Metatalktail Hour: Outside of a Dog August 27, 2022 2:07 AM   Subscribe

Happy Saturday wayfarers! For today's talktail hour, I'd like to ask: If you could escape into a novel — actually be transported into that world — which book would it be, and why?

(Note that you do not become the story's protagonist, you are just living in their universe — an NPC, if you will ... a haberdasher, replicator technician, or barkeep at The Green Dragon, say. The leap also gives you the language, communication, and other skills you need to fit in, if necessary.)

So, where y'at?

Or, just let us know how you are, what's been happening in your life, but no politics please!
posted by taz (staff) to MetaFilter-Related at 2:07 AM (66 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

We had a lovely gathering last night celebrating a friend’s birthday. I managed to surreptitiously get the server’s attention and tell him to put her tab on mine, and she subsequently ordered bottles of Prosecco and apps for the table on top of her dinner and drinks. Ha! Totally worth it though, my friend was super touched and lovey when she realized what happened.

I’m just glad I was able to make it out. I got covid six weeks ago and the post viral fatigue is unbearable some days. Yesterday was okay (I’d call it a C day), but Thursday was a D- at best and I ended up having to leave work early. I know at this point it is hopefully still in the realm of normal but annoying post viral suck, but I’m so terrified I’ll never get my energy level back.

I’ll have to think on the actual discussion prompt! A very interesting question. Of the many books I love, a lot are worlds I, uh, don’t actually want to be in.
posted by obfuscation at 3:59 AM on August 27, 2022 [7 favorites]

Brave New World - as a Gamma probably. Happy with my lot, feeling productive etc.
posted by pompomtom at 5:54 AM on August 27, 2022 [2 favorites]

I would want to escape into one or more of the Louise Penny books that feature character Armand Gamache and set in the small village of Three Pines, Canada. I have escaped into those novels more than once. They are enormously appealing because they are a fantasy about a community of family and friends who pull together in hard times, live within a beautiful landscape, and frequently enjoy delicious food at the local inn or at one of the frequent neighborhood potlucks that describe the meals in loving detail. These are crime novels. People die and the criminals are usually (perhaps always? I cannot recall) brought to justice. The main character is wise, kind, and imperfect. At times, people he loves pay for his mistakes. But that is true in real life as well. I was sad to finish most of the series and may reread some volumes because Three Pines feels warm and welcoming when I am reading.

Thanks for the topic, taz! In real life, I am looking forward to a few days on Gotland, Sweden's largest island. I have never been there but it is supposed to be gorgeous.
posted by Bella Donna at 6:00 AM on August 27, 2022 [7 favorites]

This is a tough one because Chuck Tingle's oeuvre is so vast.
posted by Tehhund at 6:03 AM on August 27, 2022 [39 favorites]

As to life: I've a bastard of a cold, which has cost a bomb in RATs but is apparently not the One True Lurgy. Managed to walk down to the local activity-hub for a banh mi today, which was great. Today was not ball-achingly cold, which is a nice change to the last few weeks. I had said to myself that if there were a non-shitful day before the end of winter I'd sort out a veggie patch in the yard, but that didn't happen because I'm so knackered from said cold.

Brain has felt like sludge for a week, and that week has involved trying to make sense of poorly-commented code that I bloody wrote. I remember writing it and thinking "this is a good solution", and I'm sure that ordinarily the comments would be good enough - but not this week.
posted by pompomtom at 6:03 AM on August 27, 2022 [3 favorites]

I'd go with the Iain Banks' The Culture plz.
posted by lalochezia at 6:07 AM on August 27, 2022 [27 favorites]

I'm eating candied chestnuts in Redwall you better believe it
posted by bleep at 6:49 AM on August 27, 2022 [8 favorites]

Night Circus! I didn't even love the book, but I want to attend that circus more than I've ever wanted to go anywhere.
posted by tangosnail at 7:53 AM on August 27, 2022 [8 favorites]

Northern Lights (His Dark Materials) just to find out what shape my daemon would be. And now that I think about it, what gender my daemon would be.

