The Map and the Spiders was the seventeenth and final story in The Book of the Enemy. Done in the style of a socialist parable, the story was attributed to the real world 19th century German politician Wilhelm Liebknecht.
One day, a King decided to create a perfect map of his kingdom, a map so perfect that any citizen of his country could see the rock patterns near her on the map and determine exactly where she was. The King did this not for his subjects, but for his own ego. Of course, the wisemen in his court were unable to create such a miraculous map for the King, and so he was disappointed, yet delighted that he could come up with a task that such smart men as these were incapable of.
But a child, a young boy, said to the King, that instead of talking to great wisemen, he should work with humbler creatures, the spiders, for they bested even the goddess Athena in weaving, and they could make him a map. The King laughed, and threw the boy in a dungeon, telling him to learn their language, and when he did, he could become the ambassador to the court of the spiders, and promise them any one boon within the King's power.
Time passed, and the King's attention turned to other things. Until one day, he woke up, and something seemed wrong. He reached up and touched the ceiling, which bore the emblems of the Great Houses of the Kingdom, something he had never done before. And it tore under his fingers.
Spiders swarmed down into the King's mouth, and they spun threads inside of him, controlling him, and made him release the boy, now older, from the dungeon. The boy, finally free, whispered something to the King that nobody, not even the trapped, puppeted King could understand, for it was in the language of the spiders, "Thank you".
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- The story is listed in the table of contents as The Map and the Spider. This is corrected in the ebook.
- The idea of a map that is in 1:1 relation to its territory famously appears in Lewis Carrol's Sylvie and Bruno Concluded and Jorge Luis Borges' On Exactitude in Science. The idea more generally concerns the Map–territory relation.
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