How does one write a “review” of a dictionary? I’m not certain, but that hasn’t prevented me from trying to do so previously. (And if you’re not already familiar with Magic Words: A Dictionary, be sure to remedy that gap in your knowledge.)
I’ve been wanting a copy of Dictionary of Imaginary Places for a long time, and I finally found it for a good price at Half-Price Books. (Which can yield some great deals if you’re a knowledgable shopper and weed out the absurd prices that they sometimes ask)
Written in 1980 in the style of a travel guide, it catalogs about 1200 fictional locations from plays, poems, and books. (It does not include television or movies, so even if it were a contemporary publication, Schmigadoon would be omitted.) The authors have also, wisely in my opinion, restricted the selections to earthly, reachable destinations — there are no off-planet or future cities included. (Can you imagine if they didn’t impose these limitations‽ The book would be voluminous.)
Many of the locations are accompanied by delightful illustrations and maps, but for me, the Travel Agent-style descriptions are the star. The book is indexed by author and publication, but I wished for one based on continents, such as North America. (Although I recognize that many imaginary locations are not bound by such concepts.)
My favorite entries are entirely personal and probably not interesting, so I’ll simply cite one example, which from this point forward is my favorite city in the world — Abaton. It’s a city of ever-changing location, and thus is an unreachable destination. It was “discovered” by Thomas Bulfinch in 1892.
Begin your search for the Dictionary of Imaginary Places at the Amazon, but for a more complete experience, let a copy find you.