Rachel Neumeier

Fantasy and Young Adult Fantasy Author

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Vacationing in SFF Worlds

Here’s a post by Stubby the Rocket at tor.com: The Best Vacation Spots in Science Fiction & Fantasy

Having glanced through the list, I do think the tor.com people are missing several fairly obvious choices, if you were to have your choice of places to visit. Emphasis on “visit,” which is not quite the same as trying to pick places you might want to actually live, such as, say, Arcadia in the Touchstone trilogy. Also, when this topic comes up, I think there is a general tendency to mistake “places that would be fun to visit” with “places that are fun to read about but would be insanely dangerous to visit.”

Can’t argue about Rivendell, though. Gotta grant, Rivendell is an obvious destination for a peaceful getaway: the sort of place you’d go for recuperation or for a retreat. I also agree about Ian Banks’ Culture series as offering some real possibilities. Sanderson’s “Perfect State” virtual worlds are just … so … creepy, they’re right out and possibly the very last vacation spot I would choose. Well, click through and see what else the tor.com people suggest.

Now of course this post made me wander down to my library and gaze at my own shelves. Supposing I were interested in a (safe) (safe-ish) excursion in a more exciting locale than Rivendell and picked the right time, i.e., possibly not a time while the events in the book are actually taking place, here are some places that I think would be particularly wonderful to explore:

1) Beszel and Ul Qoma from The City and the City by China Mieville.

I know Beszel is a bit rundown compared to Ul Quoma, but wouldn’t it be fascinating to visit each in succession? Talk about a great place for people-watching as well as sight-seeing. I would love to get a firsthand look at both cities, take a stab at unseeing one when I was visiting the other, and most of all watch the people who’ve grown up in those cities and try to figure out how the doubling of the city really works and whether it’s actually all in their heads or not. And it would be pretty safe to visit, since tourists aren’t held to quite the same standards of unseeing as natives.

2) Dream Park, in the book of the same name by Larry Nivan and Steven Barnes. I mean, hello, that is a place specifically meant for vacations. Virtual reality all grown up. I’ve never been particularly into gaming, but I’d definitely make an exception for a place like Dream Park.

I will add, this newer cover is pretty good:

Also, I don’t think I knew about 4th book in the series. Hmm. Now I think I need to pick that one up and possibly re-read the whole series from the top.

2. Beta Colony, in the Vorkosigan universe. If you have a significant other, then it’s hard to think of a better tourist destination than The Orb of Unearthly Delights. Even if you don’t, I’m sure there’s lots of other great places to visit on Beta Colony. Not only that, but Beta Colony never seems to be seriously threatened, which is refreshingly different for a location in an SF world.

3. Want a more exotic vacation? How about taking a month (or a year) to explore Gaea’s ring in Varley’s trilogy. Meet the centaurs and attend their concerts; maybe meet the angels; visit a blimp. It would be fabulous. Although a native guide would probably be advisable.

4. If Gaea isn’t exotic enough for you, then how about Larry Niven’s smoke ring? A microgravity gas torus that rotates around a neutron star, every single thing about the smoke ring makes for a fabulous vacation locale for the adventurous. Again, you would want a good long trip in order to give yourself time to explore. You would definitely want to visit an integral tree, but there’s so much else to see. Again, you’d want a native guide. And possibly a moderate arsenal, since you’re likely to run into moderate danger from time to time. That torus is definitely not a landscaped park.

5. Okay, and for the truly adventurous, it would be utterly splendid to visit Tiptree’s Tyree. In the body of one of the Tyreans, of course, and ideally with Tivonel as your guide. She’s so cheerful and good-natured. Naturally this would have to be before the events in Up the Walls of the World, since you would want Tyree in decent shape.

I think those are my top five picks for vacations in SFF worlds. How about you all? Got a great destination to add to a tourist brochure?

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6 Comments Vacationing in SFF Worlds

  1. SarahZ

    Dinotopia springs to mind – gorgeous scenery and intelligent, talking dinosaurs living peacefully with humans. What’s not to love?

  2. Allan Shampine

    Fun bit of history. I did a lot of LARPing back in the day, and some of the people I gamed with worked with Larry Niven to create a Dream Park corporation that was dedicated to bringing Dream Park to life. They developed a centralized computer system that would tie into foam swords with impact sensors, among other things. They were at GenCon one year with a sci-fi setup – an early take on an escape room. Ultimately fizzled out, but you’ve got to dream the dream!

  3. Rachel

    One day that particular dream will surely become reality. I bet in the pretty near future. Too bad that early effort fizzled.

    Dinotopia sounds like a great vacation spot!

  4. mona

    I’m surprised nobody mentioned a weekend in Hogsmeade or Hogwarts, hah.

    But really, I think the Floating Islands would be an awesome place to explore! I wouldn’t mind visiting the Raksura’s Far Reaches either. Accompanied by plenty of friendly Raksura, of course. Or the library in McKillip’s Alphabet of Thorns. There’s also that island in the Lee’s last Claidi Journal, the one with hot food growing on/in trees and animals that all get along (given a ring to make it work for me). And those’re just what I can think of off the top of my head right now! Oh! Winding Circle Temple in Emelan (Pierce’s Circle of Magic). I’d have so much fun invading Gorse’s kitchen and maybe learning the basics of different crafts.

  5. Charlotte

    I would like to spend a few weeks riding and camping in the Blue Sword world a year after the events of the book (they have nice horses, nice tents, and nice scenery). I would like very much to visit the fountain court and Luthe’s lake. Peaceful, scenic, and culturally interesting.

    I did think about a visit to the Raksura, but frankly the chance of being eaten by the Fell is kind of a dealbreaker for me there.

    I would enjoy visiting the Floating Islands. That’s really quite safe (usually), and obviously the food would be really good. But it would be kind of disappointing if you couldn’t fly, which probably you wouldn’t be able to do.

  6. Rachel

    Charlotte, me too! I didn’t think of that one, but I would definitely enjoy a vacation in Damar.

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