The blog, she lives! And, true to form, rather than contributing one of the couple of Blog Ideas I have written down, I’m jumping in with Top Ten Tuesdays, by the Broke and the Bookish! I adore this week’s theme – it’s been interesting taking a look at the series I adore and imagining how utterly terrible it would be to join the adventures.
All of these stories already have their heroes and their gods, so for the purposes of this blog I’m imagining what it would be like to join in as “a normal person”, whatever that looks like in any given universe. No world-saving for me, just a girl trying to get by.
In no particular order, then: The Top Ten Fictional Worlds that I NEVER Want To Live In:
1. Dresdenverse – The Dresden Files, by Jim Butcher
On the surface, the world Jim Butcher created seems kind of fantastic: magic exists, supernatural creatures walk among us, anything is possible. Unfortunately, the story doesn’t look quite as pleasant from the point of view anyone who isn’t a wizard. If you don’t happen to be one of the few powerful supernatural entities, you’d have to deal with the fact that your entire world is really just a battlefield for more distinct types of baddies than I can conveniently count. If the fae aren’t fighting a war, the vampires are trying to make a name for themselves. Wizards don’t really care much for regular mundanes, and most other people seem to think of them as little more than food. About the best thing I could hope for in this world would be to be ignored by everyone interesting. Worst case scenario, I see something I shouldn’t and go insane, or end up in service to some kind of big crazy evil for the rest of my life …
2. The United Isles – The Rithmatist, by Brandon Sanderson
In this world, a small percentage of the population are somehow magically imbued with the ability to make their chalk drawings come to life. The United Isles (of America) are also under attack from a horde of evil chalk creatures who seem to want to devour everything. Everyone who’s able to bring drawings to life is drafted into military service, sending their drawings against the attacking monsters. Everyone else … well, I guess they just sort of hope that the Rithmatists don’t lose, because if they do, they’re all screwed. I’m not sure which would be worse, having to sit helplessly, or having to live your entire life knowing that you’re the only thing standing between your country and certain destruction at the hands of murderous doodles.
3. The Maze – The Maze Runner, by James Dashner
The world is a plague-filled sun-blasted wasteland, wherein the cleverest children are thrown into a giant death maze to see if they have what it takes to become the subjects of further experimentation.
Yeah, I think that kind of covers it.
4. Oz – The Wizard of Oz, by Frank L. Baum
… I’ve got no clever explanation for this one. Oz has freaked me out from the very beginning. A bunch of creepy races with talking animals who’ve been convinced not to talk, where the most powerful person is a fake? That doesn’t even begin to take into consideration the woman with the creepy swapping heads, and the rollerskate stilt men, and the part where there’s a village of china people.
5. Panem – The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins
I think at this point if I have to explain why I don’t want to live in this world, I worry about you all.
6. Idris, &c – The Mortal Instruments, by Cassandra Clare
There’s a magical invisible country in the middle of Europe which has somehow never been discovered. It is home to a group of human-angel halfbreeds who spend their time alternately protecting humanity from demons and ignoring humanity altogether. Humanity’s protectors are out of touch with daily life, seem largely indifferent to everything outside of their own little magical borders, and they’re less governed than they are occasionally guided by counsel that pays no more attention to the larger context than anyone else. Their laws are arbitrary and only occasionally enforced. Justice seems to be the domain of one individual inquisitor, who has no oversight, checks, or balances. This universe also provides one of many examples of a world in which children only seem to have to sit through a minimal academic education, before they’re considered to be mini-adults and sent into practical magical training. It’s no wonder the government’s suffering, if none of its members ever had to master critical thinking.
7. The End of the Lane – The Ocean at the End Of The Lane, by Neil Gaiman
Even now, I’m not quite sure why this world unsettles me as much as it does. The world Gaiman shows in this novel is very similar to the real world, which is part of what makes the story so compelling … but the subtle differences disturbed me on a fundamental level. In this world, ancient forces exist in the quiet little corners, minding their own business and engaging in their little squabbles. They’re largely inaccessible to humanity in general, except when the occasional window opens and someone catches a glimpse of something they shouldn’t. While this might seem charming, what it means that those few people who cross the wrong threshold have absolutely no one they can talk to. The standard prejudices and misconceptions exist, but the likelihood of encountering something that goes bump in the night has increased thousandfold. And because the magic is hidden, the odds are that any creature you run into won’t be tame, or bear any resemblance to something you’ve seen on TV. You’re either oblivious, or trapped in a situation beyond your comprehension with little to no chance for acceptance or support.
