Oh, come on now!

The HarperCollins website has a free full preview of Erin Hunter’s first Seekers novel available at the moment. Given that I’ve enjoyed her Warriors book in the past, I didn’t see any point in turning down the chance to read this one, either. (Because heaven knows I don’t have enough books to read, right?)

So what do I see on the first few pages on the book, in the part that shows the map of just where the story takes place? This:

Notice anything a little… off about it? You will if you live in any of the Canadian martime provinces, at least the ones that aren’t Newfoundland.

Yeah. No border markings. Every single other Canadian province gets their border lines on the map, but New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island get lumped into some giant landmass that also incorporates some eastern American states.

Niiice…

And nobody can say that it was done that way because no part of the story takes place here. That may be true, but then why does Newfoundland get their border line?

I’m sure some of you think I’m getting my knickers in a twist over nothing, here. But let me put this in perspective. The maritime provinces get shafted for just about everything here, particularly New Brunswick. Concert tour going on? It comes east across the provinces, has a stop in Quebec before skipping New Brunswick and jumping right over to Halifax, Nova Scotia. It’s like we don’t exist. Even other Canadians practically ignore us, sometimes to the point of complete lunacy, like a city in Quebec claiming that it’s the oldest established city in Canada that’s still around. It isn’t. The city I live in is, Saint John. People landed and settled here long before they kept trekking west into Quebec territory, I can say that for sure.

Unless it involves and event in Halifax, or people assuming that all Canadians talk like Newfies, the maritimes are forgotten, passed over, ignored. And it bugs me. A lot. So to see it expressed like this, to acknowledge that the land is there but that the places within it aren’t even worthy of a few extra dots of ink on paper…

I’m pretty sure there are some people in Maine who are feeling the same way right now, too. Maine gets shafted about as much as New Brunswick does, I think. And it’s a shame, because we’ve got a lot to offer, if anybody would just notice that we’re here.

10 comments on “Oh, come on now!

  1. I would have to agree, and I speak as western Canadian (from Calgary). I've visited New Brunswick and you guys live in a beautiful province with warm and friendly people. Probably the only true bilingual province im my opinion.

    Jennifer

  2. Does it matter?

    The book is about bears.

    Sorry, but this is nitpicking of the highest order to me.

    YOU know where the borders are, so why does it matter?

    And actually Quebec City IS the oldest. It was established (as a city from the outset) in 1608.

    Saint Jonn, NB was FOUND in 1604 as a ragged settlement of a few people but wasn't even considered a village at that point. It wasn't fortified till 1631, thus making it a fort and still not really a village. It actually didn't become a major settlement (worthy of much note) until 1783. Sorry, but only a small group of people ever populated the place where Saint John now stands at the time of the discovery of QC.

    I would also argue that the maritimes get plenty of attention (I live in Ontario). Most of Canada's most successful artists come from the maritimes. We all hear about the maritimes quite often over here. Our news covers events and cultural occurrences in all the maritime provinces, people travel all over those provinces from the rest of Canada because it is so beautiful and in fact the tourist industry is one of your biggest imports. To have such sour grapes about the way your province is viewed is kind of a silly thing. You live in a very small province (one of our smallest). There is no major seat of government there, nor is there anything exporting other than sealife/food.

    So what is the claim to fame that needs to stand out? Tourism to a beautiful province that is lovely to visit…and it DOES stand out. The rest of Canada (and people from the rest of the world) know that what the maritimes do best is play host to travelers looking to see the shore. what else is there? what else are you looking for? Will Saint John ever be percieved like Toronto, Vancouver, or Montreal? No. Why? Because it's nowhere NEAR as large, nor does it have the draw of those cities. They are all 3 huge and have many many attractions and reasons to visit.

    The argument about concerts is a mute point. Production companies that book acts into places for concerts ask extortionist prices most times, and your city simply can't afford it, whereas other bigger cities can do so, and have the populace to sell out the venue (and the merch associated with it). Why do New York, Chicago, Detroit, Baltimore, Philly ect…get preference in the States over smaller cities and communities in the country (thus making them have to drive for sometimes hours to see an act)? Same reason. money, and enough people to drive ticket sales.

