An Impossible Vacation

An Impossible Vacation

Since we decided to come to England, my husband and I have been talking about travel. There’s a lot to see in England, after all, and it’s much cheaper to see the rest of Europe from here than it is to travel from Canada. All the talk of places and events we’d like to see got me thinking of all the fantastical places in books, movies and games I’d like to visit. Of course, unless someone invents a holodeck in my time, it’s never going to happen, but it’s still a fun exercise. If I could take the ultimate vacation to any fictional universe, here are the places I’d choose.

5. Milliways
Why not start my impossible vacation with… the impossible? If you’ve done six impossible things this morning, why not round it off with breakfast at Milliways, the Restaurant at the End of the Universe?

My favorite creation of the late Douglas Adams for his Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series, Milliways is a restaurant that exists within a time bubble on an eventually-ruined planet. Every night, the restaurant in its bubble is projected to the precise moment of the end of the universe. Thus, dinners can watch the whole of creation explode around them while they eat. That’s reason enough to visit, but the benefits don’t end there! While you watch the whole of creation explode, you can chat with visitors from every location and every time within the universe. Just think of all the amazing races you could meet, cultures you could experience, and stories you could hear! As an added bonus, a single penny deposited in our time would be enough to cover the price of an entire meal by the time I reached the restaurant. Where else can you dine for a penny? To round it all off, the terminal moment is followed by dessert. Fantastic!

4. Pern
Pern (which stands for Parallel Earth; Resources Negligible) is a planet of great beauty and peril. It’s erratic neighbor (known to inhabitants as the Red Star) has a habit of dragging alien organisms from the nearby Oort Cloud into the planet’s atmosphere. These organisms fall to the ground in the form of deadly ‘Threads.’ Thread devours any living organism it touches, from people to plants. Given the nature of the Planet’s cycle, which includes alternating centuries of Threadfall and safety, you’re probably wondering why I’d like to visit.

Timing is everything; I’d prefer to visit Pern during an Interval (during which no Thread falls). However, it’s the colonists’ plan for dealing with the deadly Thread that draws my interest. Pern is naturally inhabited by tiny dragon creatures (known as fire lizards), capable of producing flame if they chew a specific type of planetary rock (known as Firestone). Seeing this, the original colonists used genetic engineering to create larger versions of the creatures, known as dragons, which humans can ride. These telepathic dragons work as a team with their riders to sear Thread as it falls, thus protecting the ground and people below.

Eventually the inhabitants of Pern lost the technology brought by the planet’s original colonists and created a culture based around the production of dragonriders and the protection of the planet from Threadfall. Dragons and their riders tend to live in Weyrs, the hollowed out basins of extinct volcanoes, exactly the places I’d like to visit. The connections between dragons and their riders is described as intimate; they communicate telepathically. Dragons tend to suicide when their riders die, rather than live without them. The process of joining a dragon to their rider is known as Impression, and happens the moment a dragon is born.

I’m sure I’ve mentioned my love of dragons before. If I were to visit Pern, I’d want to Impress a dragon. And ride said dragon to all the other destinations on my list (did I mention dragons can travel “between” which allows them to teleport to any location their rider can imagine? Including other planets!).

3. Atlantis
Atlantis was a mythical city first written about by Plato. In a single day and night of misfortune, Atlantis sank into the sea. Any of the mythical versions of Altantis described throughout the years would be interesting to visit, but my favorite iteration is the Lost City of the Ancients (aka Atlantis) from the Stargate universe. The second series, Stargate Atlantis centers around the discovery of the lost city of Atlantis. As the team explores the city, they learn more about the race who built it, their triumphs and their struggles.

Atlantis appeals to just about every one of my interests. For one, there’s the history of the city, a history lost when the ancients abandoned it and returned to Earth. Then there’s the technology left behind, a technology far more advanced than our own. Then there’s the city itself, huge, beautiful, just waiting to be mapped! And if ever one did manage to get bored of the city, there’s the Stargate which opens on a whole galaxy worth of planets to explore.

On the downside, the Pegasus galaxy IS inhabited by the Wraith, a race of vampire-like aliens who drove the ancients back to Earth (leaving Atlantis abandoned in the first place), which would make galaxy exploration distinctly less enjoyable.