The kindest thing my sister ever said to me is when she agreed that my daemon would be a wolf. She meant it too!

Then again, when I was a small child I was obsessed with the idea of being a cheetah. I loved the combination of their power, and the visible traces of grief on their faces, the tear-stripes.

So maybe a cheetah.
posted by Zumbador at 8:12 AM on August 27, 2022 [9 favorites]

posted by cooker girl at 8:19 AM on August 27, 2022 [12 favorites]

Wayfarers, you say? Funny thing but I've been immersing myself in Becky Chambers' books for like a year, and the book I would jump into is Record of a Spaceborn Few. I've spent a not-small amount of time daydreaming about my life in the Exodus Fleet, where everybody has a home and nobody goes hungry. And people are pacifists and egalitarians, and it's not exactly Luxury Gay Space Communism, but sort of good-enough Gay Space Communism. And my son, who is autistic and also a kick-ass musician, could be a musician for his work and not have to worry about how to keep a roof over his head. And I could do something, be enough doing something I'm good at, rather than here where I'm de facto unemployable because I spent twenty years out of the workforce as the primary caregiver for my son. (Seriously, despite years of working in offices and going back to school for a MLIS after my son was born, I get complete radio silence when applying for jobs in libraries or offices, and I get polite form rejections when applying to work in places like Trader Joe's or Whole Foods. In This Economy where jobs are supposed to be falling out of the trees for anyone with a pulse.)

Bella Donna, as much as I love Three Pines, I'd feel very uneasy moving there as an NPC, because they do have a rather high murder rate there. Also very cold winters.
posted by Daily Alice at 8:34 AM on August 27, 2022 [12 favorites]

Callahan's Crosstime Saloon. Just one of the regulars.
posted by Splunge at 9:43 AM on August 27, 2022 [4 favorites]

As I remember, Three Pines has a pretty high murder rate even for player characters! It might be worth it, though. Lots of dead people, but my god, the hygge!
posted by taz (staff) at 9:47 AM on August 27, 2022 [6 favorites]

Walden. I'd love to take Henry David Thoreau's place in a tiny cabin, writing, wandering the woods, rowing on the lake, strolling into town for dinner with friends.

I'd be much less inclined to visit my poorer neighbors unannounced to tell them how much better off they'd be if they could just want and need less.

And some of my friends would come with benefits, if you know what I mean.

I did once spend a month at a writing retreat on the north shore of Lake Superior where I had a bedroom in a house and a tiny writing shed in the woods. That writing shed is one of my favorite places ever: a big built-in desk surface, a work chair, and a glider-rocker, a big window over the desk, a screen door, and a very cheeky chipmunk who came to the screen door hoping for treats, which I happened to have because I had smuggled my hamster into the building with me. The closest I ever got to Walden.
posted by Well I never at 9:51 AM on August 27, 2022 [5 favorites]

I wanted desperately to be one of Pippi Longstocking's friends, but I couldn't figure out how I'd be able to without spoiling the perfect dynamic she had with Tommy and Anikka. So I spent my childhood grieving silently because I could not be a fictional Swedish child. Laer I considered being in Heidi so I could hang out in the alps all the time and not have to go to school but decided against it because all they ever ate was bread and cheese. This is a reversal of Pippi thing, but much later I wanted in the worst way to get with Hamlet. Not in the play: I just really wanted Hamlet the Dane to be walking around in the contemporary world all bounded in a nutshell counting himself king of infinite space and we'd run into each other in the stacks or at the grocery store. Hamlet may be miserable and mean, but he is dead sexy. He says cool stuff constantly, he travels the world, he can talk to ghosts, he's good at swordfighting, and he is cruelly doomed in the most romantically irresistible way.
posted by Don Pepino at 9:56 AM on August 27, 2022 [13 favorites]

It's been a month-plus now of newborn haze. I had two days of just me looking after the toddler+ newborn and then I asked my husband to take the rest of the parental leave he is entitled to (we think- baby born just before the new industrial agreement rolled in with 20 days of leave to be taken in the first six weeks- if it turns out we aren't entitled to it he's got other leave). So I'm not looking forward to next week when he goes back again but I'm sure I'll manage. Feeling grateful for the leave, it's a nice improvement on an already good existing conditions.

