Whose Wonderland? Which wonderful?

Saw this done by a friend on LJ, and thought it might make a good memelike thing*: if you could live in a fantasy setting of your choosing, which one — based on fantasy novels you’ve read — would it be?

Because not just anybody’s wonderland would be wonderful for me, after all. I’m going to just skip the ones where there are no black people, because I can’t see how it would be particularly wonderful to be treated as “exotic” — and abnormal. This does not, note, rule out all wonderlands that resemble medieval Europe; a lot depends on how realistically that resemblance is handled, since the real medieval Europe had Moors and whatnot running all over the place. But obviously wonderlands like Tolkien’s fantasy Europe are right out, since I’m not interested in being mistaken for a Southron and run through on some nice Gondorean’s sword. That’s quite apart from the fact that there’s something really wrong with that world — it keeps changing shape. Used to be flat, now it’s round; what’s next, a tetrahedron? Creepy.

My LJ friend included science fictional worlds, so that gives me a bit more to choose from — but I think I’ll narrow that down to at least science fiction/fantasy blends, otherwise this post will be twenty screens long. And just for shits ‘n’ giggles, I’m going to toss in videogame worlds and manga worlds. And here are my picks:

  • Pern: (Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonriders serieseseses) Pros: Dragons and fire lizards! Cons: problematic fungal life. Plus, Pern’s society is a little too unequal for my tastes; wouldn’t want to end up as a drudge or green dragonrider. ::shudder of horror:: Maybe in the earlier eras, when the Pernese still retained some of their colonial egalitarianism.
  • Erna: (C. S. Friedman’s Coldfire trilogy). Pros: Anybody can do magic! Cons: Anybody can do magic. Though maybe if I get there after the trilogy ends, it wouldn’t be so bad. Sounds very pretty there. And there’s that whole other continent full of black people! Hopefully they’re not being manipulated by aliens anymore.
  • Earth-post-Wraeththu: (Storm Constantine’s Wraeththu) Sounds great, if you’re Wraeththu or Kamagrian. Human, not so much. And apparently the entire southern hemisphere has been nuked… eh… actually, it doesn’t sound great.
  • Unnamed world of Ico and Shadow of the Colossus — and the forthcoming the Last Guardian, eeee!!!: Pro: an utterly beautiful, magical world. Cons: …full of shadow-monsters and giant statues that try to kill you. Huh. Still, as long as I don’t go looking for them, they probably won’t come after me. Unless I suddenly grow horns.
  • Spira, from Final Fantasy X: Another utterly beautiful world. I guess I figure that if I’ve got to live where monsters and magic will attack me — a significant con, but pretty much par for the course in wonderland — I might as well take in some very nice scenery in the process.
  • London a la Kate Griffin: whom you should be reading. Who’s to say we aren’t living in that world already? I visited London back in October. Felt plenty magical to me.
  • Alt-Earth a la Kate Elliott, specifically “the Spiritwalkers Trilogy”: Yet and still more beauty, even up in still-Ice-Age steampunk Europa. Minor drawbacks to life there, like zombies, killer ice magicians, oppressive regimes, random attacks by the Wild Hunt, the chance of accidentally falling into the spirit world any moment and being EATEN… huh. Eh. Hrrrm.
  • Unnamed world of Alaya Dawn Johnson’s “the Spirt Binders Trilogy”: A gorgeous archipelago world, this one Polynesianesque, and which sounds idyllic as long as none of the great spirits that power their world don’t break free and trash the place. Maybe I could live in between some of those events?
  • Alt-Earth a la Naomi Novik’s Temeraire novels: Like our Earth, but with dragons, and where colonialism has failed? Sign me the hell up.
  • Out-World, Mid-World, or In-World; Stephen King’s Dark Tower septet: HELL. NO. Not even if I had a gun.
  • Alt-Earth a la any Shin Megami Tensei game or spinoff series: Haven’t played Strange Journey yet (deadlines, deadlines). But considering that most SMTs start off in a bad place — like, oh, the end of the world and complete eradication of 99.9999% of humanity — I’m thinking no on this one. Though granted, I might survive by getting some really cool tats.
  • Heaven, a la CLAMP’s RG Veda: Only if I get to be a god, somebody shows me how to use a sword, and I stay the everliving hell away from any children found inside creepy Giger-esque cocoons in the middle of the forest.
  • Amestris: from Hiromu Arakawa’s Fullmetal Alchemist. This one almost didn’t make the list, because Amestris is basically a steampunk-with-magic version of Germany during the Third Reich. They’re not targeting people who look like me — in fact there are a number of black people in the Amestrian army, so they’re obviously considered to be welcome there — but I don’t want to be anywhere that genocidal campaigns are taking place and condoned by the populace. Maybe I could be a resistance fighter there, and hang out with the Elric brothers? Gah, no — those boys get into too much danger, and there’s too much collateral damage around them.
  • Alt-Earth a la the Harry Potter books: As with Kate Griffin’s London, how do we know we’re not already there?

