There has been much talk lately about how books, particularly speculative fiction such as Orwell’s 1984, are cautionary tales for the slippery slope the world is proceeding down. Fictional worlds such as these can provide a platform for criticizing, analyzing and even predicting potential futures. For example, a recent study indicated sperm counts are down 50% in Western males. (The Handmaid’s Tale isn’t looking too crazy right about now.)
And while I agree these books are more important than ever, I’m kind of sick of hearing about it. I’m speculative-fictioned out. I’m on board. I’ve read the books. I agree. We are headed down a bad path (really, really bad) and we need to turn it around.
Even though I am fully aware of how quickly this our world can turn into 1984 and may be partially there already, I still have speculative-fiction fatigue. I don’t plan to abandon reading or writing or talking about the genre. It’s critical for understanding the world and entertaining reading. However, these days the themes resonate to the point of bringing me to the brink of depression. And sometimes I just need to take a break.
So, I had an idea. Instead of thinking about all the terrible worlds I never want to see come to fruition, how about thinking about some of the fictional worlds and places I would actually like to live in or at least visit. It wasn’t an easy task, fiction thrives on conflict and happy worlds don’t create conflict. I think I came up with a few though.
1. Stars Hollow
This is not from a book. It’s from a TV show, one of the best in my opinion. Gilmore Girls! When I think about a fictional place I could live, this is it. It’s slightly lacking in the diversity quotient, but otherwise filled with fun, quirky characters that get into just enough mischief to keep life interesting without making it awful. It’s a town with a community of funny, open-minded people, all-night swing dance contests, and great coffee. Sounds like utopia to me.
Alice did face some trials when she followed that rabbit down the hole and at the end a queen tried to cut off her head. Putting that aside, she also got to grow and shrink, try new foods, have crazy tea parties and meet a cast of wacky characters. No, I wouldn’t want to live in Wonderland, but it would be a really fun place to visit.
“Imagination is the only weapon in the war against reality.”
― Lewis Carroll,
3. The Emerald City
The wicked witches aside, the Emerald City in the Wizard of Oz is a place of wonder and temporary sanctuary for Dorothy and her pals. If the movie is to be believed, there is singing and dancing and green horses. It’s certainly a place I’d be interested to visit and explore. I’d take a trip there. I might even stay a while.
“It was late afternoon before the little party came to the end of the paved yellow road which stopped at the great marble wall that surrounded the entire city. It was high and thick and of a bright florescent green color and studded in countless glittering emeralds.”― The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1900)
Although I haven’t read all the Harry Potter books, that doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate some of the wonderful, imaginative places that J. K. Rowling cooked up in her brain cauldron. Hogsmeade, the only all-Wizarding village in the Harry Potter world, is accessible to Hogwarts students starting in their third year. I’m sure more than one Potterhead would love to call this place home and any person who enjoys magic would love to visit (including me.)
“They make a fuss about Hogsmeade, but I assure you, Harry, it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. All right, the sweetshop’s rather good, and Zonko’s Joke Shop’s frankly dangerous, and yes, the Shrieking Shack’s always worth a visit, but really, Harry, apart from that, you’re not missing anything.”
— Percy Weasley
Springfield could be anywhere. That’s kind of the point. There’s one in every state. That’s why The Simpson’s creator chose it to be the name of the hometown where Homer, Marge, Lisa, Bart and Maggie reside. Yes, it’s only a hyperbolic version of where many people already live. However, I would spend my days laughing and if I turned into a cartoon character I’d have one less finger to worry about. Plus, Lisa would definitely end up President in The Simpson’s fictional version of US and that is a vast improvement. (Of course even Ralph would be a vast improvement.)
While Narnia, from The Chronicles of Narnia books by C.S. Lewis, is not without her perils, it’s a place where animals talks and magical beasts roam the earth. It has beautiful landscapes and exciting adventures. Plus, people can travel there through a magic portal and then return when things get dicey. I’d vacation there for a bit.
7. The Shire
I’m already short, so I wouldn’t feel too out of place in The Shire from The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien. The people are friendly, the houses are adorable. (They fit great with my tiny house obsession.) Generally, life there seems pretty swell as long as you aren’t venturing off with a Wizard in search of a ring or some such nonsense.
Anyone else have suggestions for fictional places you’d like to live or visit?