If you could choose one fictional world to live in, which would it be?

Since the answers so far have only covered mainstream fictional worlds, I must now put on my hipster glasses. There.

In answer to the question, while Star Trek wouldn’t be too bad, for me, the obvious answer would easily be The Culture, the eponymous post-scarcity interstellar civilization described by Iain M. Banks.

What is the Culture?

“Hippies. With nukes.”
— Iain M Banks

Occupying roughly the intersection point between society, movement, heritage and IRC chat room, the Culture is a hegemonic, though remarkably peaceful, force in the known galaxy. It’s an anarchist, transhumanist, posthuman, space-faring utopia (although like any utopia it does have its significant flaws). As such, it is a consensus-based society which is largely space-based. As Wikipedia puts it,

… the Culture is composed of several inter-bred humanoid species, as well as artificially intelligent sentient machines, with intelligences ranging from human-equivalent drones, to hyper-intelligent Minds. The Culture's economy is maintained automatically by its non-sentient machines, with high-level work entrusted to the Minds' subroutines, which allows its humanoid and drone citizens to indulge their passions, romances, hobbies, or other activities, without servitude.

The Minds are generally housed in great vessels or habitats, and their vast abilities (intellectual and material) afford them the defacto status of elders. Although there is a consensus based, thoroughly democratic governance, and although the Minds themselves abhor exploitation, compulsion and servitude, it is ultimately difficult for mere biological beings to intellectually compete with an entity able to simulate entire universes in real-time.

Humans in the Culture, then, are able to do pretty much whatever they want because, although their aggregate contribution is certainly valued, it isn't necessary in any absolute sense. They are left to pursue their own interests and, if they so wish, to tag along on a Culture vessel, a bit like a weird cross between a houseguest, a hitchhiker, a backpacker and a housepet.

Why would you want to live there (when you could live in the Federation of Star Trek?)

Because the average Culture citizen leads a life that makes life in the Federation of Star Trek look like abject poverty.

Any Culture citizen can expect a lifespan of at least four centuries (presumably infinite, should they choose to upload themselves). Their engineered bodies are capable of consciously controlling their own metabolism, moods, and hormone cycles, with the option of complete or partial sex change in a matter of weeks. They have full Internet-equivalent access built into the brain via the neural lace (covering all the senses if desired), which also provides enhanced memory and recall, a heads-up display, a machine interface, and temporary mental speed-up (combined with the ability to gland various stimulants, this can briefly allow them to plan and react as if normal humans were standing still).

The Culture has no need of money. No, not in the way they say Star Trek works, with its replicator rations and its scarce Latinum; I’m talking actual lack of money. The effectively limitless industry of a post-scarcity society means that any conceivable material needs are taken care of automatically. If a Culture citizen wants to own a planetoid or a mile-long star cruiser (although the impulse to do so would seem a bit needy to a Culture citizen), that’s not really an issue. If they wanted to recreate fractal cityscapes across the surface of a moon, they can do so. Restrictions only come in when what the person wants is clearly inimical to other intelligences, or when they don’t find anyone else willing to collaborate on whatever project they come up with. In the case when one’s wishes bump up against the well-being of others, there are various forms of counterfeit reality — the most radical meaning that you’ll be living out your life completely immersed in a fantasy world catering to your evil whims.

So yes, even life-long incarceration by the Culture might be considered paradise in your typical SF universe.

Sounds boring. Wouldn’t you want to go on an adventure?

If I lived in the Culture? Heck no. They wouldn’t really need me to do so, and so I wouldn’t feel the urge to possibly get into harm’s way.

Sure, there would probably be people willing to risk their lives in service of Contact or Special Circumstances, and good on them, but if I wanted the carefully-metered illusion of danger, I could do that just by spending my sleeping periods participating in shared dreamspace playing the part of an action hero. Or extreme sports with a backed-up mindstate. Or whatever it is that Culture citizens would dream up when those activities get stale.

I’m a simple soul. I don’t care much for exploration if that means I’m forced to spend said exploration in the void between star systems dressed only in a unitard, living in perpetual fear of someone sneezing and accidentally causing the warp core to detonate. I’m not knocking the choice, but it’s not my cup of tea.

