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Friday, July 03, 2009

Top 10 Fantasy Worlds

There are a lot of fantasy worlds out there: some I'm familiar with, some I'm not. The following list consists of those worlds I consider to be the cream of the crop. I might be wrong, which is why you're welcome to disagree with me in the comments and make your own suggestions. Here goes (in no particular order):
  • Arda (J. R. R. Tolkien)
    For those that don't know, Arda is the name of the world Tolkien created, which included Middle Earth. Probably the most elaborately detailed fantasy world, and most well known, Arda is without competition.
  • Oz (L. Frank Baum)
    What can I say? I'm a fan of The Wizard of Oz. Quirky, fun, and memorable. The only thing working against it are the Munchkins (because they creep me out). But any world with talking lions, men made of tin and straw, and crazy witches with flying monkeys is good in my book.
  • Narnia (C. S. Lewis)
    I'm a bigger fan of the films than the books, but C. S. Lewis' fantasy series has always been in the top for me. What is most fascinating about the series are the allusions to Christian mythology and other mythologies. I like that in my fantasy. Beyond that, though, Narnia is fun. It's sort of like what Oz would be if it wasn't such a quirky place.
  • Star Wars (George Lucas)
    I know that a lot of people consider Star Wars to be science fiction, but it really is a fantasy universe. The Jedi use magic (i.e. the Force) and the universe itself is populated by creatures that look like something out of a bad 80s fantasy movie (which I actually think is a good thing, because they work for Star Wars, but not bad 80s fantasy movies). But you gotta love it, right? It's frakking Star Wars.
  • Utopia (Thomas More)
    If you're not familiar with this world, you probably should pick up More's book. Richly detailed, fascinating, and influential, Utopia is, well, a utopia (at least it's supposed to be). It's a bit old these days, but definitely worth familiarizing yourself with.
  • Wonderland (Lewis Carroll)
    Quirky worlds are always the best ones. If you've never seen Alice in Wonderland or the various live-action versions of Carroll's fantastic novels, then you're missing out. His work is like seeing an acid trip without actually being on acid, and that's pretty impressive to convey in a children's story, don't you think?
  • Neverland (J. M. Barrie)
    For some reason I have an obsession with fantasy worlds in children's and YA books. Neverland is one of those childhood loves for me. My grandma used to make me watch Disney movies, and Peter Pan was always one of my favorites. So, understandably, Neverland is on this list. Plus, the crocodile is awesome!
  • Hyrule (Zelda)
    I grew up with the NES and Gameboy and have played pretty much every Zelda game in existence. So how can I leave this exciting world out of a list like this? Swords, magic, gems, weird creatures, and a lot of other nifty stuff make up this fantasy world, and make it one of the best, most entertaining places to visit (in your head or on your TV, that is).
  • Foo (Obert Skye)
    More quirkiness for this list. Foo is bizarrely fascinating, with strange creatures that can't decide which side of themselves to follow (literally), people with strange powers, and a talking, walking toothpick that used to be a great king. If you haven't read the Leven Thumps series, you should, because it's awesome.
  • You Decide
    Which fantasy world should take up the tenth slot on this list? Let me know in the comments and tell me why!
Thanks for reading!

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  1. I don't think they ever name it, not to my knowledge anyhow, but I'd make 10 the "His Dark Materials" universe by Philip Pullman author of "The Golden Compass", "The Subtle Knife", and the "Amber Spyglass".

    Not only is the "primary" universe very detailed, filled with a mix of magic, and Steampunk, there are several parallel worlds as well.

  2. That's a good suggestion. I thought about putting that on this list, but wasn't sure.

    Thanks for the suggestion!

  3. I have to toss in Michael Moorcock's MULTIVERSE. Just his Elric world if the "multi" part of his mythos is too sci-fi. But the vast majority of his Eternal Champion stuff is heavily or at least surface-heavily classic fantasy. He's currently my #1 for world-building (I'm addicted. Thank god there's so damn much of it!).

  4. I've never read his work. Elric creeps me out, that might be why :P.

  5. Anonymous11:33 AM

    What about Ed Greenwood's "Forgotten Realms?" Granted, much of the richly detailed world was done in gaming supplements, but much of the world has been explored in novels too.

  6. Anon: I've never read anything in the Forgotten Realms stuff, but I did consider putting Krynn on here (the world of Dragonlance). Good suggestion, though. I've heard that series is good.

  7. My current favourite fantasy setting is Ysabeau S. Wilce's Califa, as seen in her Flora Segunda novels and her short fiction. It's still a very young setting, so I'm not sure it's quite Ten Best caliber yet, but it certainly gets an honourable mention in my book.

  8. Memory: Never read the Flora Segunda stuff, but heard their good.

  9. I agree, Elric creeps me out as well. Also, of what I've read, I don't like how you can tell its a british writer writing it.

  10. Caine: British writing has a tendency to be quite distinct. It's not so bad, but maybe you see Moorcock's work as too obvious for its own good. I'll have to read it.