Ever since I was young, I’d have dreams of the USS Enterprise warping into low earth orbit, beaming me up and taking me away for awesome space adventures. The idea of escaping to another world is one of greatest appeals of science fiction and fantasy. Some of us dream of lives filled with action, excitement and wonderment, so these stories not only entertain us but they help us get through what might be an otherwise boring existence.
When you get right down to it though, not every fictional universe is a place you’d want to end up. And we’re talking residency here – a normal joe in an otherwise abnormal world. You’re a Death Star contractor, as Clerks so eloquently put it, trying to just get through the day. So let’s look at a few of these and examine why you might want to consider putting down roots elsewhere.
Have you been to Orlando? If not, you should sometime. It’s the modern mecca of theme park attractions, and if you’re willing to fork out the dough you can buy yourself a decent time. If nothing else, go for the Butterbeer. Hell, most people who live there probably have season passes and can go fuck around at Epcot as much as they want. Sounds great right?
Well, sure. But you probably don’t live there, so imagine that. The town is literally infested with tourist traps and out-of-towners who don’t know where they’re going. Granted, the economy is steadily fueled by overpriced gift shops and foot tall margaritas, but if you’re just trying to make a living and don’t want to be a tea cup ride operator it must be difficult.
So now that we have that description out of the way, picture this: Orlando, but instead of themes parks it’s just people banging. Everywhere. That’s Risa. You want to get in the action? Just grab yourself a Horga’hn. It’s basically a big sign that says “I’m totally DTF”. Sounds amazing doesn’t it? Perfect weather, endless booze, and attractive people that just want to please you.
Well, it is until you look behind the curtain. Risa’s working class, beyond the sex workers and bartenders, likely consists of clean-up crews and custodial staff. Sure, it’s a living, and there are far worse places to be in the galaxy, but still. These poor souls are responsible for making sure every bed, chair, table, monument, bar, and gold-pressed latinum kiosk is wiped down and free of germs. Because let’s be frank – on Risa, people have sex everywhere and on anything. A perpetual planet-wide orgy. It’s just what they do.
Well, unless you’re Georgi LaForge. He just went there to read a book.
3. Gotham City
Batman. The Dark Knight. The World’s Greatest Dectetive. He’s an icon of vigilante justice, taking the law into his own hands while still adhering to a strict moral code. You can go about your day knowing that he’s lurking in the shadows, wrapping the city of Gotham under the protection of his fancy cape.
And yet, in spite of this, Gotham is still completely overrun with the mafia and gangs. Not just that, but most of these gangs serve super villains and as a result there are nearly weekly hostage situations. Your odds, as a resident of the city, of being taken hostage and strapped to a bomb? 1:100 or so. Sure, sometimes Batman comes and saves your ass, but sometimes he doesn’t give a shit. He’s got more important things to do like save an entire city.
But you can live with those odds right? I mean, risk is a fact of life. Well, imagine you’re an independent auto insurance agent. Normally, you’d help cover people from occasional fender-bender and random acts of God. But, in order to stay a competitive with the larger companies, you need to offer Premium Batcare Protection. You see, if you have a car and park it anywhere in Gotham, sooner or later Batman is going to run over it or blow it up. Sure, he’s chasing criminals and trying to do good, but you can only raise those premiums so high before people look elsewhere. So in the end, the astronomical cost to you is one that would make Flo hang herself.
The worst part though about living in Gotham though? These assholes are all sent to Arkham – a poorly-managed, underfunded facility that offers absolutely no psychiatric help to it’s sociopaths and has near-daily breakouts. For all his heroism Batman refuses to kill, and thus the endless cycle of the foiled maniacal plan, incarceration, and breakout continues. You’d think after all this time they’d at least ship them off the super-max prison, or some secluded island where they couldn’t hurt anyone. Frankly, it would be best in the long run if he just shot them all in the head.
So you’re a hard-working blacksmith in the town of Markarth. You have two kids you couldn’t be more proud of, and earn a decent living peddling your wares. Every day you get to work outside and meet new people – sometimes even cat people. Life is good.
After a long day of incessantly banging on the same piece of metal, the sun sets and you return to your hearth and home. You read your children a bedtime story from volume 2 of the Mystery of Talara and tuck them into bed. You settle down and the sound of chirping crickets lulls you to sleep.
Then, in the middle of the night, you awake to the sound of rusting. A tall, dark, figure is moving swiftly through your home. As your eyes adjust to the dim light, you can make out a man wearing intricate armor that appears to be hewn from the fires of Oblivion. He’s opening cabinets, dressers, and chests – stuffing everything he can into a seemingly infinite pocket. Even your apples.
Clearly, you’re being robbed.
Bravely and confidently, you warn the intruder to leave. He ignores you. Again, you warn him, this time stating that you’re going to call the guards. He continues rifling through your things, and then suddenly turns around and sets you on fire. You crumple to the ground as the smell of your own burning flesh overtakes your senses. The pain is unimaginable.
Fearing for your children, the intruder seems to ignore them and walks over to you. He then proceeds to squat, up and down, on your face as you slowly take your last breath.
Welcome to Skyrim.
Let’s be perfectly honest with each other – no one wants to live in George R.R. Martin’s fantasy universe. Fact of the matter is, despite the magnificently sprawling kingdoms, the rich history, and the potential for conquest and glory, you’re going to be murdered. Horribly. It’s going to be something like torture, immolation, backstabbing, throat-slitting, a crazy-ass shadow monster, or a fucking dragon that decides to eat you. And it doesn’t matter if you’re a highfalutin lord or a lowly serf who literally shovels shit for a living. You’re destined to an unfair fate and no praying to the Great Bearded One will save you.
But death aside, let’s talk about what else can happen, because odds are you’re going to be fucked no matter what you do. Did your father have sex with your mother while he was married to someone else? You’re a bastard. You’ll be shunned the rest of your life, given a surname you can’t get rid of and generally be considered a walking travesty. Born with a physical ailment or handicap? Your royal parents are probably going to toss you off a cliff or strangle you in your crib.
Did you try to provide for your family by stealing a small piece of bread? Guess what, you’re going to the Night’s Watch. Forever. You’ll never see your family again, and you sure as shit never touching a woman for the rest of your life. Maybe you manage to scrape by as a prostitute in Lord Balish’s whorehouse? The kinky sex fantasies of the clientele will drive you clinically insane.
Oh, did I mention zombies? And not The Walking Dead kind. They’re cold (literally), calculating, and will fuck your day up.
Just stay away from Westeros. Far, far away.
Honorable Mention: Alderaan
So what fictional world would you avoiding residing in?