napoleon Bonaparte began his ill-fated 1812 invasion of the Russian Empire with 422,000 men.  With each step further into Russian territory, more and more soldiers died or deserted.  By the time it reached Moscow, Napoleon’s army had dwindled to 100,000 men–already less than a quarter the size it had been at the start.  During their disastrous retreat out of Russia, temperatures plunged to −37.5 °C.  Nearly half the remaining survivors of the invasion were killed during the botched crossing of the Berezina River.  Of the 422,000 men who set out on the invasion, barely 10,000 of them returned alive.
All this information is readily visible in the chart above, created by the French civil engineer Charles Joseph Minard, which ingeniously combined both a map of the campaign and a visual representation of the number of men remaining in Napoleon’s doomed army.  The thickness of the line is proportional to the number of men in the army (one millimeter equalling 10,000 men), with the beige section representing the offensive toward Moscow, and the black line the retreat.  Below, Minard also included a second chart showing the temperature on various days during the retreat (Minard used the RĂ©aumur scale for his temperatures, as was commonplace at the time.  Converted to Celsius, this makes the coldest part of the retreat a whopping −37.5 °C).  For a large view of the chart, click on the picture above.
Although Minard includes a description above his chart, it is almost completely unnecessary; all the pertinent information is readily apparent from a close examination of the chart itself.  Minard was a master at the production of maps such as these that combined tremendous amounts of data with geographic representations.  Edward Tufte, an expert in the visual display of quantitative information, has called this chart “probably the best statistical graphic ever drawn.”  More of Minard’s works will undoubtedly be featured here in time.
It’s also important to note why, on a blog about maps, the first post is in actuality more of a chart.  Although the most striking feature of the chart is the thinning line of soldiers, the map in the background plays an important role, showing the cities and rivers the army traversed on its way into and out of Russia.  This chart demonstrates how, with good planning a design, maps can operate in concert with many other types of information to create stunning displays of information.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Appendix N Resources

This comes courtesy of Wayne Rossi's blog. I just happen to have most of these already, but in case other folks don't or don't follow Wayne's blog here it is:

I've been getting back into some Appendix N type reading lately and wanted to do a purely useful post for anyone who wants to get into "Appendix N" fantasy. I found this list tremendously useful when I was in high school as it pointed me to a lot of great stories that I still love.

Entries where volumes are in (parentheses) are individual books I've added to general names and/or series titles. Where possible I've pointed to in-print books and collections.

I claim no responsibility for any shopping binges you may go on after reading this post.



Brackett, Leigh (The Sword of Rhiannon, The Ginger Star, The Hounds of Skaith, The Reavers of Skaith)

Brown, Frederic (Martians, Go Home, What Mad Universe)

Burroughs, Edgar Rice: "Pellucidar" series (At the Earth's Core, Pellucidar, Tanar of Pellucidar, Tarzan at the Earth's Core, Back to the Stone Age, Land of Terror, Savage Pellucidar); Mars series (Princess/Gods/Warlord of Mars, Thuvia/Chessmen/Master Mind/Fighting Man of Mars, Swords/Synthetic Men of Mars, Llana of Gathol, John Carter of Mars, Skeleton Men of Jupiter); Venus series (Pirates of Venus, Lost on Venus, Carson of Venus, Escape on Venus, The Wizard of Venus)

Carter, Lin: "World's End" series (The Warrior of World's End, The Enchantress of World's End, The Immortal of World's End, The Barbarian of World's End, The Pirate of World's End, Giant of World's End)


de Camp & Pratt: "Harold Shea" series; THE CARNELIAN CUBE

Derleth, August (The Cthulhu Mythos)

Dunsany, Lord (In the Land of Time And Other Fantasy Tales (includes Gods of Pegana), The King of Elfland's Daughter)

Farmer, P. J.: "The World of the Tiers" series (Volume 1, Volume 2); et al

Fox, Gardner: "Kothar" series (Kothar, Barbarian Swordsman, Kothar of the Magic Sword, Kothar and the Demon Queen, Kothar and the Conjurer's Curse, Kothar and the Wizard Slayer); "Kyrik" series (Kyrik: Warlock Warrior, Kyrik Fights the Demon World, Kyrik and the Wizard's Sword, Kyrik and the Lost Queen) ; et al

Howard, R. E.: "Conan" series (The Coming of Conan the Cimmerian, The Bloody Crown of Conan, The Conquering Sword of Conan) (Gygax neglected it, but Del Rey has his other work - The Savage Tales of Solomon Kane, Kull Exile of Atlantis, Bran Mak Morn: the Last King, El Borak and Other Desert Adventures, Sword Woman and Other Historical Adventures, The Horror Stories of Robert E. Howard)

Lanier, Sterling: HIERO'S JOURNEY (The Unforsaken Hiero)

Leiber, Fritz: "Fafhrd & Gray Mouser" series (Swords and Deviltry, Swords Against Death, Swords in the Mist, Swords Against Wizardry, The Swords of Lankhmar, Swords and Ice Magic, The Knight and Knave of Swords); et al

Lovecraft, H. P. (The Dreams in the Witch House and Other Weird Stories, The Thing on the Doorstep and Other Weird Stories, The Call of Cthulhu and Other Weird Stories - these are the Penguin editions with S.T. Joshi's introductions and notes; they are complete and superior versions to the scattered Del Rey books.)

Merritt, A.: CREEP, SHADOW, CREEP; MOON POOL; DWELLERS IN THE MIRAGE; et al (The Ship of Ishtar)

Moorcock, Michael: STORMBRINGER; STEALER OF SOULS (link is to recent Del Rey compilation of the original stires; also To Rescue Tanelorn, The Sleeping Sorceress, Duke Elric, Swords and Roses); "Hawkmoon" series (esp. the first three books) (The Jewel in the Skull, The Mad God's Amulet,  The Sword of the Dawn, The Runestaff)

Norton, Andre (Witch World and many others)

Offutt, Andrew J.: editor of SWORDS AGAINST DARKNESS III

Pratt, Fletcher: BLUE STAR; et al

Saberhagen, Fred: CHANGELING EARTH; et al (Book of Swords)


Tolkien, J. R. R.: THE HOBBIT; "Ring trilogy" (The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, The Return of the King) (also The Silmarillion)
Vance, Jack: THE EYES OF THE OVERWORLD; THE DYING EARTH; et al (Tales of the Dying Earth omnibus)
Weinbaum, Stanley (The Black Flame, The Lotus Eaters, A Martian Odyssey)

Wellman, Manley Wade (Who Fears the Devil?, Battle in the Dawn)

Williamson, Jack (Darker Than You Think, The Humanoids)

Zelazny, Roger: JACK OF SHADOWS; "Amber" series (The Great Book of Amber); et al (The Lord of Light, Creatures of Light and Darkness)