I'm doing my best to enjoy! Definitely it's a good thing that spring is coming. We are negotiating what kind of garden we are up for this year- we've done corn the last two years down the driveway but need to give the soil a break, I think. I'm hoping that this is the year we finally put in fruit trees. (I'm thinking pear, lime, and as yet to be decided stone fruit.)

On the book- the first thing that popped to mind was the idyllic childhood of the Swallows and Amazons. (Arthur Ransom) but I'm not sure it would be as fun as an NPC, the fun seems to be in the shared imagination of the children.
posted by freethefeet at 9:58 AM on August 27, 2022 [4 favorites]

Oh yes Pippi Longstocking! Another childhood one would be Gordon Korman's I want to go home- witnessing the hijinks. I'd even be ok being an adult in that one I think, though I haven't re-read it from an adult perspective! Maybe at Bruno and Boot's school.
posted by freethefeet at 10:05 AM on August 27, 2022

I'd like to be a haberdasher replicator proprietor. I'd make and sell so many men's shops!
posted by Greg_Ace at 10:16 AM on August 27, 2022 [2 favorites]

Narnia, the Kushiel Universe :D
posted by supermedusa at 10:35 AM on August 27, 2022 [3 favorites]

I want a cottage at the edge of the Enchanted Forest from The Enchanted Forest Chronicles. I would also accept a small cavern, if the dragons could spare me one.
posted by the primroses were over at 10:41 AM on August 27, 2022 [4 favorites]

That Arthur Ransome book sounds very appealing. Disappointed to learn that a "catboat" is a kind of small sailboat and not a sentient part-cat or cat-like or cat-shaped boat, any of which would be ridiculous because cats don't love water...but you woudn't want a dogboat, because they love water too much and would always be chasing things or rolling over, and you wouldn't want a fishboat unless it was a submarine of some kind, and even a sentient duckboat or swanboat would be challenging because the ducks flip upside down to eat and swans can be kind of mean.
posted by Well I never at 10:46 AM on August 27, 2022 [4 favorites]

Mr. Penumbra's 24 hour Bookstore
posted by soelo at 10:51 AM on August 27, 2022 [6 favorites]

I would very much like to go spend a year as an avout in a math in Neal Stephenson’s Anathem.
posted by skycrashesdown at 11:31 AM on August 27, 2022 [8 favorites]

Walden. I'd love to take Henry David Thoreau's place in a tiny cabin, writing, wandering the woods, rowing on the lake, strolling into town for dinner with friends.

I was born just a few miles from there, it's really nice (though kind of hectic nowadays). I'm just wrapping up watching the BBC Scotland show Shetland and I am in love with the landscape of that place (but also seems like a high murder rate, similar to the Three Pines issue) and how it always seem to be vaguely chilly. Internet connectivity seems kind of bad, though. Their library is way bigger than you'd think it would be.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 1:07 PM on August 27, 2022 [4 favorites]

In Edgewood from the book Little, Big by John Crowley. Or with Honey Barbara in the commune in Peter Carey's Bliss.
posted by Stanczyk at 2:29 PM on August 27, 2022 [6 favorites]

I will arise and go now, go to Moominvalley.
posted by MonkeyToes at 3:11 PM on August 27, 2022 [14 favorites]

lalochezia: The Culture"

Ditto. Not a protagonist, not a member of Special Circumstances or Contact, just a regular sophont, living on an orbital somewhere.
And to never have to come back, please.
posted by signal at 3:19 PM on August 27, 2022 [6 favorites]

In Watermelon Sugar. The fictional world there is more of a dreamscape, where things become and unbecome at random, and it seems peaceful, but with intrigue about the remnants of the old world outside its borders.
posted by Devils Rancher at 3:24 PM on August 27, 2022 [2 favorites]

Does a sex change come with the process? If so I'd be a scholar at Shrewsbury College in Gaudy Night, or else an occasional character in Dykes to Watch Out For.
posted by zompist at 3:45 PM on August 27, 2022 [3 favorites]

Aren't we in the Galaxy of the Hitch-Hiker's Guide?

