Posted by: Phil Anderson | June 23, 2014

Lost Worlds

One of the things that draws me in to a story is an appealing setting, the world the characters inhabit. It could be the geography, the landscape, the culture, or the type of people who inhabit that place. If I find myself imagining what it would be like to live there, or at least wishing I could visit, that’s a book (or better yet, a series) that I will continue to read and enjoy.

Most of my favorite books are fantasies, but I’m also old enough to appreciate the appeal of “the good old days.” A well-written history can present a world just as absorbing as Narnia,  as beautiful as the Land of Oz, and as immersive as Middle Earth.

Who wouldn’t like to be a pioneer, charting a course across the trackless plains in a covered wagon? Or a sailor, reefing the sheets on a tall ship as a squall builds on the horizon off the port bow? Imagine living in a castle fortress among a chivalrous band of questing knights, or finding a lost civilization hidden for centuries by impenetrable jungle. There’s the Wild West, the Roaring Twenties, Victorian London, and Imperial China.

Of course if I’m honest, I wouldn’t really like to live in any of these settings. I’m not a fan of danger, violence, oppression, hunger, or back-breaking work. I appreciate being healthy and I take indoor plumbing for granted.

The appeal of other times and places is in their romanticized versions. It takes a storyteller to present all the excitement and atmosphere with half the peril and discomfort.

So even if someone invented a time machine that could carry me anywhere in history, I’d rather go to the library and visit through the pages of books.

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Responses

  1. Too true! Whenever I’m driving through the US on an interstate, particularly when there’s a thunderstorm, I always imagine driving through that territory in a covered wagon. Pioneers had some courage! Indoor plumbing and air-conditioning have made us soft, and I like it that way. I’m happy to keep the adrenaline-surging danger in my life confined to books.

  2. Yep, indoor plumbing … That is always my go-to on why I’d never want to go into the past. (Also why I don’t like camping either … )


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