    Basically it's like this. You live in Saint John. It's small, quaint, and lovely. You either accept that it will never be Montreal or New York City, drive to the closest concert and then return home…Or you move to a bigger city that gets more notice. Unfortunately you kind of have to accept this as the status quo for a smaller city.

  3. No offense, Scott, but I think you're kind of missing my point. To say that if I don't like it then I can move is kind of a bad comeback – for one thing, I can't. I do live in a small province, yes, which is a problem, because we get little representation and little defense in the way of government. But I'm not just talking about one city or one province here. I'm talking about a few provinces which are ignored a good amount of the time. Know how Canada gets treated like the wussy younger brother of America? The attitude is much the same, and it isn't much easeir to swallow.

    Also, Saint John was found as a ragged settlement settlement? Maybe so, by that time, though I still contend that people settled here and made it home before people went further inland. The dates you quoted confirm that. It's arguing semantics, of course, but I still think it's a valid point that tends to get overlooked.

    I'm also not saying that Saint John should become the next Toronto. I'm not even holding a beef with Fredericton for having more educational opportunities than Saint John. I am, however, saying that it would be nice to at least have the provinces outlined on a mildly-edited stock-image map in a book.

    There is no major seat of government there, nor is there anything exporting other than sealife/food.

    And lumber. And labour. And tourist dollars.

    It would also be nice to have minimum wage that doesn't suck (NB only recently rose from a position tied for lowest min wage across all of Canada, and the highest difference between minimum wage and cost of living; now I actually feel pretty bad for BC for having the lowest min wage in the country), and for our labour laws to get updated so they're a little more comparible to what people get in central or western provinces. Larger provinces get preferential treatment – call me crazy if you like, but that seems neither fair nor justifiable.

    I still see more news from everywhere else in Canada more than I see news from the maritimes, unless it's a local news station. Some of Canada's best artists came from this region? True. But more come from elsewhere, bigger places with more opportunities. Which is fine, and more power to them. I'm not saying that's a bad thing. I'm just saying that it really sucks that a good number of people consider themselves lucky when people don't act like Canada goes no further east than Quebec.

    Saint John's actually not that small. Sure, it is when you compare it to places like Toronto, but as far as cities go, I've seen smaller. We're a decently-sized port city. It's not small, it's not what I'd call lovely, and quaint, well, perhaps, but I'd apply that to places like Sussex more than SJ. It's not like we're a little isolated community in the backwoods.

    No offense, guy, but your argument against mine seems to, in a nuthshell, say, “Your province/region isn't of interest to anyone and you're not allowed to complain about it. Like it or leave it.” I do like it here. It isn't a bad place to live. It is, however, largely ignored. Even by our own freaking government. And if anyone tells me I'm supposed to like THAT treatment, I'll tell them where they can shove it.

  4. It's not just Atlantic Canada that's screwed up. The Manitoba/Nunavut border is missing, the Manitoba/Ontario, Ontario/Quebec, and Quebec/Labrador borders are misplaced, and Churchill should be right on Hudson Bay not inland as shown. The positioning of Winnipeg, Ottawa, Montreal, Quebec, Boston, and New York all seem off. PEI seems to be missing entirely. It wouldn't surprise me to learn there are other errors that aren't readily apparent to me.

    It looks like someone really screwed up when making the map, period, not just a deliberate snub at Atlantic Canada. Quite frankly, I find the entire map offensive, and it would put me off buying the book.

    Also, if it's supposed to represent reality, why bother to include it? I can easily find a real map to look at if I feel the need for a reference.

  5. The problem then becomes, what are you doing about your complaints?

    Yeah, you can live where you live and enjoy it, but if it isn't getting noticed enough for you…then what are you going to do about that? Do you have interest in setting the politics about that right? Or are you complaining about a book map?