I could run a pub somewhere on the Disc, though I'm not sure I'd want to be in Ankh Morpork.

I'm surprised there's not more people who'd live in The Shire or King's Landing. I'm not even sure that the UBI of Earth in The Expanse. is pictured as being anything other than enabling suffering, but they've got soace travel and terraforming of Mars and polycular families.
posted by k3ninho at 3:46 PM on August 27, 2022 [1 favorite]

I want to live in Discworld, too, but with the caveat that I want one of the good, comfortable lives.
posted by The corpse in the library at 3:56 PM on August 27, 2022 [2 favorites]

The best entire world is probably the one the Moomins live in. But the particular place I most want to be transported to is the one Willa Cather describes in Tom Outland's Story:
The cabin stood in a little grove of piñons, about thirty yards back from the Cruzados river, facing south and sheltered on the north by a low hill. The grama grass grew right up to the door-step, and the rabbits were running about and the grasshoppers hitting the door when we pulled up and looked at the place. There was no litter around, it was as clean as a prairie-dog's house. No outbuildings, except a shed for our horses. The hill-side behind was sandy and covered with tall clumps of deer-horn cactus, but there was nothing but grass to the south, with streaks of bright yellow rabbit-brush. Along the river the cottonwoods and quaking asps had already turned gold. Just across from us, overhanging us, indeed, stood the mesa, a pile of purple rock, all broken out with red sumach and yellow aspens up in the high crevices of the cliffs. From the cabin, night and day, you could hear the river, where it made a bend round the foot of the mesa and churned over the rocks. It was the sort of place a man would like to stay in forever.
I want to live in that cabin and then I want to cross the river and explore the Blue Mesa with its hidden canyons and ancient cliff dwellings and not a single living person, just like Tom Outland did. If I'm not allowed to be the protagonist, I suppose that means I need to get there before him. Maybe I could be the person who built the cabin. (The mesa is the best part of the story, but for maximum enjoyment I need to start out not knowing what's there and gradually exploring and finding out, so I need a home base that isn't on the mesa. I guess I also need to wake up from my magical transport with no memory of having read this story.)
posted by Redstart at 4:29 PM on August 27, 2022 [1 favorite]

The Culture is an obvious good choice. I’d probably even dig being a Contact agent, but getting four hundred years to just try things out would be really great.

Maybe something talking animals would be nice, like Mouse Guard or Larry MacDougall’s Gwelf.

As fascinating as Bas-Lag would be to see, I would definitely not want to spend any great amount of time there, because it’s too bleak.
posted by Mister Moofoo at 6:12 PM on August 27, 2022 [2 favorites]

It depends, if I am living there as I am now with all my health issues and disabilities, I would probably pick a non-dystopian future book, like one of the Becky Chambers books or Preservation Station from the Murderbot books, in the hope that their superior medical technology might be able to at least treat my current ailments if not fix them. A friend of mine always says I need Culture technology, but I couldn't get into the books to know if he's right.

It gets more complicated if I'm a character consistent with those depicted in the book. But many writers don't depict disability in their books, so it's hard to know whether I'd still be stuck with mine.

I was going to say I'd like to be a tourist in many books without living there permanently, but fortunately all I have to do there is read (or re-read) the book.
posted by Athanassiel at 9:05 PM on August 27, 2022 [1 favorite]

Yeah, it's really hard to pick anything besides the Culture. Complete security from having to worry about health, food, shelter, etc. And the ability to travel and see the galaxy on top of that...