Me, I’m choosing a world of full-immersion VR scenarios where I can literally live out my dreams in whatever manner I choose. A world in which I could study my favorite subjects under a superhumanly gifted tutor. A world where I spend my leisure periods attending parties, orgies, moon-sized libraries or any games I could think up (or possibly all of the above at the same time), all while wearing the body of my choice.

For four centuries in my own body, or eternity.

Not too shabby, right?

19 Replies to “If you could choose one fictional world to live in, which would it be?”

  1. Undoubtedly HOBBITON, the land of hobbits from Lord of the rings. Why you ask me ? Lets just go through the images first.

    N

    Now apart from being beautiful and serene, the reasons I would love to live there would be

    1. Wonderful Climate – The climate of the Shire is cool, but with not overly cold winters, and with fairly warm summers. Rainfalls are fairly frequent and snow is rare.
    2. Wonderful people – The people in hobbiton are known to be very kind, jubilant and peaceful people. They believe in simple life of farming, eating and socializing.
    3. Lifestyle – Seven meals a day. Breakfast, second breakfast, elevensies, luncheon, afternoon tea, dinner, and, later in the evening, supper. 😀

    Oh and also I could smoke those herbs which they refer to as ‘pipe-weed’ all day long. Life would be wonderful there.

  2. Hum… Let me think…

    Star Wars: existing secret elite magical users who can control other people's mind, and it's totally legal. And they have slavery. No.

    Lord of the Rings: Entire race of people are classified as evil, because… Only white people get to be heroes, women don't have much rights. It's basically medieval Europe with regular white people, pointy eared white people, short and stocky white people, and hairy feet white people. So… No.

    Game of Thrones: Hahahaha….No.

    Harry Potter: Children are put into houses based on arbitrary “qualities", you'll need to be either brave, or smart, or pure evil, otherwise, you go to house of kitchen-sink for left-overs. 7 years of magical school teach you nothing about actual world and how it functions (physics? Algebra? REAL history? literature? foreign languages?…). There's no higher education. After graduating high school, everyone either work for the government or ma and pa shops. The world hasn't seen any kind of significant innovation for the past 500 years. People are still using parchments and hand write everything. Oh, and disabled people are treated like a disgrace and house elves are being enslaved. So… No.

    Hunger Game: The economy of the world make zero sense. I have no idea how it could exist, AT ALL. So… No.

    Marvel/DC Cinematic Universe: The city I live in got completely destroyed every couple of years. Not only there're big name super heroes flying around, there're small time super heroes smashing houses around me. Being a “regular person" in that world really sucks. so No.

    If I have to choose, I'll live in Star Trek Universe. I'll even apply for Star Fleet. I can be a communication officer, explore the final frontier, being treated with respect, doesn't worry about money, and most importantly, not die (as long as I stay away from red uniforms).

  3. I wanna be the VERY BEST THAT NO ONE EVER WAS! YES Pokemon!!!

    I want to be in Ash Ketchup, i mean Ash Ketchum's shoes and catch them all.. Pokemon has always been a fantasy that captured the hearts of millions globally and still does! Why? Because it shows an incredibly original universe where "animals" coexist with human beings happily. Gym battles, tournaments, an ACTUAL JOB as a Pokemon trainer- say goodbye to office life- How cool is that!!!

    Can you imagine owning a Pikachu?


    I want to hug him so much! (Excuse my childhood's fantasy!)

  4. I soooo want to say Discworld, but like any human I'd die in a second there. So instead I'm going to live in the fictional universe of The Martian. For the un-initiated The Martian was that major motion picture that came out about a year ago that had Matt Damon getting rescued by people other than Tom Hanks.

    This is sort of a cop out though. All of the events from The Martian take place in an alternate Earth that is incredibly similar. But this Earth has one major difference. America is fucking rich.

    Somehow, America has enough money to build, and launch, a space craft that is large enough to hold a gym, a full sized kitchen, empty hallways, and separate bunkbeds. But building a rocket with the bare necessities to the moon in 1973 cost $25.4 billion. This means this America not only have a NASA that is more funded than its ever been, America has enough money to send people, not robots, people, to mars, because they want some more rocks and to see of if they can grow plants with shit. Oh, and this is like their third trip to Mars.

