Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.
Dammit, another hard week.
You’d think this would be easy, since I love reading and I love escaping into other worlds.
The majority of other worlds are uh, not great, particularly in fantasy land and the realm of science fiction. Might I reference you to my previous Top Ten Tuesday post on fictional jobs I’d like to have? Sooooo many SFF settings are in worlds where the likelihood of death is high, and if it’s not, then the hygiene standards are not the best either.
On a space station, it’s generally claustrophobic, and colony ships tend to always get stuck/slowed down to the point where everyone is going to die before reaching their destination and the destination is gonna suck too because you have to build EVERYTHING from scratch. Yeah. No one thinks about that. It’s all about the ~journey~ and the adventure to the unknown.
In fantasy worlds, you’re going to be suffering if you’re a peasant, and if you’re a noble then you’re probably going to die in some hideous coup, and either way you’ve got like, at least 3-7 parasitical bodies living rent-free in your skin suit. And if you’re an adult in a YA book, welp, you’re a bad guy and you’re dead, or you’re a mindless drone and you’re dead. Just don’t be an adult in a YA book, mmkay?
Let’s not even talk about dystopians.
So. With that being said, I’m going to try to find some books where the quality of life is solid, my death-rate chances are low, and the excitement level is also low.
That means fascinating worlds like the Grishaverse, NK Jemisin’s Broken Earth trilogy, the Lunar Chronicles, Oren-Yaro and well, everything else are straight out. Too dangerous. I want to live and live fairly comfortably, thank you. Also, my eyesight is very poor and I need a world where prescriptive lenses are a thing.
Am I taking this prompt too literally, yet again? Yes. Also I do not care.
Bookish Places I Could Be Tempted to Live In
At least these have better healthcare systems than the United States??
I absolutely love Lois McMaster Bujold’s Vorkosigan series, however, I would not want to live on Barrayar, Miles’ homeworld. The patriarchy is strong on that planet, plus, they are very ableist and kinda backward. Beta Colony, on the other hand, has a lot of fascinating perks. Great healthcare system, high quality of living, very LGBTQ+ and sex worker friendly. Yes, there are quite a few downsides, but it very much embraces the concept that society and government are communal and contractual, and I like that. Beta Colony is presented as a utopian-on-the-surface in the series, and while no characters really spend a lot of on-page time there (exception being The Warrior’s Apprentice), these three books offer some varying insights on what utopia means—socially, politically, economically, etc.
I’m cherry-picking from my favorite books in the series, which are written by Tamora Pierce. I absolutely love the world-building in this. Yes, it’s pseudo-medieval and yes it is dangerous as fuck, particularly after the Immortal Wars, but I still love it! I would give anything to live in this world. I love the differences within Tortall, the way things interconnect and build to create a multi-dimensional society (seriously, if you’re into world-building, this is the book) and multiple cultures and communities attempting to coexist. Just, I’d rather not live in Scanra, thanks.
I’m in love with everything about AJ Lancaster’s Stariel quartet. The world-building, the romance, the relationships, the politics, the family dynamics, the relationships between the fae and humans—everything. I would happily live in this world (the human side, not the fae side, too dangerous), because the estate of Stariel sounds fucking incredible and the city is just. Whew. I love it. I love everything about it. I think this is kiiiiiinda gaslamp fantasy, kinda something a little later than that? It’s not Victorian era fashion, but my mind draws more towards latter Edwardian when I’m envisioning the setting and everything else.
Okay, yeah, this one might seem a little off for me, but hear me out. It’s all about the aesthetic. Charming, windswept island with a local, close-knit community off the coast of Great Britain-ish. They have butchers and fishermen and hotels and real horses and yes it’s kinda run down but everyone very fiercely belongs and I really, really love that. Plus they have some trippy festivals. Yes, there are carnivorous water horses who would love to rip your face off and eat it, but they only come out in the winter-time, and you can easily avoid them if you’re just careful and stay out of the damn water. And plus, I bet the summers there are fucking gorgeous.
Okay, so it’s always fucking cold or whatever, and power grid runs on the stolen magic of ghosts powered by enslaved witches, but it changes for the better and the world itself is so…how do you describe something that just hits perfectly? It’s a very similar feeling to what I have with the Stariel series, that gaslampy/Edwardian fantasy stuff that just really sits well with me. I have the same feelings for Sabriel and Ancelstierre, and honestly, my obsession with books placed in these types of fantasy settings probably stems from Sabriel.
I am trash, trash I tell you, for fake European countries. Particularly if that fake European country is magical, or conveniently vanishes every hundred years or so.
This is definitely high on my must-reread pile, and while the plot itself was a little uneven (along with the odd romance), I do remember falling in love with the small country of Dobrenica itself, and I really wish there were more than three books, because there was so much more that could have been done with the setting.