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Rating fantasy worlds
Bar Harbor
My friend Eidan passed along this meme/game on Facebook:
"You find yourself in front of seven identical doors. A voice from above tells you: "These seven doors lead to seven places: Narnia, Neverland, Wonderland, Hogwarts, Camelot, Middle Earth, and Westeros." Which door do you go through? Why that door? What happens?"

As Eidan points out, exactly where and when you end up makes a big difference, as well as your social status.

I'll start by rating each choice on the following qualities on a scale of 0 to 10:
* Tech level. I *like* living in the 21st century, and even going back to the 20th would be a big hardship for me at this point. OTOH, magic can often make for a higher *effective* tech level.
* Awesomeness potential. What wonders am I likely to experience?
* Horror potential. How likely am I to experience something awful? How awful do things get?
* Governance and civil liberties. How likely am I to be able to do what I want?
* Chance of returning. If it doesn't work out, can I come home?

I'll also add (and score) a few other possibilities in the comments.

* Tech level: Dark ages. 2.
* Awesomeness: Talking animals are cool, but they're just as likely to be jerks as anyone else. Magic exists, but usually not very flashy, or widespread. 3.
* Horror: God exists, but allows significant amounts of cruelty and evil to flourish. 4.
* Governance: Monarchy. 3.
* Chance of returning: High, but only to a universe that still is ruled by the same God, which you'll note I list under Horror. 4.

Total: 16 points

(I haven't read these in decades, so I may well be misremembering some of this.)
* Tech level: varied, but averaging about 18th century. 5.
* Awesomeness: Flying is super-awesome, but I don't recall anything else close. 6.
* Horror: There are pirates and man-eating crocodiles. 5.
* Governance: You could call it a libertarian paradise, but in practice, each tribal group seems to be dominated by an alpha male who rules by force. 1.
* Chance of returning: Moderate. 5.

Total: 22 points

Edited at 2013-01-13 06:22 pm (UTC)

* Tech level: Contemporary. 10.
* Awesomeness: Strange sights around every corner. 7.
* Horror: Some of those sights are pretty scary, but nothing too bad ever seems to actually *happen*. On the other hand, the lack of causality is extremely disturbing. 5.
* Governance: Theoretically a monarchy, but their actual power seems strongly limited by causality issues. 7.
* Chance of returning. All known visits ended with the traveler not only returning, but returning thinking the experience was probably just a dream. 10.

Total: 39 points

Why would you think this is Contemporary tech level? It was written 150 years ago, and even then was a bit archaic in its depiction - the various soldier cards don't have guns, for instance.

Let's actually make this "Magical Britain"; anything that requires me to back in puberty and/or high school is like -20 points right there. Further, let's assume that we're not a Muggle.
* Tech level: Effectively mid-20th century. 8.
* Awesomeness: High. 9.
* Horror: Sadly, also high. 2.
* Governance: The Wizarding world is run by people who, despite having vast power, have an effective TL that significantly lags Muggles. If you run afoul of their stupid rules, you can end up being in a prison/torture camp for life, with no appeal or hope of parole. 2.
* Chance of returning: Unclear. It doesn't seem like there's anything *stopping* you from joining Muggle society. Call it a 5.

Total: 26 points

Wait a minute. "TL"? All I see in the post that could abbreviate as "TL" is Tech Level.

There are lots of differing portrayals of Camelot, but they share most things that matter to my scoring.
* Tech level: Dark ages. 2.
* Awesomeness: Magic exists, but isn't in common use. 2.
* Horror: Giants and dragons are about. You know Camelot will fall. 3.
* Governance: Enlightened monarchy. 4.
* Chance of returning: Varies. Call it a 5.

Total: 16 points

There is a significant bonus to this if you are a 19th-century machinist.

Middle Earth
* Tech level: varies a *lot*, but averages about Renaissance. 4.
* Awesomeness: There's much cool stuff to see, but separated by *lots* of geography. 4.
* Horror: Death, torture, war, and PTSD are all part of the setting. 2.
* Governance: Varies, but generally enlightened monarchy. Call it a 4.
* Chance of returning: None documented. 0.

Total: 14 points

This is another one where I'd strongly disagree with tech level - _averages_ the Renaissance? I can't think of a single aspect of their tech that matches anything but the earliest end of that, and I wouldn't think anything meets the latter half of that - and certainly not 'half the setting is past that'.