    So while going on a fantasy adventure would be awesome, I think I'd rather stay home and enjoy a utopian America that can now afford all of its problems.

  5. Neal Asher's Polity Universe,

    A world in which humans are ruled by a collection of hyperintelligent benevolent AIs. In the inner planets of the polity human empire humans are as rich as they would like to be, they are practically immortal and free to do whatever they desire with the only rule the AIs impose is that they do not harm other humans or AIs, all humans are able to modify their bodies at will to look whichever way they like. The AIs are seen as extensions of the human mind and have their own personalities and quirks which makes them much like humans, war drones are absolutely nuts and behave like characters from action movies, although they look like giant insects rigged with weaponry. But golems look like perfect humans and attempt to behave as such even though they have superiour intelligence and have inhuman strenght and speed. A human although far below the level of any AI can improve their intelligence and processing speed by augumenting themselves with enhancements so they can somewhat keep up with the AIs, which is what most people do when they work alongside AIs.

    The only real problems within the polity are at the line, the outer worlds that deal with seperatist movements which are supposed idealist that do not believe in the humanity of the AIs, but really are bored sadists that are resisting the AIs because they do not allow them to harm others. and conflicts with outlaws outside the polity. The AI allow any planet (or induvidual for that matter, AI or human) that votes so leave the polity, although many ask to return after a few years when welfare has plummetted and the planet falls in disarray.

    There are not many aliens in the polity world, only a few artifacts remain of most races which seem to be destroyed by a technology that preys on sentient life, which admittedly is quite eerie and a reason to consider not living there, along with the prador race, an awfully violent race of crablike creatures with a taste for human flesh. But if you live in the center world you have nothing to fear. I’d try to sign up for the Earth Central Security and maybe train to be a sparkind soldier, which is an elite branch of the military, only mental requirements as anyone can be modified to be physically strong. Then if I happen to die I can tranfer my mind to a golem body and be a superhuman! But even as a regular polity citizen life cannot be much worse than the real world.

    I was inspired to write this aswer by Brandon Li and Björn Paulsen’s answers describing the Culture, I found the universes to appear very similar and am interested to read the book(s?), I hope I made someone interested in Asher's polity novels 🙂

    I hope this answer wasn't too long winded, as you can tell I am a great fan of the series ;P

  6. The problem with fictional worlds is that I would not be the protagonist in any of them. I mean, imagine travelling to the Star Wars universe, only to find out you’re a stormtrooper on a backwater planet with bad food and angry inhabitants?

    So to this extent, it is necessary to think of a fictional world where, by default, you become the protagonist. I briefly considered one of those fictional worlds where nearly all males have died out, all females have grown beautiful and worship any male who shows up, no matter how ugly and fat they may be.

    But even that’s not for me. If I had to live in a fictional world, I’d choose one of the ones I actually write about – since they are very close to living in this world, but are in the future with cool technology. Better still, being the author of such worlds, I actually know what’s going on. In fact, since it is my world, I can write it to suit my needs, and write myself in as a character. Come to think of it, I am, without dispute, the god of such worlds.

  7. Warhammer 40k, for the sake of becoming great through scientific research and leading armies for the Tau empire to finally fix the screwed up universe.

    “The Warhammer 40,000 game takes place in a science fantasy universe, whose extreme dystopianism inspired the word "grimdark" – from the game's tagline, "In the grim darkness of the far future, there is only war" – as a shorthand for similarly ultraviolent or amoral fiction.

    Most stories are set in the 41st millennium, 38,000 years in the future, sometime between 40,990 and 40,999. Mankind has settled more than a million worlds across the galaxy, most of which are ruled by the Imperium of Man, a brutal theocratic regime united in its worship of the immortal God-Emperor of Mankind. Despite its size and power, the Imperium teeters on the brink of collapse due to a combination of escalating war, corruption, bureaucratic inefficiency, and technological stagnation.