So what fantasy worlds would you choose to live in?

* The psychologist and armchair historian in me feels obliged to point out that the way “meme” gets used in the blogosphere is totally wrong. All that said, meme away.

17 Responses »

  1. I totally second the ICO/SOTC world – I don’t know that I’d want to live there, since it’s a little barren and depressing, but I’d love to visit. Hiking along those windswept plains and lonely mountain passes would be amazing. Incidentally, there are parts of Iceland that look a lot like that. That’s how big a geek I am – I took a trip to Iceland and spent half the time saying “This looks just like Shadow of the Colossus!”

    I think one of my top choices would be the world from Avatar:The Last Airbender. It’s huge, has a great variety of amazing locales and cultures, and I just might be able to control water or shoot fire from my hands, so what more could I want? I’d especially love to hang out in the ice city at the North Pole or in Ba Sing Se. And ride a sky bison. Ideally this would NOT be during the hundred-year period in which the Fire Nation takes over everything.

    Dinotopia would also be awesome, especially Waterfall City.

  2. Hey, am new to your blog and loving it! Thank you for your books, they have really given me hope for sci fi/fantasy as a genre.

    I still remember the point at which I realized that the world I lived in wasn’t that of Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, and that there weren’t *necessarily* those other civilizations and cultures beyond earth, if we ever got there. It was quite the psychological blow, and it felt like such a let down. (In fact, I still don’t quite believe it… one day…).

    It would also be nice to step into a Tardis some day and just whisk off… but I think that speaks to my indecisiveness – in THAT universe, I could have it all, any setting, any period, any world…

  3. I’d live in the Cullen family, from the Twilight series. I’d get to be ridiculously wealthy, my family would be both nice AND well protected (werewolf bodyguards…rockin’). And I’d live forever as long as I didn’t get too close to a cigarette lighter.

    SURE, I’d be thirsty all the time, french fries would taste like dirt, and the Volturi vampires are evil and sneaky, but if I had to pick a Wonderland, this one works for me.

  4. Ooo. I didn’t even think of Temeraire! Though I’m not so sure I want to be in the UK or much of anywhere in Europe during wartime, I could happily go live amongst the dragons in China. Taking my race and background into consideration, I’d probably be pretty unusual as a white American female in China in the 1800s, but as long as I learn Chinese quickly, I should do okay.

    And Novik’s dragons are much better than McCaffrey’s. You don’t have to be ‘special’ to talk to them.

  5. I’m tempted by the world of the Gentleman Bastard series by Scott Lynch, but only if I get to be a cool/powerful person there.

    (I’m reminded of a couple of lines from Bujold, in Cetaganda, about how democrats can cope just fine with an aristocracy, as long as they get to be the aristocrats.)

  6. incandescens,

    Is that just democrats/liberals? I imagine conservatives wouldn’t want to be at the bottom of the heap in a fantasy realm, either. Who does?

  7. Spira would nice (aside from Sin, and all) just for the tropical island factor and folks playing crazy underwater sports.

