We asked K. J. Parker to give us a legend to her long new novella, "Let Maps to Others", available free at Subterranean Online. She was more than happy to chime in.
One of the earliest references to maps concerns a man called Aristagoras, the leader of a Greek city in Asia Minor rebelling against Persian occupation in the 6th century BC. In search of allies, Aristagoras crossed the sea to Greece and, naturally enough, went straight to Sparta to ask for help. Everything was going fine until Aristagoras produced a flat bronze plate, on which was engraved a map of the Aegean. The Spartans, fearless warriors, were terrified by this strange and unnatural technology and sent him packing. So Aristagoras went to Athens, where they thought his map was the most wonderful thing they’d ever seen and promised him a fleet of ships. The ships were duly sunk, the furious Persians invaded Greece and burned Athens before being beaten and driven into the sea by a Spartan-led coalition.
That, essentially, is what maps do, if you let them. History is full of wild-eyed enthusiasts with maps, some of whom discover America and some of whom are Aristagoras, or worse. All maps have a cross to show where the treasure’s buried, and dragons round the edges. In ‘Let Maps To Others’ (an invented history based on true events with intent to deceive) I’ve tried to give fair warning, so that next time someone comes to you with a map, you’ll do the sensible thing and dump his dead body down a disused wellshaft.
At the same time, Locus Online published an in depth review of the novella, calling it "Very Highly Recommended", and saying this:
A brilliant and intriguing work, full of hidden documents, maps, codes, and forgery, as well as adventure, voyages mercantile and military, rivalry, politics, and war. There’s a high degree of historical verisimilitude, based on meticulous attention to realistic detail. Surely a person so aptly named as Aeneas Peregrinus ought to have existed! If only the author had taken advantage of the many opportunities for giving us her narrator’s name.