One of the first Robin Sloan short stories I ever read was a fun fantasy thing, I think written in conjunction with a school project. In it, there were some people who had a special ability - they could see the fairy king Oberon’s castle, which floated above southern California in a kind of superposition state. It was there, it was not there. Robin had images of this castle, which was actually the Geisel library from UC San Diego, charmingly photoshopped as a flying saucer-ish thing in the clouds. It’s an image I’ve always liked.

So: I was cruising around google maps, as one does, and saw something weird.

superposition 1

This neighborhood is some mixed use residential here. Houses, apartments, an elementary school, and a commercial street.

Zoom in and turn on street view:

superposition 2

Huh - the streets turn blue but those 360-photo dots show up too - you often see those in notable places. Like a scenic landmark, or a tourist spot. But I know these blocks; it’s a school, a hardware store, a tae kwon do studio.

Zoom in:

superposition 3

That’s… a LOT of photos. And they seem to just… go right through these buildings and streets here.

Let’s click one:

superposition 4

Yes: because it’s a cruise ship. You can click through the ship, walk the halls, even take the stairs and elevators.

I’m sure it’s just a geocoding quirk, but I LOVE this superposition idea: there’s an invisible cruise ship in my neighborhood, and one day I can find my way onto it.

It’s an urban fantasy novel just waiting to be written.

The Sea Hates a Coward