Medieval, definitely. I think that there's an argument that the best places in the setting might start approaching beyond that - the hobbit dwellings are probably decorated in a renaissance level style, but that's about the high point of what we see - and that's got to be significantly pulled down by not just Mordor but even places like Rohan are below that (nice castle, but the people live in steppe huts.)

I haven't read (or watched) *any* of this, but cultural osmosis allows me to make some guesses
* Tech level: Medieval. 3.
* Awesomeness: Low. 3.
* Horror: Lots of warfare, rape, and tragedy. 2.
* Governance: Many competing monarchies, in near-constant warfare. 2.
* Chance of returning: None documented. 0.

Total: 13 points

Don't forget the massive amounts of on-screen torture!


Rational!Hogwarts (HPMoR version of the Wizarding World, in 2013).
Although this isn't complete yet, I can make some guesses about which way it's going, and how I might like the ensuing world.
* Tech level: Post-singularity. 10.
* Awesomeness: Very high. 10.
* Horror: Uncertain, but probably improved. The universe remains cold and uncaring, but our ability to personally change that is high. 6.
* Governance: Could be a Rational!Harry dictatorship, or he might have managed some sort fo more functional representative government. Call it a 7.
* Chance of returning. Rational!Harry will nt reshape the Muggle word as much as, if not more than, the Wizarding world. Effectively 0.

Total: 33 points

Is everyone reading this fanfic? Glad you included it.

Going by the L. Frank Baum novels, and assuming that you arrive some time after the first few books.
* Tech level: Contemporary. Engineering lags slightly, but is compensated by magic, especially in health care. 9.
* Awesomeness: Very high. 10.
* Horror: Low. Warfare is uncommon, and death is abolished. 8.
* Governance: Enlightened dictatorship, although there are indications that it is slowly moving to a slightly more representative model. 4.
* Chance of returning: Very high. 9.

Total: 40 points

United States in 2013
Tech level: Pretty damn good. 9.
Awesomeness: Pretty damn good. 9.
Horror: While the extremes of horror available are *very* extreme, the odds of individually running into those outliers is low and shrinking. 5.
Governance: Unstable democracy. Lots of flaws, but most results don't suck. 5.
Chance of escaping to some other world: Low. VR is still a poor substitute, and uploads remain a dream, but both are things that remain conceivable within our lifetimes. 3.

Total: 31 points

From the given list, I'd probably choose Neverland, even though I've never read/watched the source; the others seem too likely to kill/torture me. (Have a relevant webcomic.)

When I daydream about being in a fantasy world, I usually go to Valdemar or Wheel of Time, even though I stopped reading both series years ago. But I generally give myself some superpowers to help me survive, and sometimes unrestricted ability to jump between there and here.

Thank you, that webcomic is a LOT of fun...

The doors are making me think of the Well of Souls

The Nathan Brazil fan club appreciates people who remember the Well of Souls!

My first consideration is going to be "do women get to make their own decisions there?"

Neverland is probably Right Out, then. Though you might enjoy Jane Yolen's short story "Lost Girls".

For me, ranking them as places to be deposited depends a great deal on how they would treat outsiders and what kind of place they'd be likely to leave you in afterward (assuming you survived).

Hogwarts and Narnia are tops. Appearing at Hogwarts would either leave you with a memory-wipe and returned to your original place or with a position as a Professor of Something (or possibly a ministry job). Narnia is fairly welcoming to newcomers and seems like they'be be happy to settle you somewhere.

The middle ground are: Neverland, Wonderland, & Middle Earth. I think living in Wonderland would drive me batty. Neverland, seems fun but the primitive nature of it would also grate after a while. Middle Earth is the best of this set (if you can avoid the wars), but unless you're settled with the elves or hobbits life seems pretty rough.

Camelot and Westeros are right out. Far too likely to be killed on contact and depressing places to live out my life if I'm not.

So of the list provided, I'd pick Hogwarts (with Narnia as a close 2nd). Missing from that list is the superior choice of Oz which rates higher on friendly to newcomers and a comfortable life to be settled in.

Of course, if I had a pick of fictional worlds to settle in, then I'd head over to "The Place" in Key West (from the Callahan's Universe).

If you happen to be a craft-oriented person, I bet you could have a good time living with Middle Earth dwarves in peacetime.

My rating would depend on Horror Potential more, and being an Asian person, visiting some of those worlds could likely end up a one-way fatal experience.

From the list, I'd got with Hogwarts.

If given the choice of any fictional world, Iain M. Banks' Culture is attractive.


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