As seriously as most fantasy geeks (including this writer) take the genre, let’s face it: from Lord of the Rings to Dungeons and Dragons, it’s always been easy to spoof. Most recently, Sports Illustrated unveiled its Kingdom of Sports map, superimposing various owners, teams, and brands over Game of Thrones‘s continent of Westeros. But fantasy parody maps are nothing new: starting with the Harvard Lampoon‘s 1969 parody volume Bored of the Rings, the elaborate alternative universes dreamed up by authors are easily co-opted to parody either the original work or something entirely unrelated — like, say, Internet fiefdoms. From a Mario-ized version of Westeros to a composite map of virtually every fantasy universe ever imagined, we’ve compiled the cream of the map-parody crop. As fans of virtually every classic work satirized, we were more than a little amused.
Image Credit: Randall Munroe
This “Map of Online Communities and Related Points of Interest” from beloved webcomic xkcd transforms the very complicated, metaphorical geography of the Internet into a literal map of everything from social media to music sites to Wikipedia. It’s a shrewd breakdown of the Web’s internal divisions and the relationships between them.
Image Credit: Henry N. Beard, Douglas C. Kenney
First published in the 1969 Tolkien parody Bored of the Rings, this straightforward parody of the original pokes not-so-subtle fun at the often ridiculous-sounding names given to various locations within Middle Earth. Produced by the Harvard Lampoon, Bored of the Rings itself tells the story of Frito Burger and his wizard companion Goodgulf Greyteeth.
Originally posted to Reddit by user titan14 as “Game of Mushroom Kingdoms,” this map isn’t so much a parody as a very aesthetically pleasing crossover. A Song of Ice and Fire certainly looks less bloody when turned into a pixellated Mario-verse; all King’s Landing is missing is Princess Peach.
Making the rounds of both Reddit and Tumblr, this map by an unknown author has a little more bite to its satire, targeting the Eurocentrism or implicit racism of many classic fantasy novels. Considering the criticism Game of Thrones has received for depicting its only non-white characters as violent nomads, this map seems particularly relevant, if not the most artistically accomplished.
Image Credit: Rebeca Cyrineu
This composite map from Tumblr user Rebeca Cyrineu went viral last year for throwing together virtually every popular fantasy universe from the past half-century. As much as readers probably wish they could hop on a plane from Panem to Hogwarts or take a ferry from Narnia to Westeros, though, the map is sadly purely hypothetical.
Originally designed for a T-shirt (available for purchase on Threadless!) by Reagan H. Lee, this public transportation map subs out the regular stops on the London Tube for locations from Tolkien’s Middle Earth. Lines are even color-coded by kingdom, though surprisingly the Shire is yellow, not green.
Produced in 1985 for the computer game version of Bored of the Rings, this updated spoof of Middle Earth offers a few more landmarks for the enterprising gamer, including precisely labeled “dots” and “fields” and natural landmarks such as “the featureless plain below the pink mountains.”
In yet another parody from the Harvard Lampoon, the Hunger Pains reinterprets Panem, the post-apocalyptic homeland of heroine Katniss Everdeen, as “Peaceland.” Also split up into 12 districts, Peaceland is a little less PG, featuring a Red Light District and Ultimate Fighting District in place of the original’s plain old numbers.