If I had to pick something a little more plausible--still staggeringly improbable, but at least plausible in the "doesn't violate the laws of physics" sense--then I guess I'd go with Kim Stanley Robinson's Pacific Edge.
posted by equalpants at 9:31 PM on August 27, 2022 [2 favorites]

I got married a couple of weeks ago!

My now husband and I have been together like 12 years, so we figured it was about time (we're both very risk averse people!) So we traveled to Denmark, where my dad is a vicar, sand the rest of my giant family is, and got married, hosted my giant family for a big old party with an incredible amount of good drink and even better food, and then took the few close friends we'd invited from the UK over to a little cottage on a tiny island in a fjord to join us for our honeymoon. (We'd been together over a decade already, we didn't need an opportunity to go travelling alone, we had the rare opportunity of having a bunch of our friends in Denmark though, so that's what we took advantage of.)

We caught the heatwave, which was kind of perfect. We sat in the garden, we played lawn games, we swam in the fjord (first time swimming in like a decade for me!) and just are and drank incredibly well, while having the most wonderful, relaxing time.

Anyway, we've been back to something of a normality for a week now, and I still feel kinda giddy.
posted by Dysk at 11:40 PM on August 27, 2022 [47 favorites]

seconds for culture, anathem. walden, idyllic as it may be, sounds like a lot of work using skills i neither have nor even imagine. some of stross' worlds seem pretty interesting and tolerable-to-delightful before unthinkable troubles happen. i think the risk of living in squalor and subject to ineffable forces is too great in diskworld. some of the intimate moments, rubbing hands in the sperm tubs, say, in moby dick seem quite nice, or pip's transcendental solitude alone in the middle of the sea. wouldn't hate residing in parts of the dreaming, maybe. maybe, at a very adventurous extreme, butler's xenogenesis world. the worlds at the end of robinson's ministry for the future and stephenson's seven eves seemed nice. who wouldn't want flynks?

anyway i came to talk about my peppers. had bad luck with late-germinating jalapenos last year and tried to follow youtube gardeners' advice on cutting back to sticks and potting to overwinter indoors with lights. one died immediately, the other two survived some months before each flowered and died in sequence; none made it to post-frost spring.

no hoarded prior-years' seeds germinated in the late winter pots -- nor the tomatoes, until some weeks after being discarded as extra dirt into an idle pot, whereupon tomatoes proliferated -- this spring, but received a turkish hot pepper seed kit -- soak these seeds in volume of water until they sink and pour out on dirt in can -- which also took a while to germinate. once they did, though, there were a lot of little fragile seedlings, five of the most vibrant of which survived transplantation into the garden and of which in turn four thrive.

my turkish is rudimentary at best, but sufficient (augmented by internet tools) to see that the species or variety or cultivar is not identified on the packaging. some internetting has not positively identified them among hot peppers traditionally used in turkish cuisine or as anything else. those traditional turkish peppers i can find (searching in english) appear to be larger and generally described as milder than my impression of the present peppers.

they're super hot, closely approximating my habanero and scotch bonnet experience in terms of taste and triggering hiccough reflex, but probably not quite as hot. by that description some c. chinenses variety called fatalii, including the reapers and bonnets and lanterns and the like, seems plausible but these don't look anything like those.

mine grow upright on the plant developing from yellow through orange to a bright red (so far; i suppose there could be later stages), appearing to me to be of a thai or some "NuMex" ornamental variety. available descriptions of those don't seem to suggest the scoville unit payload these are giving me.

anyway, they're too hot for me to eat unmolested. so i followed a hot sauce recipe thoroughburro posted a couple weeks ago in a free thread on blue (except skipped a step in the math on the proportions and wound up with too much salt) and it is very good! it will be even better next time as i a) get the salt math right and b) maybe add garlic and lemon and a dash of olive oil. it was not as too-much-work as my first foray into mortar & pestle pesto earlier this summer (a delicious success but for the effort/product ratio), but still quite a lot of time scraping seeds out of halved peppers; quite a bit of residual tender sting in the cuticles of fingernails notwithstanding many a soapy scrub.

maybe should also learn to pickle.
posted by 20 year lurk at 11:47 PM on August 27, 2022 [3 favorites]

maybe should also learn to pickle.