    The Imperium is in a continuous state of war with a number of hostile forces:

    the Tau, a young, idealistic race that wants to unite the races of the galaxy under their rule for "The Greater Good." They will try to do this by any means necessary. Many Tau units fight in armored suits that resemble Mecha, due to their race's inability to fight hand to hand.

    the Necrons, skeletal robots whose race is patterned after ancient Egypt. After waking up after thousands of years, their primary goal is to rediscover lost dynasties, as well as return to their organic bodies. Using some of the oldest and most advance technology in the galaxy, they will destroy any sentient life that gets in their way.

    the Eldar, humanoid aliens patterned after the high elves common to fantasy fiction. Eldar are long lived, but dying out. They use a combination of powerful psychics and advanced technology, as well as speed and cunning to ensure their species' survival. Otherwise their souls will be devoured by Slaanesh.

    the Dark Eldar, cousins of the Eldar who ritually torture other beings to stave off death, as the Chaos God Slaanesh will consume their souls should they permanently die.

    the Tyranids, swarms of rapidly evolving, all-devouring creatures from outside the galaxy, controlled by a gestalt Hive Mind that seeks to consume all bio-mass. There is speculation that they are actually running from something worse.

    the Orks, whose simplistic personalities, reckless tactics and ramshackle technology make them the comic relief of the setting, but are no less brutal and deadly for it. They become one of the most dangerous races once they stop fighting each other and form a WAAAAGH!

    The forces of chaos. A Combination of fallen space marine chapters, corrupted humans, and chaotic daemons. All are in service to the Chaos Gods.

    The Chaos Gods live in the Warp, a parallel dimension of unpredictable psychic energy from which psykers draw their power and through which faster-than-light travel is possible. Chaos is central to the setting and is the fundamental cause of much of the conflict in the galaxy. Over the millennia, the forces of Chaos have destroyed all the once-glorious and enlightened civilizations of old, most recently sabotaging the Emperor of Mankind's attempt to lead humanity back into a new age of prosperity. It corrupts the body and soul and decimated the Eldar race. It forces the Dark Eldar to perpetually new lows of depravity, and regularly sends armies of daemons and corrupted mortals to terrorize and massacre the denizens of realspace. Chaos exists only to persist and spread, the Dark Gods delighting only in the destruction and disorder they sow.” – 40k Wiki

  8. If I could also choose my lineage, I would prefer to live in Amber as a relative of the royal family, albeit a distant one.

    I would visit the dungeons of the royal palace and walk the Pattern of Amber.

    That would give me the power to travel through Shadow: the many realities cast in Amber’s image, an infinite range of possibilities that include any possibility, including but not limited to our own modern Earth. You can literally find any world you can imagine, and have Star Trek’s Federation at your disposal or even any world with any level from the Kardashan scale if you wish. You could be worshiped as God or reviled as the Devil. Anything you desire.

  9. Such a lovely question with so many possibilities!

    World of Warcraft – Be a warlock, because warlocks are awesome. Being able to summon demons and fight badass bosses would be amazing. Downside is that you are constantly in danger and if you are someone with no special abilities, you are kinda screwed.

    Diablo – “Death Rains from Above!” Being a demon hunter would be a real treat! Killing demons and laugh in the face of the likes of the Evils while slaughtering them. Downside, being a regular person means you could be killed by literally anything.

    Final Fantasy – Who wouldn’t want to be part of a party to save the world? Even a regular person could become a badass (Tifa for example). Downside, you could be in the wrong place at the right time and become the villain or worse… Dead.

    Disgaea – Who wouldn’t want to be a demon and try to take over the netherworld? Even Angels go to the Netherworld and try to take control in some cases. Downside, you could be a prinny.

    Of the 4 games listed here. I think I would take my chances with the fantasy world of Disgaea. I am quite sure I would not be a prinny and I could be a badass in that world. Even if I weren’t related to the Overlord.

  10. Pokemon world or the beyblading world. Why?

    POKEMON

    There is unlimited fun in this world. You are allowed to travel anywhere around the world, (ignoring the fact that you travel alone). Catch Pokemon and take care of them (much like as we keep pets). Participate in competitions, tournaments and leagues, and battle with trainers around the world. And if you win the tournament, you are assured world fame.

