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Mapping the World of Harry Potter: Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers Explore the Bestselling Series of All Time

4.3  ·  Rating details ·  2,109 Ratings  ·  52 Reviews
With up-to-date information through book six in the series, this companion volume offers a comprehensive look at the world of Harry Potter through the eyes of leading science fiction and fantasy writers and religion, psychology, and science experts.
Paperback, 195 pages
Published December 11th 2005 by Smart Pop
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Nov 21, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
i'm such a potter nerd. i think about it too much and too deeply. i'm the person who's annoyed that harry uses 'lumos' at the beginning of the third movie without getting in trouble for doing magic out of school. therefore, it was realy nice to read deep, intelligent analysis of different facets of the stories. it was like talking to a smart friend who's equally obsessed. highlights were the essay about dumbledore and the 'old man's mistake', the essay about religion, wonder, the universal appea ...more
Gina Denny
Nov 15, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy, non-fiction
Why did no one tell me this series of books existed? Academic folks, professional writers and editors talking about the science/social sciences, history, and constructive background of books, tv, and movies??? YES PLEASE. I went to Smart Pop's website and found, like, twelve more of these that I just HAVE to read in the next year.

That all said, there are a couple flaws with this particular installment. The essays in this book were all written after Half-Blood Prince was published, but before De
Mar 24, 2011 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Harry Potter fans, people who like alternate endings, armchair philosophers
Mapping the World of Harry Potter is an anthology of essays from fantasy and science fiction authors that explore different facets of the Harry Potter series. They only cover material through Half-Blood Prince, so not only do they examine some crucial elements of the stories, there are some interesting hypotheses on the different ways the series could have ended as well.

I found all of them to be interesting, though in varying degrees. Some cover religion (or really the lack thereof), some look
Carmen Maloy
Oct 22, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: All HP fans
"Mapping the World of Harry Potter" is a great addition to any Harry Potter collection. The essays are diverse and hit many subjects, some obvious, like the problems of religion (or lack of) in the series. For instance, "Harry Potter and the End of Religion" targets what the author sees as a complete lack or need for religion in the books, while "It's All About God" defends the religion within, saying that the series is, indeed, spiritual in a natural sense. Another essay, "Hermione Granger and ...more
Jun 13, 2010 rated it really liked it
Mapping the World of Harry Potter: An Unauthorized Exploration of the Bestselling Fantasy Series of All Time, edited by Mercedes Lackey

Complete through book six, "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince," this collection of essays takes a look at why and how the Harry Potter series appeals or angers people. There are essays on religion, education, politics, feminism, and more.

"Mapping the World of Harry Potter" mostly added to my enjoyment of J. K. Rowling's series; some of the essays gave me a
Apr 28, 2014 rated it really liked it
Mapping the World of Harry Potter is a collection of essays, serious and funny, about the Harry Potter books, written by a variety of Science Fiction authors. It was published in between the release of the fifth (The Half-Blood Prince) and final book (Deathly Hallows).

The essays are of differing quality and appeal and no doubt will appeal to different people differently. And of course there is the added humour of speculations on how the series will end - some way off base, others uncannily accu
Nov 23, 2016 rated it really liked it
This book is a compilation of literary essays by authors on different aspects of the Harry Potter world. I found it enlightening and fascinating, and sometimes disturbing as far as Snape's essay. It really made me think of many aspects that previously hadn't occurred to me, and it was fun watching the authors' guesses as to the outcome of the story, since at the time of publishing, the 7th book had not been released. A definite must-read for any Potterhead!
Daniel A.
Full disclosure: I've read essays in other volumes in BenBella Books' Smart Pop series, primarily because said essays were written by friends of mine or authors I follow on Facebook or such. But Mapping the World of Harry Potter was the first time I've ever set out to read such a collection cover-to-cover, and I'm happy to say that most of the essays in this collection hold up to serious literary scrutiny.

When Mapping the World of Harry Potter came out, J.K. Rowling had only released the first
Jul 05, 2008 added it
Questa raccolta di saggi, opera di un gruppo di scrittori di fantasy e fantascienza, riunisce tredici diverse prospettive critiche su aspetti particolari dell'"universo Harry Potter". La fortunata serie di romanzi di J.K. Rowling viene inquadrata nell’ambito del genere fantasy, affrontando sia tematiche di ordine generale riguardo la ricezione dell’opera (Harry Potter e la religione – comprese le recenti esternazioni del papa e dei Teocon americani –, Harry Potter e la politica, Harry Potter com ...more
Snail in Danger (Sid) Nicolaides
A generally well-conceived book of essays, though they are hampered by having only been written with the events through Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince in mind. (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows hadn't been released yet.)

