There has been much talk of how speculative fiction, such as Orwell’s 1984, present us with terrifying cautionary tales. These books provide a platform for criticizing, analyzing and even predicting dreary 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. 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, I still have speculative-fiction fatigue. I don’t plan to abandon reading, writing or talking about the genre. However, these days the themes resonate to the point of bringing me to the brink of depression. I need a small break.
So, I had an idea. Instead of thinking about the terrible worlds I never want to know, how about thinking about the fictional places I would actually like to 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 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
Wicked witches aside, Emerald City (in book or movie form) 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. I’d take a trip there. I might even stay a while.
“The end of the paved yellow road… 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. There’s one in every state. That’s why The Simpson’s creator chose it as the hometown of Homer, Marge, Lisa, Bart and Maggie. Yes, it’s a hyperbolic version of where many people already live. However, I wouldn’t be upset if I turned into a cartoon character who could easily survive fall down a mountain or a car crash. Plus I’d have one less finger to worry about. Added bonus: Lisa would end up President of US and that is 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 talk and magical beasts roam. It has beautiful landscapes and exciting adventures. Plus, people can travel there through a magic portal and then return home when things get dicey. I’d vacation there for a bit.
7. The Shire
I’m already short, so I’d feel right at home 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.