Maps of the earth might be the most ubiquitous and recognizable type of map, but they also might be the most misleading and the most contested. There is the technical matter of projecting the planet, a three-dimensional object, onto the representational space of a two-dimensional plane, but at a more foundational level, we wonder: what is Earth?
Even the simplest answers aren't so simple. The earth is round, but has been argued—often elaborately and compellingly—to be flat, hollow, expanding, eternal, illusory, embedded in platonic solids, resting on the back of a turtle that’s resting on the back of a larger turtle, and so on. The earth has seven continents and five oceans, but these are constantly shifting. The earth’s seven continents were once one, but this too is an argument, a narrative constructed from fossil records and glacial deposits. Many argue the earth is headed for destruction while others deny this claim. Many argue the earth is 4.5 billion years while others, less than 10,000.
Earth as planet, resource, globe, home, miracle, stage, habitat, mother, matter, worry, birthplace, and resting place. The earth is the ground beneath our feet, but it is anything but sure. There is always the possibility of an alternate earth, one that inverts, flattens, or otherwise undoes this sense of groundedness and centrality. The question is not whether alternate earths exist, but which you choose to inhabit.
Here are a few we find especially intriguing: Agartha & the hollow earth, Another Earth (2011), Antiterra, Atlantis, Aztlán, alternate histories, Beasts of the Southern Wild (2012), bhavacakra, The Books of Genesis & Revelations, brane cosmology, cli-fi, Cosmographia, creation myths, deep time, disaster films, The Drowned World, Earth analogs & the Habitable Exoplanets Catalog, East of West, ecopoetics, ecumenopoles, eras & epochs, eschatons, the expanding earth, fictional universes, the flat earth & its societies, flood myths, geocentrism, The Global Village, heat death, The Heliocentric Worlds of Sun Ra, Hyperborea, hyperobjects, landfill, the last glacial maximum, Lemuria, ley lines, mappa mundi, Mother Earth / Gaia, Mu, the multiverse, Palm Islands, Panthalassa, parallel universes, Pax Germanica, post-apocalyptic fiction, Saṃsāra, sea-level rise, separatist movements, Solaris, The Southern Reach Trilogy, spirit worlds, supercontinents, T-O maps, terraforming, territorial disputes, tidal islands, unrecognized states, Waterworld (1995), the world tree, Yggdrasil, The Yiddish Policeman’s Union, Zealandia.
Issue VII will be published February 2018. To learn how to contribute, read our submissions guidelines.