Well, I wasn’t actually sure I was going to get anything written this month (and technically I missed October). Non-band life got very stressful and I haven’t had a lot of brain for anything (and make no guarantees this article stays on any kind of track). But we’ve made it to November now. We’ve snuck past the spooky season and gotten to what I regularly consider the start of fall (at least since I moved to Phoenix). And fall means cooler nights meant to be spent next to a fire with a mug of hot cocoa or cider. A better time than normal to find new (or old) favorite fictional worlds to get lost in (whether books, movies, gaming, whatever) and thankfully never live in – because let’s be honest, while we may discuss it from time to time, there’s not many fictional worlds that would be a definite improvement on our own to live in.
Admittedly, some of that train of thought is because one of my favorite authors recently released a novella in preparation for the actual novel that comes out this month. Jim Butcher has managed to write a number of worlds I’m quite fond of, across the Dresden Files, The Cinder Spires, and Codex Alera. The Cinder Spires just got a novella in September and book 2 (“The Olympian Affair”) releases in November. Life means acquisition of those is a bit delayed, but “The Aeronaut’s Windlass” was one of those books I think I read in two sittings, tops. Mr. Butcher has definitely improved his world building since those first few Dresden Files books (don’t get me wrong, the first 3 aren’t terrible, but that’s definitely a series that gets better as it goes). All 3 of those worlds are fun to visit, but I wouldn’t want to live in any of them (and if we are living in Dresden’s world or something like it, I’m quite happy not knowing, thank you – mortal problems are quite enough, I don’t need supernatural/immortal ones to add to it; I may be willing to make an exception if it can permanently solve financial woes).
Lately, however, I’ve been spending a lot of time in a different fictional world that I’ve been fond of for about 20 years. Of course, I usually visit that world at a table with a bunch of dice, not with a controller, but no matter how I’m stopping by, Faerûn is a (literally) magical place that I’d strongly advise losing more than a few hours in. Sure, Baldur’s Gate (the video game) is a nice introduction, but I’m always going to recommend visiting it the way it was designed for – at a table with friends and dice (though Ed Greenwood and R.A. Salvatore in particular have some excellent books set there to enjoy).
That said, the same group at the table might want to visit one of the few fictional worlds that I MIGHT be willing to hang out in – the world of Eberron. The magic of Faerûn certainly sounds like fun (and is as a game), but I am far too attached to the modern amenities that Eberron tends to analog through very clever uses of magic, though it’s still missing the internet that I’m so attached to here in the real world (and yes, the internet is one of the major reasons I wouldn’t want to go somewhere else, that and indoor plumbing, but some of these fantasy worlds at least include that). Eberron is actually much closer to what I imagine a world with so much magic would turn into than pretty much any world I’ve been introduced to.
I’ve been a long time away from one of my favorite worlds to visit in a book. Simply called The Land, if you’ve never read the Thomas Covenant series by Stephen R Donaldson, you should. Now, there are some caveats to mention before anyone asks “Why would you recommend that?!”. First, there is a section about 150 or so pages into the first book that is hard to get through, and not because it’s badly written. It is not a common occurrence if you can get through it, and the series itself is worth it. If you can’t get through it, I won’t judge. Second, and this one is weird for a series – Thomas Covenant is one of the least likable protagonists I’ve EVER read. He’s brilliantly written, absolutely has character depth and development, and is still not someone most people are going to like. I don’t believe you’re really meant to. The side characters and the world itself, on the other hand, are worth the time. Brian and I both have had the final book of the last Thomas Covenant series (there are 3, two trilogies, and one four book series primarily about a different character in the world) for years and have been unable to bring ourselves to read it because then it’s done. Sure, we can reread it, but it won’t be the same as the first time through.
Now, in relation to the spooky season that just snuck by me, I’ve also been spending a lot of time in Sanctuary. Some wonderful quality of life changes were made for Season 2 of Diablo 4 and I’ve been enjoying it much more than Season 1 (and might actually get this character to level 100, maybe even more than one of them).
This combination of seasons also means it’s that time of year for one of my favorite movies of all time. Disney’s “Nightmare Before Christmas”. Y’all can debate Halloween vs Christmas movie as much as you’d like, the correct answer is both. And honestly, there’s never a bad time to watch (and sing along with) “Nightmare Before Christmas”.
What about you? What are your favorite fictional worlds to get lost in for a few hours?