    BEYBLADE

    There is more than unlimited fun in this world. It's better than Pokemon world as in Pokemon world, you might easily get in danger if you encounter a wild and fierce Pokemon; but in the beyblading world, you are safe. What's so amazing about this world ? Your parents allow you to play beyblades all the time and take part in tournaments around the world. And if somehow you get a bit-beast in your beyblade, you'll become one of the strongest players. And also, by playing and analysing beyblades, you can even become a physics expert !

    Thank you

  11. I would have to pick between two different worlds:

    1.Equestria: This is pretty much any bronies dream home. I would choose it for many reasons:

    -There is always something/someone trying to make the world better/take it over but fail

    -I would get to see the events of the latest episodes of MLP:FIM right in front of me in person

    -being a brony, I would know all of the major locations and people to see. It would be a f***ing tourist act for me!

    -with the last point in action, I’d be able to meet Twilight Sparkle personally (she is probably the least-protected princess I have ever heard of, including Princess Peach) and everyone else I know from the show

    2. the Minecraft universe

    let’s assume I am in creative mode, I have no mods added, and I am in the latest updated version. It doesn’t matter how many points I make for it. I can play god in my own unique world! I could build anything, fight anyone I see fit, go on adventures, and when I’m bored, I can just make a new world and start over!

  12. After a rather long time deliberating this, I decided on Henrietta, in Maggie Stiefvater’s series The Raven Cycle. Technically speaking, I’m pretty sure Henrietta is a real place (at least, I got some results when I looked it up), but 98% of the links popping up were for Stiefvater’s books.

    Anyway.

    Henrietta is based off of real places. The town may be made up, but the rest of the world isn’t. But it’s got enough magic and excitement to be different from just the average world, and it’s not just centered around the main characters, either. Magic is a confirmed force that multiple people know about, psychics in Henrietta are legitimate and eerily accurate, the town is located on a ley line featuring a magical forest—Henrietta is one of the most interesting settings I’ve seen.

    It’s an amalgamate of Welsh mythology, Virginia mountains, and magic. What more could I want?

  13. Narnia.

    The Last Battle reveals a perfect world, where all good people live eternally and joyfully together, reunited with their lost loved ones and just living in eternal bliss.

    It would be wonderful to see everyone I love, together and happy.

    “You've no idea how good an old joke sounds when you take it out again after a rest of five or six hundred years.” ― C.S. Lewis, The Last Battle

    What a lovely image of Paradise.

  14. Oh, I know: Gor! (you know, John Norman Gor Novels).

    It wouldn’t be too hard to blend in the Counter-Earth’s society and norms (I have the Scrolls somewhere, and Internet is full of role-playing Gorean rooms, I can always practice—right?)

    Now, the question is: what do I want to do in the overly sexualised, cheesy BDSMish world of Gor?

    (credit: Boris Vallejo’s cover of Raiders of Gor)

    Rise a socialist revolution. OK, I know there isn’t much of a working class in Gor, so a slave uprising in manner of Spartacus would be more appropriate, but let me take it further and try to build The Gor Commune.

    Some men just want to watch the world burn—and burning down the Old Gor wouldn’t be a bad thing.

  15. Let’s not lie. Pretty much every fictional universe sucks absolute balls if you’re not someone with the main cast’s abilities. Even then, it probably still sucks.

    Rule by reactionary militant monks or racist bureaucrats in Star Wars.

    Constant threat of existential wars against orcs and colored people in Lord of the Rings.

    Armies of bandits and monsters 10 feet away from the main roads in every fantasy game (Warcraft, Elder Scrolls, Witcher, Runescape, etc)

    Crapsack lives in generals owing to the apocalypse in most young adult teen novels (Hunger Games, Divergent, Legend, Mazerunner)

    Just everything in Game of Thrones. And Warhammer, both versions.

    No, the only choice is the Culture, in their eponymous sci fi series, which covers various stories in this hyperadvanced civilization from the human Medieval ages to the end of the 3rd millenium. No matter what point in this timeframe I choose to live in though, life will be awesome. The Culture is a civilization where all the utopian promises of science have come true, and more. Members of the Culture can have more stuff than they could ever want, are endowed with the centuries long lifespans and gene modified bodies needed to enjoy everything in the universe to the fullest. Sentient AI “minds” handle all the day to day functions of trillions of lives with perfect precision. Although the Culture is one of the only civilizations with the technology to “sublime,” or advance to a higher dimension of existence, it chooses to stay in this world to help bring other species to their level of post scarcity perfection. The world of the Culture is one free from suffering, but not one without fulfillment either.