A while ago I read an interview with Ursula K. Le Guin where she remarked rather testily that, hello, Harry Potter is part of a long tradition of British boarding school novels, so what is all the fuss about? (I'll try to find a link if I saved one at the time. I foun
Feb 02, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
BenBella Books has a series of anthologies out called "The SmartPop Series." The idea is that they get well-known writers (of science fiction and fantasy mostly, but there are some exceptions) to write essays about a particular pop-culture topic, and place those essays in the hands of a well-known author who acts as editor. I finished reading Mapping The World of Harry Potter last night. Edited by Mercedes Lackey, the essays run the gamut from sociological (Hermione Granger and the Charge of Sex ...more
Aug 13, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, set_aside
Skimmed or read:
-- Harry Potter and the young man's mistake / Daniel P. Moloney
-- The Dursleys as social commentary / Roberta Gellis
-- To Sir, with love / Joyce Millman
-- Hermione Granger and the charge of sexism / Sarah Zettel
-- Harry Potter and the post-traumatic stress disorder counselor / Mercedes Lackey
-- Why killing Harry is the worst outcome for Voldemort / Richard Garfinkle

Didn't have time for:
-- Harry Potter and the end of religion / Marguerite Krause
-- It's all about God / Eli
Jan 10, 2008 rated it liked it
This collection of essays regarding the HP books (through book 6) is pretty hit or miss. All of the authors touched on interesting issues, but most of the essays seemed to barely scratch the surface. I think the fact that many of the pieces were in personal essay form (and not academic) made it seem like I was reading the essays or theory boards on a Harry Potter fan site, when I would have preferred a well-constructed and researched article. I found myself torn between wallowing in pure nerd-do ...more
Eric Juneau
Nov 22, 2010 rated it really liked it
This was written before "Deathly Hallows" came out, so a great deal of the essays deal with now defunct speculation over "what will happen?" Even so, it's still fun to see what people were thinking and how many of their predictions were eerily accurate. For example, one suggests that Harry must fight Voldemort alone, that Harry will not die, that Harry will die, that Neville will take a larger role, that Hermione and Ron will get together, that Snape is not as evil as "Half-Blood Prince" made hi ...more
Aug 21, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Librarian, Leaky Cauldron listeners, Harry Potter affectionatios
Recommended to Tracy by: Found this book at the library
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sep 05, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: any serious Harry Potter fans wanting a light critical overview
Shelves: books-on-books
This is a very solid collection of short (and very sweet) essays that cover a fair amount of territory on the first 6 books of JK Rowling's masterpiece. The authors are all in sympathy with the works -- no harsh criticisms here -- and explore a great many of the themes that make the works so special. My favorite pieces are the two somewhat contrasting essays on religion (or lack thereof), and the feminist response to the character of Hermione Granger. Most of this is well-written and thought-pro ...more
Mar 06, 2010 rated it really liked it
I think an alternate (and arguably more appropriate) title for this book would be "In Defense of Harry Potter." This has nothing to do with maps, and it is a collection of highly pro-Rowling essays. This book defends the series against claims of paganism and Christianity, sexism and unbelievability. There is a noticeable lack of conflicting views, and it is incredibly one-sided, but that's okay because I wouldn't want to read anything bashing Harry Potter anyway.

This is a highly interesting rea
Nov 25, 2009 rated it it was ok
Shelves: theme-1
Not as good as I was expecting. There were a couple memorable chapters, notably the chapter by Mercedes Lackey discussing the Harry Potter drinking game, very hilarious, and the following chapter on the misguided guide of how best to interact with muggles. There also was an interesting chapter responding to accusations that Harry Potter comes from the devil and is evil, and it was insightful to hear the author's well thought-out responses. Oh yes, and the chapter on Snape as a sex symbol was def ...more
Apr 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Harry Potter fans
Recommended to Kenna by: The Harry Potter shelf at Half-Price Books
This is the absolutely most interesting Harry Potter anthology-ish book I've read in quite some time. The topics are diverse, and aren't just about analyzation of the stories and "Why J.K Rowling chose to do this in her books,". The thought of Snape as a sex symbol? (Oddly) Interesting. The relationship between religion and Harry Potter/magic? VERY interesting. This is something that a Harry Potter fan should own, especially because you can whip it out if you get into an argument with another Ha ...more
Dec 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Pretty decent collection of essays on HP. I really loved Sarah Zettel's essay rebutting claims of sexism in the series, as well as Mercedes Lackey's argument that Harry should clearly be dealing with a case of PTSD throughout all of his adventuring. Richard Garfinkle's concluding essay reads almost like (really good) fanfiction, and I would have LOVED to see an underground network of house elf spies as well as all the other ingenious scheming Hermione gets up to in his essay. But uh. Really. Wha ...more
Jul 17, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, teen, essays
Summary: Essays on a variety of elements within the Harry Potter series.