    I never said your province wasn't of interest to anyone. In fact I was saying quite the opposite, that people do indeed enjoy the maritimes and there is a healthy tourism backbone there….I'm saying that the world is run by businesses…and those businesses need a REASON to invest their time and money. Smaller places get the short end of the stick. I'm not saying it is right. I'm saying it's a fact. A sad one, but still a fact. The only thing you can do to change that (enjoying where you live) is to get involved in the politics of how your province is represented to the world. The federal govt. of Canada doesn't give a rats bottom about the provinces as entities. their concern is about the big picture. Stephen Harper doesn't care. So, you are left with the provincial govt. If your premiere were doing his job and the MP's of your city were hounding him then maybe something would change your view….but it won't unless enough people complain. That's a tough task, but also not impossible.

    My comment was mainly stating, if rather flatly, that your post is nitpicking about lines on a map.

    Why do you need a map in a FANTASY book to be so accurate?

    This is a book where a bear can shapeshift….and you're looking for accuracy of a map of Canada.

    I didn't mean to offend you with my comment. As a fellow blogger I just saw a post that I disagreed with…and as a student of history your comments about first cities ect. urked me as it was incorrect. It's NOT semantics at all actually. Look it up in any history textbook and you will find my dates to be accurate.

    It was, however, not my intention to upset you. I didn't think I came across as nasty, but if I did then I'm sorry.

    As a reader, I wouldn't have looked twice at the map being inaccurate (to be honest) even though (as Arithonne mentioned) the border between Manitoba and Ontario is missing! GASP!

  6. Scott, I can understand Ria's complaint about the map not being accurate. If it's supposed to be a reflection of reality, then it should be accurate. Otherwise it seems (to me, at least) like there was a lack of effort put into the map that I would expect to see reflected in the prose of the book. Personally, I don't like books where I'm constantly picking out errors.

    If, however, it's not supposed to reflect our reality but the reality of an alternate history, then that should be represented by more than just things being missing or in the wrong place on the map.

    Personally, I think that maps should add something to a book if they're going to be included. The only thing this one seems to add is the possibility of creating offense and providing a misrepresentation of parts of Canada and the US. As such, I wonder at the wisdom of including it.

  7. I get that, but it is almost like when folk complain that every city or village mentioned in an Erikson Malazan book isn't represented. At what point does it cease to become relevant in the map right? I mean, if none of the book takes place in certain places then why must it be represented?

    As far as representation, were I the author I'd be miffed at the idea that someone would discount my book and the fiction therein due to the map. If it's alternate history or something like that…why does the map need to represent it up front…why can't the text speak for itself? As another aside about the matter and speaking directly to you not wanting to read it because of that….the author themselves have very little to say about the map or it's inclusion in the book…unless they drew it themselves. Otherwise the publisher handles that. So not reading the volume makes the author suffer when it's wholly not their fault.

  8. Oh, I'm not discounting the novel. I'm still reading it, as I like what I read of that author so far. The map just touched a nerve with me; it'd take a lot more than that to convince me not to read a book! :)

  9. I don't think that every city or town has to be on a map to make it relevant, and I do feel that too many details just make the map cluttered and harder to read. If it's a map of an entire continent on a paperback sized page, you probably don't want more than countries and the largest landmarks.

    As far as a bad map influencing my decision to buy a book? Every time I catch an error in a story it throws me out of the flow. I freely admit it's a pet peeve of mine. If I expect to encounter a lot of errors, I avoid the book. Seeing something like that map, where my first reaction on seeing it is “that's WRONG” makes me think there will be lots of errors in the text. I have limited time in which to read; I'm going to avoid things I think will hit my pet peeves.

    As for whether including the map is the author's or publisher's choice? I have no idea what is generally the case, or what is the case in this instance, and I really don't care. I feel that the publisher's job is to ensure that there are a minimum of errors in the books, and my understanding is that authors play a role in that when they go over the proofs. I assume that maps are included in those proofs, and that several people missed all the errors in that map, which alone is enough to trigger my avoidance response.

    There's an easy solution to the problem of erroneous maps in works of fiction causing people to not read the book: don't set the work of fiction in a world that is a reflection of reality. That way the map can't ever be obviously wrong at first glance.

  10. Turns out our arguments here are moot. I checked out the book in the store and it isn't Canada at all. At least not from a human standpoint. Thus, the map can have lines where it wishes and this is likely why it looks as strange as it does.

    :)

    Still, fun to discuss!

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