    I’d probably go with either the world from the Culdcept manga (people of color, tasty food, summoned monsters, goddesses) or the alt-history of Nadia: Secret of Blue Water – at least, more cheery worlds despite the drama.

  8. Heaven, a la CLAMP’s RG Veda: Only if I get to be a god, somebody shows me how to use a sword, and I stay the everliving hell away from any children found inside creepy Giger-esque cocoons in the middle of the forest.

    And even if you managed all of that, Taishakuten STILL might kill you and feed you to his pets. He’s kind of a jerk like that.

  9. The first thing that springs to my mind is actually Ursula K. LeGuin’s Earthsea, but to be honest it’s been a long time since I read the books so it’s possible that if I reread them I’d find something that I missed the first time that puts me off. Still, I’m attracted to that world because I love water. I don’t know how to sail, really, but I could learn! (right?) and I grew up swimming competitively so I know I’m good in the water. Also I love seafood! Yeah, I think I could handle Earthsea. As long as a shadow didn’t come after me, I guess.

  10. *Fair point in your microscopic footnote about the meaning of the word “meme”; but the armchair linguist in me feels obliged to point out that a word means how we use it, and that it’s completely okay to have different but related and contextually-dependent meanings for the same word. For reference, look up any word in the dictionary.

    :) Hope that doesn’t sound too pedantic.

  11. Re: Democrats

    I read it as.. people who like democracies.

  12. Re: Bujold Quote

    Yeah, it’s democrats = people who live in a democracy, not democrats = American liberal political party. To be more specific, it’s a representative democracy that is meant to be what America thinks America is. . . I wouldn’t mind living there, seeing as the only dystopian element is that you’re required to get a contraceptive implant at 13 and take a class before you can have a kid. . . beyond that it seems to be a wildly egalitarian, progressive place. . . and poverty does not appear to exist.

    But that’s SF.

    For fantasy worlds. . . the only one that comes to mind is Jacqueline Carey’s Terra d’Ange, which is an alt-France. True, the d’Angelines are all stuck up about their godly lineage. . . but so long as you admit they’re the most beautiful and talented people on the planet they’re quite gracious and accommodating of difference. “Love as thou wilt” as the only commandment seems far too joyous to me to pass up. . . though it’s likely I’d have body-image issues living there. Ah well, probably can’t be worse than the ones I have here!

    (For that matter, I wouldn’t mind living in several of the other countries in Carey’s world in the first trilogy. . . the alt-British Isles sound doable, as does Kaneka’s village of Debeho, though we didn’t get to see very much of it. . . not a fan of the alt-Italy, alt-Germany, alt-Iran, or the Sabaens though. Either too high a chance of death, or too restrictive a life as a woman.)

  13. As J Andrews and PhoenixFalls said, in that context it’s being used in the sense of “people who live in a democracy”.

    (Sorry, I don’t tend to think of the Democrats/Republicans divide when using the words “democracy” or “democrats” – different country!)

  14. Belated, all —

    Sorry; had my political knee-jerk lever engaged. Also responded pre-coffee; never a good idea. Yes, democrat = people in a democracy, something Americans don’t actually have, alas.

  15. Stephen,

    Not too pedantic at all; I’m the one making a pedantic point. But had to make it anyway, because I’m a Virgo. Pedantic: it’s what we do.

  16. I’m with Nathan on the Who-niverse, except I wouldn’t want to be one of the people who die every week…

    I have three places I’d like to live, two from Patricia C. Wrede and one from Charles de Lint.

    1. The Enchanted Forest (Wrede) – pros: magic, adventure and sarcastic, practical friends. Cons: magic-stealing wizards.
    2. Regency London from the Sorcery & Cecelia series of books (also Wrede) – pros: magic, adventure and elegance. Cons: you have to be one of the aristocrats to really enjoy yourself, I think.
    3. Newford (de Lint): Who wouldn’t want to live in a modern city where fairies, spirits, ghosts and who-knows-what-else exists?

  17. Oh good. I think pedantry might be an Aries trait as well… ;)