Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Fictional Vacation Homes

One argument against fantasy and science fiction is that they're escapist. They have no real bearing on reality. They don't teach us anything. The characters are stereotypes and caricatures, and the only sci-fi/fantasy readers are emotionally stunted adults, or children. Of course, this is all patently false, except for the escapism claim. There's much more to science fiction and fantasy than the alternate worlds and the sensawunda, but it's a draw for many people, myself include. When I want to enjoy myself, when I want my reading experience to maximize on the fun, I'll pick up a genre novel.

So it should surprise no one that the day of the Canadian election, I picked up Masked. I'm enjoy it quite a bit. For whole chunks of my day, I don't have to be in a world where the Progressive Conservatives are in power again!

But I'm not here to talk about Masked today, since that's a future Year of the Superhero post. Instead, I wanted to list a couple other of my favourite worlds. I'm not sure I'd want to live in very many of them, because there are downsides to most of them, but I certainly love visiting them in my head.

  • the Wormhole Nexus (Lois McMaster Bujold) - Since Miles Vorkosigan spends most of the series away from his home planet, Barrayar, I'm fingering the whole slice of the galaxy. Every setting is vivid, real, and well thought-out, and I enjoy the whole lot of them. I think of all the planets in the Nexus, I'd want to live on Bujold's future Earth the most. They seem to have things figured out best, and they seem not to have major environmental issues to contend with, unlike Beta Colony or Jackson's Whole.
  • Middle Earth, especially Hobbiton (J.R.R. Tolkien) - Mostly because Tolkien designed it largely as a utopia. Every race seems to live in harmony with itself and others, apart from the orcs and goblins, who also keep to themselves unless harassed or assembled into armies by Dark Lords. Everyone seems to have their place in society. Nearly everyone seems to like their place. And while the elves have a beautiful, poetic, elegant culture, I think I'd want to live in the Shire. Why? They're fond of eating, drinking, parties, and comfort. They like mushrooms. They go around barefoot. They tolerate eccentricity and bold women. Sounds good to me! 
  • San Francisco/Summerlands (Seanan McGuire) - I know I keep bringing McGuire up but I really am enamoured of the world she's created. I only know the basics of the lore surrounding the fae, and I've never been to 'Cisco, but I'm perfectly willing to believe that the two can co-exist. Each part of the world feels real (or surreal, depending), and internally consistent, and best of all, it's getting bigger every book! I probably wouldn't mind living in San Francisco some day, but due to the large number of Things That Can Kill You in the fae parts of the city, I think I'll pass on knowing whether it's there or not. Even if that means I can't visit Shadowed Hills, which sounds incredible.
  • Fictional Britain (too many authors to name) - I have a Thing for British novelists, British genre novelists especially. They all seem to have this particular way of speaking, a lovely, evocative way of describing everything, and a fabulous wit. British novels also have a phenomenal love of the country that can't not be picked up by the reader. Everything they write seems so steeped in the culture, compared to many of the novels coming out of North America. Some writers who've helped create Fictional Britain for me include: Geoffrey Chaucer, Neil Gaiman, Jane Austen, Susanna Clarke, Charles Dickens, William Makepeace Thackeray, William Shakespeare, Arthur Ransom, Douglas Adams, Russell T. Davies, Stephen Moffat, Susan Cooper, C.S. Lewis, Ariana Franklin, Diana Wynne Jones, and the non-Brits O.R. Melling, Gail Carriger, and Neal Stephenson.
  • Discworld (Terry Pratchett) - Because how can I not mention Discworld? It's as vast and fully realized as the other worlds I've mentioned, and fun. By Io, and Anoia, and Om, and the rest of the Discworld pantheons, it's fun. Genius satire, one could even say. I'd like to travel it, if I had the chance, though knowing how narritivium works, I'd probably arrive in Ankh Morpork and end up staying there. Pratchett's also contributed greatly to Fictional Britain, but since his stories aren't really set in Britain proper and Discworld deserved its own bullet, I didn't mention him above.
  • Breakersverse - Which really needs a better name but I haven't come up with one yet. This is the world of my WIP and the host of sequels I mentioned in my previous post. One of the reasons I have so many sequels and scenes and characters I want to include is that I'll drop into this world during downtime—I'm on a bus, I'm walking to the grocery store, it's a slow night at work, etc. I've met several superheroes who are only passing references in Resisting Capacity this way. I've been to cities that my hero will probably never get to. I've travelled in time. And even though it's my world, I keep learning new things about it. How cool is that? (Okay, really, who thought I wouldn't mention my creation here?)
Anyway, I've talked enough about where I go when I want to escape reality for a while. Where are your favourite vacation spots, and why them?

1 comment:

Rosie Lane said...

I'd love to visit one of China Mieville's cities, Bas Lag or Armada.

Oh, and check out Kate Griffin's Madness of Angels. British writer with a fantasy London that pops off the page.