Why do we devour novels? Consume comics? Binge shows and films? Because we love to immerse ourselves in worlds that aren’t our own. We get to mentally escape reality for a little while and glut ourselves on all that fiction offers us. Well, what if we didn’t have to just use our imaginations to visit these fictional worlds? We asked ourselves this question and decided the following worlds need to exist. Why? Why not?
If you’ve ever been dissatisfied with the physics of your round world, then pack your bags and head to the Discworld. Start with a giant turtle named Great A'Tuin swimming through space. Add four huge elephants standing on that turtle’s back. Finish it all off with a 10,000-mile-wide disc resting on the backs of those elephants. And boom, you’ve got your Discworld, including waterfalls that mark the edge of the world drop off. The setting for Terry Pratchett's 41 Discworld series novels, Discworld has some elements similar to Earth but also has its own laws of physics. Magic is present in this world but is more of a science than a mystical force. There is also the issue of reality being stretched a bit thin. Complete with witches, wizards, dwarves, centaurs, and your other standard fantasy world residents, there is never a dull moment in Discworld.Want more? Watch the film adaptations such as Hogfather, The Colour of Magic, and Going Postal.
Similar in size to the islands of Indonesia and the Phillippines, the vast archipelago of Earthsea sits amid an expanse of unexplored waters. Earthsea is the setting for Ursula Le Guin’s The Earthsea Cycle fantasy novels. In this mostly temperate climate in which the inhabitants are born with innate magical talents, the early Iron Age-like society strives to keep a harmonious balance between power and responsibility. Watch the film Tales from Earthsea and/or the mini-series Earthsea if you just can’t have enough Earthsea in your life.
Fillory is a whimsical and magical world of abundance, filled with magical beasts, nymphs, and satyrs. Created by the twin rams Ember and Umber and ruled by the four Children of Earth, Fillory is one location where the protagonists from Lev Grossman’s Magicians trilogy dwell. Check out the TV series adaptation The Magicians to further immerse yourself in the Fillorian world.
The medieval, fantasy kingdom of Hyrule is the setting for the video game franchise The Legend of Zelda. Formed by the three goddesses Din, Farore, and Nayru, Hyrule is inhabited by many races including the dominant and elf-like Hylians, human-sized goblin-like Bokoblins, and the ninja-like Sheikah, along with dragons, fairies, and a plethora of other fantasy creatures. With such a multitude of dwellers, there are adventures for everyone in Hyrule.
The continent of Middle-earth with where J. R. R. Tolkein’s The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogy are set. The legendarium of Middle-earth and related worlds are vast. In the most basic terms, Middle-earth’s geography somewhat aligns with Earth’s geography. It is inhabited by humans, elves, hobbits, dwarves, dragons, and many more creatures. There are magical and supernatural elements everywhere. Pro-tip: If you want a relaxing spot for some “me time,” head to The Shire. Want more? Watch the film adaptations.
Do you like anthropomorphic animals that live in houses? Do you enjoy a woodland with a temperate climate? Are you a supporter of magic? Well, then Narnia is for you. Sung into existence by the lion Aslan, Narnia is the setting for C.S. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia novels. Narnia is idyllic. As the Narnian horse Bree put it, "Narnia, the happy land of Narnia. Narnia of the heathery mountains and the thymy downs, Narnia of the many rivers, the plashing glens, the mossy caverns and the deep forests ringing with the hammer of the dwarfs. Oh, the sweet air of Narnia! An hour's life there is better than a thousand years in Calormen." We couldn’t have said it better ourselves.Want more? Watch the film adaptations start with the BBC’s 1988 mini-series The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, then move onto the 2006 movie The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.
Land of Oz
Divided into four countries, the Land of Oz is the setting for L. Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and subsequent books in the series. Surrounded on all sides by a desert protecting the citizens of Oz from invasion. The land is prosperous and its inhabitants (munchkins, gillikins, quadlings, winkies, animals, etc.) are content and kind. If you’re looking for a place with easy going folks where not much happens, but you’re happy anyway, then visit Oz.Want more? Watch the classic 1939 film The Wizard of Oz, the1978 musical The Wiz, the unintentionally disturbing Return to Oz, or the mini-series Tin Man.
Riverside is the island in the river in the middle of the unnamed city in which Serial Box’s own Ellen Kushner’s protagonists from Swordspoint live. Kushner describes it best (of course!): “It’s inspired by all the cities I have read about, studied, and walked in, and loved the best: Elizabethan London, 18th century Paris, 1980s New York, and many others both real and fictional.” Be sure to check out the serial Tremontaine for more Riverside gazing.
The elaborate and richly detailed continent of Tamriel on the planet of Nirn is the setting for the action role-playing open world fantasy The Elder Scrolls video games. Divided into nine provinces, Tamriel exists in a pre-medieval world with limited technology, but with the high fantasy elements of magic use, parallel world travel, and mythological creatures. Tamriel is inhabited by humans, elves, orcs, talking animals, lizard-like Argonians, cat-like Khajiit, dwarves, and more. With a rich history, lore, and culture along with gorgeous landscapes, Tamriel is definitely on our TripAdvisor Trip Inspiration list.
Buckbeak, butterbeer, and broomsticks. That’s right, we’ve entered the Wizarding World that we know and love, and that was first introduced to us by the Boy Who Lived: Harry Potter. J. K. Rowling’s Wizarding World isn’t a far-off planet or an idyllic paradise. It is a coextensive world with the Muggle world but remains hidden. Works for us. Explore the ever-changing stairways and corridors of Hogwarts Castle. Take a swim in the Great Lake, but watch out for Grindylows. Or pick up some Fizzing Whizzbees from Honeydukes in Hogsmeade. From witches to House-elves and Quidditch to screaming mandrakes, we’ll take it all. If you need us, you’ll find us having a pint at the Three Broomsticks. Want more? Read the seven novels in the Harry Potter series and the companion writings. Watch the film adaptations.