I needed an HP fix but didn't have time to read the entire series, so I decided on some literary criticism instead. These essays were all written before the seventh book was released, but I felt that the analysis they contained was not hampered by this. I especially enjoyed the feminist assessment of Hermione, the look at Neville as a Campbell-esk hero, and the debate about why Professor Snape has inspired so much X-rated f
Nov 07, 2013 rated it it was ok
Long subtitle: Science Fiction and Fantasy Authors Explore the Bestselling Fantasy Series of All Time.

In typical multiple-contributor format, this is a little uneven. However, some of them are good: the one that discusses Hermione and sexism is wonderful, and "The Proper Wizard's Guide to Good Manners" is hysterical.

Worth the time to scan, but only if you've read most of the Harry Potter books. If you haven't read them all, there's a lot here that will either confuse you or spoil the rest of the
Vicki G
Oct 12, 2010 rated it it was ok
Maybe it's b/c I have a limited understanding of critical essays and their purpose, but I thought the authors picked everything apart when it was unnecessary to do so.
Like how upset they were that Harry goes back to live w/ the Dursleys' every year and that Mrs. Weasley is "a typical submissive woman."
Those two things have little to do w/ the plot and some women ARE like that. It's not like she made every female character in the book "submissive" for God's sake.
May 01, 2016 rated it really liked it
Most of it was great! But there were a few works in here that I just found tedious. I don't know if it was the opinions of the writer or the way they wrote it, but some were just a little too.... out there. But the Snape one was great! I'd recommend this to any Harry Potter fan! It gives new perspectives and realizations to things you've never noticed before, like how none of the Hogwarts teachers are married! It was interesting.
Sep 25, 2008 rated it really liked it
Of course I got a huge kick out of the snape fan fiction essay (legitimate discussion of reader appropriation of a character, in addition to quotes of steamy spanking scenes! what more could you ask for?). Almost made me want to reread harry potter books, but caught myself. if I didn't recognize a name, then perhaps it's just meant to be that way.

on a sidenote, bethany's bookshelves are tied at 1-1 successes/losses.
David Flapan
Jul 14, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: kids
This book contains fun essays/articles about different aspects of the series.
While some were on topics I did not care for, and some were over my head, many had fun, useful, and deep insights into the series.
Examples include:
--Is Harry Potter (the series) feminist?
--How do the Dursleys reflect society?
And many more.
Check this out for some intelligent reading after you have finished at least 5 of the books.
Jun 21, 2011 rated it liked it
Some insightful essays by assorted authors on the deeper meaning and implications in Harry Potter- how Rowling grapples with Feminist issues, racism, governments, etc. and more. Several of the essays are top-notch, most are good (though at least one rings a little jealous, and a couple are over-simplified.

There was a few really insightful ones of racism, sexism and the classical role of the Hero that I enjoyed most.
Jul 06, 2011 rated it really liked it
This was probably one of my favorite Smart Pop anthologies thus far. It was mostly more serious than other books, but the essays were extremely compelling and explored great topics. The one that I didn't care for as much was the one comparing Harry Potter to a School Days novel, largely because it focused much more on this moderately obsolete British storytelling technique than on Harry Potter itself. Other than that, I was interested the whole time.
Jan 23, 2012 rated it really liked it
Because I needed just a bit more of Harry Potter, I picked this book up from the library. A book of essays written by different individuals who delve quite deeply into the Harry Potter phenomenon; made me think of perspectives I hadn't thought of before. If you're a Harry Potter fan, you would probably enjoy this read. NOTE: Book 7 was not released when this book was published.
Oct 18, 2012 rated it liked it
I only enjoyed noe of the essays, most of them being quite dated now that the series has reached its conclusion. It was evident that most of the content was written and published while the books awere still being actively published. "To Sir, With Love" is probably the best investigation into the world of Snape fanfic that I've read.
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Mercedes entered this world on June 24, 1950, in Chicago, had a normal childhood and graduated from Purdue University in 1972. During the late 70's she worked as an artist's model and then went into the computer programming field, ending up with American Airlines in Tulsa, Oklahoma. In addition to her fantasy writing, she has written lyrics for and recorded nearly fifty songs for Firebird Arts &am ...more
More about Mercedes Lackey...
“I'm going to go out on a limb here. I've thought a lot about this one, as a feminist, and as an author. How should traditional roles be portrayed? In fantasy literature there is a school of thought that holds that women must be treated precisely like men. Only the traditional male sphere of power and means of wielding power count. If a woman is shown in a traditionally female role, then she must be being shown as inferior.

After a lot of thought, and some real-life stabs at those traditional roles, I've come to firmly disagree with this idea. For an author to show that only traditional male power and place matter is to discount and belittle the hard and complex lives of our peers and our ancestresses.”
“I reject the notion that we must tell girls that the only way to be valid human beings is to turn themselves into boys.” 2 likes
More quotes…