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Sounds from “Underground”

A few years back I started a novel inspired by the London Underground Map. The “Tube” map, as it’s called by Londoners, is one of my favourite pieces of modernist design. Taken out of context it is a stunning work of art. So much so that the British artist, Simon Patterson, made a lot of money by swapping the station names of the original map with names of scientists, saints, philosophers, and even footballers (as in soccer!) for his lithograph, The Great Bear.

In context, the map is a beautiful piece of diagrammatic mapping, the lines and stations laid out in an easy-to-read visual structure that allows the first time user to choose their route quickly, to see the wood for the trees as it were, while hinting at just enough geographic shape for the native traveler to appreciate the map as an integrated whole, a representation not only of the rail network but of the vibrant, populous city above ground.

It was the map’s subtle display of the tension between those two dimensions (above and below ground) that inspired my novel, “Underground”. The manuscript is unpublished. In fact, it’s unfinished and sits at about 90 pages. Some day I will delve back in and finish the book. For now, here’s the first 20 pages or so.

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