Can recommend pickling chillies! We did it with our haul a couple of times a few years ago, and they were fantastic. It's really not hard either, absolutely loads of recipes out there that all basically amount to vinegar, some water, a bit of sugar, and a bunch of spices maybe - it's hard to go too far wrong. The first year, we had a half-full jar that we needed to fill to seal, so we threw carrots in to make up the room. The following year, we had carrots in every jar with the chillies. They don't add a lot to everything else, but everything else adds a lot to them. Chilli pickled carrot turns out to be amazing.
posted by Dysk at 11:59 PM on August 27, 2022 [3 favorites]

The Girl Who Owned a City - Lisa’s plan is perfect and communal until an evil person needs to take control.
posted by bendy at 1:24 AM on August 28, 2022 [1 favorite]

Congratulations Dysk!
posted by Thella at 1:48 AM on August 28, 2022 [1 favorite]

Yeah, it's really hard to pick anything besides the Culture. Complete security from having to worry about health, food, shelter, etc. And the ability to travel and see the galaxy on top of that...

One more vote for that, drug glands and all the free time you want, sign me up.

For the exploration fun I would go for Riverworld. Meet anyone who ever lived? Every language and people and culture mishmashed and chillin, basic needs covered and semi-immortal? Sounds fun.
posted by Meatbomb at 3:24 AM on August 28, 2022 [3 favorites]

I think I’ve landed on “the space between worlds.” It probably wouldn’t exactly be pleasant but it would be very neat to be a fly on the wall exploring hundreds of alternate universes with the same characters living out (or not) very different lives.
posted by obfuscation at 4:34 AM on August 28, 2022 [2 favorites]

My biggest reading diet these days is a collection of post-apocalyptic fiction, so I probably shouldn't answer this question. ....Although, sometimes I contemplate being one of the Last People Standing in Boulder after The Stand, and while Stu Redman and the rest were figuring out how to go to Vegas to confront Randall Flagg I'd be across town starting a sort of artists' commune and taking over the local radio station.

....Two straight weeks of terrible heat have finally broken and I'm getting more inclined to do stuff, thank God. I have been invited to be part of the leadership committee for the community garden, which so far has already brought a bit of trouble (in the form of a very opinionated other member who was ALSO invited to join the leadership committee, but she seems to prefer letting other people do it so she can continue to complain to them that they're doing it wrong, bah).

Yesterday I was able to indulge three of my current passion projects all in one day:

* I'm in this monthly photo meetup group started by this really sweet photographer in Brooklyn. Every month he picks a different part of the city and we all meet up there, walking around and taking pictures of whatever looks cool. He's very welcoming to people at all skill levels, and is really good at encouraging newbies.

* We were shooting in the Flatiron District today - and there's a scoop shop for Ample Hills nearby. I'm a big fan of Ample Hills ice cream - which is good, since this summer they're having a sort of scavenger hunt contest; you pick up one of their lists, and you have until September 30th to check off everything on it. If you complete the list you get a logo tumbler, and that tumbler will entitle you to 25% off any future drink orders in their shops. ....For me, it's just an excuse to eat ice cream more than anything ("Oh, hey, let me head to the neighborhood early and hit up a couple scoops").

