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.



  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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