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No giant spiders here. That we know of.

"I would really rather feel bad in Maine than feel good anywhere else."

The easternmost of the 48 contiguous states of the US, as well as the northernmost one east of the Great Lakes.note  Part of the New England region, it is famous for its forests, lighthouses, and lobster, as well as for being the home state of (and setting for almost all novels written by) Stephen King.

Maine (pronounced like "main") was originally part of Massachusetts, making it one of four states split off from the territory of an already-existing state.note  Its northern border with Canada was actually not fixed until the War of 1812 ended with the Treaty of Ghent, and even then local farmers around northern Maine and southern New Brunswick fought over the exact border in the now-obscure Aroostook "War" (more like a neighborly squabble, since no one actually fought each other) in the 1830s. Like most states added to the Union during the first half of the 19th century, Maine was admitted as part of the 1820 Missouri Compromise to admit new states in pairs, one slave and one free, to maintain the balance between the two increasingly-bitterly-divided factions in Congress (we all know how well that plan worked out). Not that most Mainers were opposed to leaving Massachusetts anyhow, seeing as they'd consistently been left out of that state's politics and had their interests ignored on account of being cut off by New Hampshire. By the way, its NH border makes Maine the only US state to border just one other state, although the majority of its land border is shared with the Canadian province of Quebec.

Maine's population is heavily clustered in the south near to the New Hampshire border, where sits its largest metro area, Greater Portland; the state capital, Augusta, is a bit further north. Northern Maine is extremely remote and sparsely populated, with Northwest Aroostook — which makes up nearly half of the state's largest county by area — boasting all of twelve residents in the 2020 census. This helps to make the region an attractive setting for Lovecraft Country and other "New England Gothic" horror fiction, imparting as it does a perfect sense of isolation, and is one of the reasons the aforementioned Stephen King likes to set his books there (the other being, of course, that he's a Mainer himself).

Economically, Maine's history has always been inseparable from the maritime industry. The waters off the coast offer bountiful fish and other seafood, and Portland sits on an excellent natural harbor. One explanation for its name is that it's a shortening of "mainland," as most early European settlers lived on islands off the coast and hence were constantly referencing the nearby territory as "the mainland." Put as much stock in that explanation as you deem appropriate. The coast of Maine is indeed dotted with islands of varying size and importance (including the gorgeous Acadia National Park), hence the abundance of lighthouses trying to help ships navigate through such treacherous waters. Relatedly, shipbuilding has historically been a major sector of the state's economy as well, with two major US shipyards being located there, although the industry has increasingly been subject to outsourcing in recent years. The forests of the north have also been a source of ample wealth, providing resources for paper and construction lumber: most of the Maine North Woods, consisting of the lands north of Greenville and west of Fort Kent, are still privately-owned timberlands and sugaring areas that have been opened to outdoor recreation by agreement, and thus have no permanent residents with most workers commuting from either further south or across the border from Quebec.

In politics, Maine was traditionally regarded as a key bellwether state, as its elections for state and congressional positions were held in September rather than November, providing an early indicator of voter sentiments and leading to the aphorism "As Maine goes, so goes the nation." This bellwether status faded after 1932, when Maine voted for a Republican Party governor in September and then (in November) was one of just two states to vote for Republican Alf Landon instead of Democrat Franklin D. Roosevelt. Maine evolved over the late 20th century from a Republican-leaning state, to a swing state, to a Democratic-leaning state with some unique political quirks. It has voted for the Democratic presidential candidate in every election since 1992. Its current senators are Republican Susan Collins and independent Angus King, the latter of whom typically caucuses with the Democratic Party (he effectively votes like a normal Democrat, but Mainers evidently like having one of the two independent Senators). Its governor, Janet Mills, is a Democrat. State and local elections are usually competitive; Collins faced a serious challenge from Democrat Sara Gideon in 2020 and pulled out a victory at the same time Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden cruised to an easy victory in the state, and Mills defeated Republican Shawn Moody in 2018. Many Mainers pride themselves on their state's (and their own) bipartisan nature. It is also notable as one of two states (the other being Nebraska) that conventionally awards its electoral votes by proportion of popular vote, rather than using the winner-take-all model employed by everyone else; for example, it split its four electoral votes in the 2016 and 2020 US presidential elections, with three each going to Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden and the other to Donald Trump. Maine is also more willing than most states to support and even elect independent candidates — Angus King served as Governor from 19952003 as an independent, for example, and independent candidates received a huge chunk of the vote and played a significant role in shaping the outcomes of the 2010 and 2014 gubernatorial elections. This support of independent candidates has led to Maine becoming the first state to use ranked-choice voting for statewide primaries and for both primaries and general elections for Federal offices.note 

And no, there's no town in the state named Castle Rock, although someone will probably try to found one eventually.


Works set in Maine:


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