* And while I was walking from the Ample Hills shop to the site of the meetup, I passed a store that sold used CDs - and used DVDs. And the bargain bin out front had three DVDs for films I need for my blog. I grabbed them, hopped in, paid for them, and was back on my way. And then, while heading home after, I passed a stoop on my block where someone had set out a bunch of "free, please take" things - and amid the cluster of DVDs in the box were two more DVDs I could use.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:23 AM on August 28, 2022 [4 favorites]

Oh. Time City for me, please. The access to knowledge, the technology, the opportunities for travel and exploration throughout the whole sweep of human history, the Forty-two Century butter-pies... sign me up.
posted by ManyLeggedCreature at 7:01 AM on August 28, 2022 [4 favorites]

Dysk!! That’s wonderful news! Congratulations!
posted by MonkeyToes at 8:05 AM on August 28, 2022 [2 favorites]

I thought people were congratulating Dysk on the pickled-carrot discovery, but getting married is cool, too, I guess.
posted by Well I never at 8:50 AM on August 28, 2022 [8 favorites]

All these mentions of The Culture have me intrigued. Which book should I start with?
posted by The corpse in the library at 9:08 AM on August 28, 2022

> I thought people were congratulating Dysk on the pickled-carrot discovery, but getting married is cool, too, I guess

¿Por qué no los dos?
posted by The corpse in the library at 9:09 AM on August 28, 2022 [5 favorites]

thanks, Dysk. will throw in some carrots too. also congratulations.
posted by 20 year lurk at 9:50 AM on August 28, 2022 [2 favorites]

yay Dysk!! married carrots are best carrots.

I had an immediate impulse to answer "The Expanse" idk's mostly not good for everyone...?
posted by supermedusa at 9:55 AM on August 28, 2022 [4 favorites]

The corpse in the library: All these mentions of The Culture have me intrigued. Which book should I start with?
Consider Phlebas is the first in the timeline and explains a lot of concepts, Player of Games illustrates Culture social worldbuilding, Matter has two characters in a pickle, Excession has a macguffin that breaks their cosmos, and Hydrogen Sonata illustrates the oddity of what you can do with a setting like The Culture. Standout non-Culture Banks sci-fi also include Against a Dark Background and Feersum Enjin
posted by k3ninho at 11:31 AM on August 28, 2022 [3 favorites]

Call Me By Your Name. Book or movie, honestly.

JL Carr’s Month in the Country feels like it would do wonders to lower my stess levels.

There are plenty of books I wouldn’t mind passing through so long as I wasn’t a main character—Tender Is The Night, comes to mind. Dawn Powell’s characters have some great parties. As do Nancy Mitford’s.

If you could arrive in thr setting of any Ripley novel after Ripley has left town, you’d probaly have a lovely (and reasonably safe) time.
posted by thivaia at 11:39 AM on August 28, 2022 [6 favorites]

This is a great prompt!

A lot of the worlds I know best are ones I encountered as a child. Narnia is tempting (talking animals! time dilation!) but an adult’s-eye view of how Susan Pevensie was treated makes it a little less appealing. The world of the Old Ones is too frightening from the standpoint of the mere mortal I would certainly be. The earth as seen through Meg Murry’s eyes might be good. Same complex place I know, but with other worlds within reach. You can be a human woman in that world and survive.

Among worlds I encountered in adulthood, England in the age of Strange and Norrell might be delightful, as I could hope for a mezzanine seat for its wonders instead of one in the front row. Last night I was talking to a dear friend who made the amusing claim (maybe they are not the first) that from the perspective of other animals, we are Fae. We mess with natural constants like the cycles of hot/cold and light/dark, we offer food that ruins you for your normal fare, and when we take an interest in you sometimes we save your life through strange magic and other times we kill you for sport. Anyway because of this charming conversation I have been mentally reliving the evenings I spent in that wonderful book, which taught me everything I know about Faerie.

The book worlds I have newly encountered in the last few years would be unsuitable — but oh how I wish I could meet Justice of Toren.