2. Lothlórien
From the halls of a vastly technological city, to the most beautiful forest ever to grow. I love of fantasy novels because the world itself tends to become a character in epic fantasy. The land takes on a wild tinge and civilization tends to have to live with it, and sometimes in fear of its power, rather than taming it. I’d probably love to visit every place described in the Lord of the Rings series, including those in The Silmarillion (but discluding, of course Mordor). The one that stands out to me most, however, is Lothlórien. I’m not going to imagine I could describe the forest better than Tolkien himself, so here’s a quote from Legolas:

“That is the fairest of all the dwellings of my people. There are no trees like the trees of that land. For in the autumn their leaves fall not, but turn to gold. Not till the spring and the new green opens do they fall, and then the boughs are laden with yellow flowers; and the floor of the wood is golden, and golden is the roof, and its pillars are of silver, for the bark of the trees is smooth and grey.”

What sane person could not want to see something that beautiful? Not only that, it features an elven city built in and around the beautiful trees. Galadriel enhanced the forest with the magic of her ring, which is why the forest faded from its glory when the elves returned to the undying lands; the destruction of the One Ring drained the power from all the other rings.

I sang of leaves, of leaves of gold, and leaves of gold there grew:
Of wind I sang, a wind there came and in the branches blew.
Beyond the Sun, beyond the Moon, the foam was on the Sea,
And by the strand of Ilmarin there grew a golden Tree.
Beneath the stars of Ever-eve in Eldamar it shown
In Eldamar beside the walls of Elven Tirion
There long the golden leaves have grown upon the branching years,
While here beyond the Sundering Seas now fall the Elven-tears
O Lorien! The Winter comes, the bare and leafless Day;
The leaves are falling in the stream, the River flows away.
O Lorien! Too long I have dwelt upon this Hither shore
And in a fading crown have twined the golden elanor.
But if of ships I now should sing, what ship would come to me,
What ship would bear me ever back across so wide a Sea?

1. Fantastica
Fantastica is the land of stories, described in the book The Neverending Story by Michael Ende. If I could only choose one destination on my list, it would be this one. Because it could, in theory, contain all the others. Fantastica is populated by creatures conjured from the imagination of humans and, according to the oldest creatures of the realm, without borders. The world is nourished by the visits of humans, and weakened when humans cease to frequent the realm. It can, however, be reborn from a single visit.

While humans travel Fantastica, they have the power to make things happen. Bastian, the book’s protagonist, conjures forests, cities, libraries, swords and creatures to life by sheer force of imagination. Anything one has the power to dream comes to life in this magical world. One can see the endless appeal.

But it isn’t without drawbacks. While Fantasticans are free to live life as they choose, humans have to be careful about their creative power (it isn’t limitless). Instead they have to traverse the path of their wishes back to their own world.

‘What do you suppose it means? Do what you wish. That must mean I can do anything I feel like. Don’t you think so?’
‘No. It means that you must do what you really and truly want. And nothing is more difficult.’
‘What I really and truly want? What do you mean by that?’
‘It is your own deepest secret and you yourself don’t know it.’
‘How can I find out?’
‘By going the way of your wishes, from one to another, from first to last. It will take you to what you really and truly want.’
‘That doesn’t sound so hard.’
‘It is the most dangerous of all journeys… It requires the greatest honesty and vigilance, because there’s no other journey on which it’s so easy to lose yourself forever.’

Those that don’t manage to find the way get trapped in the city of old emperors. Even those that do find the path must be weary; before the guardian will let a human leave, they must first complete all the stories they began within Fantastica (or send a representative in their place, as Bastian did). Those who are successful, however, are allowed to drink from the fountain of the Water of Life, which grants wisdom and joy unparalleled. One cannot drink from the fountain without bringing some of the water back to our world, to share and enrich the lives of others.

However perilous, it sounds like a worthwhile journey to me.

3 Replies to “An Impossible Vacation”

  1. Oh, love. You’re making me pine for all of those books again. Do you think I could get through them all tonight? Hmm…. *sigh* (That one’s dreamy, if you couldn’t tell. ;) )

    1. LOL, when I first saw this comment it shortened it and all I saw was “do you think I could get through them all…” XD I was going to say “I don’t see why not, you got through them all the first time!” But I guess it would be a lofty goal for one night ;) Especially with kids to tend in the morning.

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