Sunday, April 12, 2009

The Wonders I've Seen...

In a post here, Alexander Field writes about fictional places he'd like to visit.

(Do check his list out - he has v. nice pics to go with his choices.)

Added later in the day - A few thoughts on what makes a world memorable...I really like sense detail, and that's really important. And if I didn't like the characters in the story, I'm not likely to really enjoy the setting. (There are exceptions!) But what I think I want most from a fictional world is a 'sense of wonder' - something that I associate with, say, the TV series Farscape. Among others. End addition

Here's mine - not an exclusive list, and subject to change tomorrow. (About the only restriction I put on the list is that all the places are from books, not movies/tv/ect. Otherwise, we'd be here all day...)

1) A China That Never Was, But Should Have Been: Bridge of Birds, by Barry Hughart. Fantasy, set in China, full of delightful characters, wild adventures, and thousands of plot twists. In the voice of Number Ten Ox, Hughart's narrator, the landscape and heavens and history of the world come alive, both eternally foretold and ever new.

2) London Below: Neverwhere, by Neil Gaiman. Urban fantasy, set in London. (TV series, novel, and graphic novel - I prefer the novel.) Not a journey to be made lightly, for travelers don't always come back from that place. But the roads and alleys of London Below are like nothing in London Above - except when they are.

3) The Outskirts: The Outskirter's Secret, by Rosemary Kirsten. SF, medieval setting, other planet. Read The Steerswoman first, because otherwise you'll miss the opportunity to figure out the story. The Outskirts are a wild place, as dangerous in their way as London Below. The wandering Outskirters and their herds travel through a wilderness full of demons and armored swamp monsters, and a landscape as deadly as the creatures that inhabit it.

4) The City of Tai-Tastigon: God Stalk, by P.C. Hogan. Fantasy, medieval setting. Another city, one full of warring guilds and fantastic treasures; trembling rooftops and crumbling stone and secret passages - and temples for every God in the world.

5) Omelas: 'The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas", by Ursula K. Le Guin. SF, utopia/thought-experiment. I'd go here just to see how the utopia works, with its public orgies and happy drugs and beautiful trains and cute ponies and soft misty mornings, with no hard labor or untimely floods or shortages of any sort.

6) The Majat Worlds: Serpent's Reach, by CJ Cherryh. SF, future, otherworld. Specifically, the world of the hive-mind Majat, but only if I could see it through their eyes. One of the various reasons I love CJ Cherryh's writing is her ability to craft worlds and cultures. The Majat - jewel-encrusted and many-bodied - have been described as 'the first sympathetic hive-mind in SF'.

7) Ballybran: Crystal Singer, by Anne McCaffery. SF, future, otherworld. Ballybran is the only source of Crystal, a material used to power starships and link worlds together. I am not musically inclined, but I would like to see this world, where light alone can bring forth music from the stones, and gifted musicians drive themselves to madness in the quest for sound.

8) Mirabile: Mirabile, by Janet Kagan. SF, otherworld, colonization Mirable is a colony world, settled by humans who brought all the species of Earth with them - by encoding the genes for, say, a tyrannosaurus rex into the sequence of a sheep. These wild sports - called Dragon's Teeth - are culled and contained by specialists known as Jasons. It is a hazardous world, but there is *always* some new wonder to behold - so long as you see it coming first!

9) The Smoke Ring Integral Trees, by Larry Niven. SF, future, otherworld. A gas world, encircled by a floating ring of enormous trees, in whose branches whole tribes of humans live and die in continuous free fall.

10) The Jungle of the Free People: The Jungle Book, by Rudyard Kipling. Another world that never was, but perhaps should have been. Oh, to hear the call look well, ye wolves, to see the kites circling overhead, to feel the little bald spot under Bagheera's chin...

...and I'll stop there. This was fun!


Alexander Field said...

Great list! In particular, I loved your inspired choice of London Below, from Neverwhere. Loved that book! Also Niven and Kipling? Very nice. Thanks for the props on the list and great blog! : )

Kerani said...

Thank you for the original suggestion - I really like the chance to make a list of things I like!