Welcome to the first Wednesday of the month. Life has been hectic and crazy, so I have not written a lot since the last IWSG back at the beginning of June.
The Insecure Writer’s Support Group question for July 2022 is:
If you could live in any book world, which one would you choose?
The easy answer, and therefore the answer I am going with here, is the world of Amber, from Roger Zelazny‘s Amber Chronicles. This is because by its very nature the world (or more accurately, multiverse) of Amber contains all possible other worlds. Were I of the royal blood of Amber (and really, how could I not be?) I would be able to, after certain trials and tests, travel to any world that I desired, simply by picturing that world in my head and then going for a walk.
With the easy answer out of the way, let’s look at some other possibilities.
I have read huge stacks of fiction over the past 40+ years. With few exceptions, none of the worlds therein are worlds I would like to live in, no matter how compelling the world-building.
For instance, Bas-Lag from China Mieville‘s books Perdido Street Station, The Scar, and The Iron Council. Beautifully rendered, exquisite worldbuilding, richly detailed, and full of horrors (slake moths, the Malarial Queendom, and the Remade, to name a few) like I have seldom encountered elsewhere.
Tolkein’s Middle Earth is a possibility, but the realities of living in a pre-industrial society just don’t appeal to me.
The world Susanna Clarke created in Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell has potential, but then I think of all of the horrors of the twentieth century (and also the 21st!) and add magic to the mix, and I don’t see it being anything other than unimaginably worse than what the mundane world has seen in the past hundred-plus years.
And I suppose that is a good reason for the ambiguity of the answers: a heroic story exists in a world where heroes are needed, and such worlds tend to be terrible for all but the most privileged, who themselves are usually the reason heroes are needed in the first place.
Even the world of Amber is not immune to these issues. The protagonist is a prince and potential heir to the throne, and is himself the cause of much suffering across the multiverse in his quest for revenge. That he is the hero of the story doesn’t mean he is a Good Guy, and as some of the revisionist super-hero comics of the last decade have demonstrated, when heroes and villains clash, the collateral damage can be massive.
Moving into mainstream and literary fiction would bring us into the present world perhaps at a single remove or enhanced in some subtle ways. Bruce Sterling coined the term “now-punk” to refer to any fiction written about the contemporary world, e.g. a story about the world in 2022 which is written in 2022. I would add a secondary definition to now-punk which is “reality, only moreso.” And an amped-up reality has been the base state of reality for about the past twenty years, and even more over the past five, so by any honest measure we are currently living in a cyberpunk dystopia.
So all that being said, I will stick with my original answer of living in the Amber universe, with the possibility of taking a walk to any other world I can conceive of, if only for a short vacation.
I understand Arrakis is beautiful this time of year.
(So with all that being said, where would you like to live, or visit, or avoid at all costs?)
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