Transit Maps of the World

What if the planet could one day be circumnavigated by mass transit? Reimagine that familiar flattened map, no longer with continents separated by oceans but rather connected by a network of color-coded lines that would enable a globe-trotter to shuttle from Vancouver to Newark, tunnel under the Atlantic to Rotterdam, check out Tashkent, and then be only a few connections away from Tokyo? This provocative image opens Mark Ovenden's unconventional transit map atlas, and in flipping these pages one sees serious thinking behind its utopian whimsy. A subway not only represents a literal mass movement of commuters but, at some point, involves moving the masses to agreement. Exorbitant enterprises in any era, these transit systems could never have been built without citizens first having grappled with their collective historical, economic, and political bedrock. Many of the earliest systems started in places like New York, where private companies were eager to gamble large fortunes to lay down tracks. Athens and Rome negotiate thousands of years of archaeology, while in Berlin, maps of the divided decades are poignant reminders of the Cold War. Given our polyglot planet, it's amazing to note the near-universal adoption of a graphic Esperanto for these maps, the improbably surreal formula of rainbow spaghetti topped with station names like so many methodically placed olives. Even more astounding: that monolingual tourists around the world manage to use them successfully. While Ovenden's page one vision is clearly an impossibility any time soon, it is thrilling to think that perhaps humankind's primordial wanderlust may ultimately link the world together in ways that neither the United Nations not even the most ambitious telecom networks ever could. -

April 24: "[The HST] lifted a curtain from our view of the universe, changing it so profoundly that no human can look at the stars in the same way..."

Kenneth Calhoun (Black Moon) and Lysley Tenorio (Monstress) of the Discover Great New Writers program on B-movies, heritage, and finales.

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Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
In the Light of What We Know

Zia Haider Rahman's mystery of a brilliant Bangladeshi mathematician's past barrels through the Ivy League, London high finance, and spy-haunted Afghanistan in a page-turning tale of exile, intrigue and the price of friendship. A Discover Great New Writers selection.

The People's Platform

Once touted as the foundation for tomorrow's digital democracy, the Internet is increasingly ruled by a few corporate giants, while millions of contributors till its fields for free. Astra Taylor looks at why the web has failed to deliver a communitarian cyberscape, and offers a compelling case for restoring its original vision.

A Private Venus

Dubbed "the Italian Simenon," Giorgio Scerbanenco (1911-1969) began his crime-writing career with books set in the USA, but quickly shifted scene closer to home, the city of Milan.  In this adventure, appearing in English for the first time, his underdog hero Dr. Duca Lamberti finds himself in the middle of a seedy, scantily clad criminal racket, where the presence of an outsider could result in death.