Friday, September 18, 2009

One To Beam Up, Mr. Scott

A few days ago I wrote about historical periods I find interesting, or intriguing. I mentioned that I didn't ever wish myself there, even for a moment, due to the problems associated with my favorite time periods. For that matter, I imagine people there would be unlikely to wish themselves magically here, and leave what they are familiar and comfortable experiencing. I've been considering the same question, (would I transport myself to this place?) about some of my favorite fictional worlds.

I'm less hesitant to imagine this, because of the ability to better shape the fantasy world. I can go to the Star Trek or Middle Earth in my mind, shaped by words and movie images, and feel less adrift in the past. These places did not exist, and they are glorified and fanciful versions of anything that could exist. They are appealing precisely because, despite the challenges, they are better than they could be in real life. They aren't created to be perfect; but they are damn fine places to visit.

Obviously the Star Trek world would be a great place to visit. Assuming you're not on the Enterprise, and threatened by a villain of the week, it's a safe and amazing world, free of needs and with countless gadgets and worlds to explore. Honestly even the Enterprise fares okay. I could be some Ensign in the Microbiology Lab, scramble off to my quarters during those crazy red alerts, then get the story on Kirk's heroics during my weekly lunches with Sulu. (I'm buddies with Sulu; Kirk and Spock are too busy. And I'm a good sounding board for Sulu's problems with his husband.)

One of the reasons these stories resonate with us to such an extent is the nature of the worlds created. They seem like great places, perhaps the Star Trek world most of all. I could never wish myself away from the real world, with the depth and clarity of the present moment infinitely richer than any fiction. I do see the appeal in the thought experiment, however. What about these fantasies makes sense, attracts us?

My top five fictional worlds I'd like to visit, in a vaguely ranked order:

1. Star Trek, in the original series era. Sure, the Next Generation is safer with cooler toys, (Holodecks? With a "erase holodeck history" option so Jaime never ever has to know about her fabricated twin sister?) but the original series had it down. Fast ships, a noble purpose, unexplored vast expanses. It's like the Wild West, only we've befriended the natives and are bringing medicine and food. We get to be the good guys.

2. Middle Earth. I couldn't resist. Tolkien worked hard to make a world really live, and he succeeded. In Star Trek it was the Wild West, in Middle Earth it's the dark ages. No plague to devastate you, just a clear mind and sharp sword. I'd still end up hanging out eating in Hobbiton for a year. Anywhere with second breakfast and elevensies is all right by me.

3. Various JidaiGeki. A lot like the Tolkien world, only in Japan. Also usually a nicer place than medieval Japan really was, although not as romanticized as Middle Earth.

4. Jim Butcher's Chicago. Once again this isn't a nice place, but I love the sense of purpose. I assume if I get transported here, I get some magical powers. Naturally.

5. Singing in the Rain. I always wanted to be a dancer.

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