8. Elantris – Elantris, by Brandon Sanderson
Part of what I think I enjoy about Sanderson is the way he can take a world and break it; watching the characters try to survive in the mess he’s left them is always fascinating, and I love seeing the various ways beautiful fantasy lands can be twisted and warped. In this case, a blessing that used to turn a fraction of the population into gods was broken one day, leaving all of the gods stuck as never-healing, undying monsters. If that weren’t bad enough, the world is hovering on the edge of being dominated by a militant religious sect, whose priests will stop at nothing to convert and conquer the heretic lands. Living by Elantris means facing the constant threat of waking up one day and finding out that you’ve been turned into a zombie, or else discovering that the priests have come to convert you to the worship of their god-king by the sword, if necessary. At least there’s an interesting merit-based system of nobility, so there’s that.
9. Partialverse – Partials, by Dan Wells
This might be my biases showing, but I’ve never really found that scifi works out too well for random citizens trying to live a normal life here on earth.
In this case, a technological advance years ago resulted in a race of android super-soldiers who were engineered to fight humanity’s wars for it. At some point, the soldiers decided they didn’t really like being slaves, and they supposedly unleashed a virus that killed 99.99% of the human race and kills every newborn child within a few days of birth. When the novel begins, humanity is desperately searching for a cure to the disease, while preparing itself to fight against a race of inhuman killing machines. To make matters worse, since humanity is a dying breed, all women are legally obligated to get pregnant as often as possible, in hopes of giving birth to the miracle baby who will be immune to the disease. I could endure the war and the fear, but any world that wants to turn me into a walking incubator just creeps the everloving hell out of me.
10. The Wizarding World – Harry Potter, by J K Rowling
I loved reading these books, and I’ve enjoyed writing in the universe, but good lords is this world messed up? A random percentage of the world has magic, and the way they decided to deal with life was to lock themselves away in a hidden world behind the world, where they then proceed to ignore as much of our reality as they possibly can. Even assuming you’re lucky enough to be born a witch or wizard, and therefore not subject to just being a victim of a random act of magic, life is still bleak and terrifying. As far as we can see, education in the wizarding world goes until the student is 17, at which point they seem to be directed straight into a career in politics, law enforcement, education, or professional sports. Within the only school we see, most of the subjects are designed to give young wizards a practical magical education, with little or no attention paid to such basic necessities as math, literacy, or home ec. It’s no wonder the ministry is incompetent, if half of its members were shipped there straight out of high school with no real understanding of how to think critically, do basic math, or prepare and edit standardized documents.
Also, you know, the part where they rely on the honour system as the only thing standing between you and some random kid with a pointystick, and a killing curse.
Siobhan shook her head briefly, and started again from the beginning.
“I don’t quite know what happened last night. It’s all sort of a blur, and I”m not sure I even want to remember all of it, but … I know I was in bad shape. The last thing I can remember is falling off of the highway, and I don’t think that sort of thing is normally very good for someone.”
She looked down at herself, clean and neat, and then back up at the woman.
“I sort of expected to wake up dead this morning,” she said, managing this time to ignore it when Alton abruptly looked over at her. “Or at least, in a lot of pain. I don’t know exactly what you did, but … thank you.”
If it was harder than it should have been to say that without shuddering at the idea of it, well. She’d managed.
For a moment, Donna didn’t respond – to chide, or demure, or wonder what a random coed was doing on a highway in order to in a position to fall off in the first place. She gave Siobhan a long, steady look that seemed to contain more than it had any right to, and then tipped her head slightly to one side in acknowledgment.
“I didn’t really have to do very much,” she said. “I’ve never been much of a healer. You’d already mended the worst of it on your own, before Sam even found you.”
It was Siobhan’s turn to hesitate.
“I don’t understand,” she said – the truth, although she was developing unsettling suppositions.
“He lives out in the woods a little ways out from town,” Donna said. “He found you while he was out, and brought you here. Don’t worry, he’s a lovely man.”
“No, no.” Siobhan held up a hand. “Not him. What do you mean, I’d mended the worst of it?”
Donna opened her mouth as though to speak, then closed it. She narrowed her eyes slightly, used one finger to tug down the specatcles she was wearing until she could examine Siobhan over them. Her gaze rested for a long time on Siobhan’s face, before flicking down to her chest. That was going to take some getting used to, Siobhan thought, fighting the urge to blush.
“You’re from Ramport,” Donna said finally.
“Is this your first time out of the city?”
“No offence,” she said, “but I’m not really sure why I should answer that.”
Alton had moved away until he was standing just behind Donna, easily visible even when Siobhan wasn’t trying to look at him. He folded his arms, and cocked his head.
“You said you wanted answers,” he said. “You might want to try giving a little.”