    An Orbital, one of the Culture’s ringworlds which dwarfs the sun in size

    Oh, and honorary mention to Ranger’s Apprentice. The main kingdom in that world, Araluen, is pretty much medieval England with modern sensibilities, social values, and healthcare. So if you ever want to experience Renaissance fair fun without all the sexism, racism, classism, everythingism, and disease, this is the universe to move to.

  16. I usually hate the questions about which fictional worlds I want to live in, because I have to be pay attention to the loopholes: Can I survive? Will I end up a side character? What are the implications of that world becoming reality? and questions like that. But now that I get to choose my role, I like to give it a go. I'm also not gonna choose a MC because I wanna be me in that world.

    So I'm going to choose any world from a mecha anime and I'm gonna be a mech engineer. If I had to choose a specific world then I'd probably go with Neon Genesis Evangelion or Code Geass. Because in these worlds engineers have a larger impact on the world.

    Can you imagine how cool that would be to work on a giant robot the size of a skyscraper that wields a sword?! It is so regrettable that in our world, building such an awesomeness is neither economically justifiable nor practical.

  17. Probably Homestuck.

    Before I go into detail, a quick “spoiler warning” just in case you might plan to read it later on.

    Homestuck is a webcomic about four children who play a game. Unbeknownst to them, the game’s purpose is the propagation of existence itself.

    This game is called Sburb. As soon as one person installs the game, the end of the world begins and meteors begin hurling towards the planet.

    The purpose of Sburb is to create a new universe. Rather than being a game you play on a computer, a new pocket universe is created which is home to several planets, one for each of the game’s players, and this is where the player escapes to from the meteor shower.

    Each player is assigned a quest, a planet, a title, and many such things for them to go on a fantastical adventure. I think going on an an adventure tailor-made for you and your friends based on your likes, dislikes, strengths and weaknesses sounds actually really fun to anybody!

    I would love to be in this universe.

  18. Tough question. I think it would be either one of these three universes:

    -The Discworld from the book series by Terry Pratchett, an RPG-inspired world where magic is as common as the laws of physics, and while everything is dangerous and chaotic still everything sounds so fun and adventurous. I could be a warrior or a mage or a warrior mage and meet Rincewind, Granny Weatherwax, Susan Sto, Death and Sam Vimes and live crazy adventures;

    -The Hainish Cycle from the book series by Ursula K. Le Guin, where I would be an interstellar adventurer and explorer sent by the Ekumen to explore new fantastic worlds that I couldn’t even imagine. I mean, there are more than 80 planets to explore in the whole League! I would never get bored of this universe (even though it might be a dangerous universe). I would prefer to be a Gethenian, so being a androgyne with both sexes I could have the best of both worlds!

    -Or the Saga of the Skolian Empire from the book series by Catherine Asaro, a world where the space was colonized by modified humans with telepathic empathy and where spaceships can travel many times the speed of light, making interstellar distances as insignificant as walking to the nearby grocery. I would want specifically to be a Rhon psion member of the Ruby Dynasty, preferrable an equally golden-colored and extremely-long-lived offspring of Roca Skolia, so I could read and talk in the minds of other fellow empaths and live many adventures through known space. I mean, I could even be a freaking telepathic empathic rock star and that would be strange!

  19. I would love to be transported to the amazing World of Ice and Fire, to explore the mysterious continent of Sothoryos and its fascinating ruined ancient settlements.

    Go beyond the Bone Mountains and learn about the developed but little-known civilization of Yi-Ti, the World of Ice and Fire’s equivalent of China.

    Travel across the Jade Sea eastward towards Asshai-by-the Shadow and discover the dark city’s forbidden secrets.

    And try traveling westward into the Sunset Sea beyond Lonley Light to find out whether there are any major continents west of Westeros, and possibly even more civilizations outside the boundaries of the Known World.

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