Right now my bedtime reading is a reread of Masha Gessen’s The Man Without A Face, and well, we pretty much do live in that world (but like the mod said, NPPATY…).
posted by eirias at 1:40 PM on August 28, 2022 [4 favorites]

The Culture is hard to beat but I think I might be pretty happy in T. Kingfisher's Swordheart world. Or, I could be a Raksura, that would be pretty awesome, or, or, or Ile-Rien! And Moomin Valley forever, yes. I am up for anywhere that magic (or sufficiently advanced science, I'm not picky) works and capitalism doesn't have a stranglehold on my life. I just want to putter around, making pickles, making art, wandering around with the dog and not ever have to go to work. I would love to be puttering around in a cottage full of herbs and magical objects - I could go for living in a Dianna Wynn Jones book actually - and mixing up friendly potions for those who need them.

I don't want to be constantly deluged with corpses so that puts a lot of my current reading completely out of the question. Nor am I interested in fighting all the time, so, goodbye a huge chunk of F /SF .

Honestly if I could just be independently wealthy I'd stay right where I am and mix up friendly potions all day long.
posted by mygothlaundry at 2:01 PM on August 28, 2022 [3 favorites]

I love good novels and would like to hang out with characters from Laurie Colwin, Margaret Drabble and other intelligent writers. My daemon could have been any one of the the dogs who have blessed my life, or a white rat, or ?. What fun to ponder.

But, yeah, the Culture, because freedom to learn, do art, explore. What incredible luxury that would be. I mean, I have some of that freedom, and here I am, on the web, as usual.

I'd like to be part of the magical worlds of Charles deLint.
posted by theora55 at 7:36 PM on August 28, 2022 [2 favorites]

I'm tempted to say one of Elif Batuman's novels, since I lived near Harvard Square in the mid-1990s and could use a do-over on that period of my life. But in a way, I've been living in Batuman's novels for the past two years, since I've been writing an album inspired by The Idiot. (Here's the first single!)

Instead, I'm going to say either one of the more middle-class parts of Discworld or Moominvalley. My life has been too eventful of late.
posted by pxe2000 at 7:46 AM on August 29, 2022 [7 favorites]

For the exploration fun I would go for Riverworld. Meet anyone who ever lived? Every language and people and culture mishmashed and chillin, basic needs covered and semi-immortal? Sounds fun.

I'm with meatbomb. That's the one for me.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 10:38 AM on August 29, 2022 [1 favorite]

pxe2000, your voice is just lovely!
posted by mochapickle at 10:44 AM on August 29, 2022 [2 favorites]

> I had an immediate impulse to answer "The Expanse" idk's mostly not good for everyone...?

I had the same urge to go with something from Star Trek, even though it's a militaristic society.
posted by The corpse in the library at 12:30 PM on August 29, 2022

If I'm not spending my remaining days on the decline in Rivendell, which has always looked nice in the pictures and suits my ennui, sign me up for The Culture. Unless, of course, I qualify for a one way trip to Valinor.
posted by mollweide at 7:53 PM on August 29, 2022

This is a hard one. Does one go for the limitless possibilities of something like The Culture? An Earth with time travel allowing one to know all the great and minor mysteries of the past world? But I think I've got to go with James P. Hogan's planet Chiron orbiting Alpha Centuri from the novel Voyage from Yesteryear. Hogan went off the rails late in his life (or money allowed him to express views he previously repressed) but this novel and the possibilities of it's post scarcity society that wasn't grim dark have enchanted me since my first read back in the mid 80s. I so wanted to live there as a teenager.
posted by Mitheral at 9:31 PM on August 29, 2022

Gosh it would probably be the Avonlea in Anne of Green Gables. Now that I am old, and sad, I long for nothing as much as someplace quiet and beautiful, full of comfort and love and trees and food. And snowy winters with wood stoves. And no light pollution.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 8:16 PM on August 30, 2022 [2 favorites]

I have read at least a few books over the years, some of which I found to describe inspiring worlds and places. All the same, I think I reed too many books where shit has gone horribly wrong and I don't want to be there.
posted by majick at 3:04 PM on September 1, 2022 [1 favorite]

I enjoy fantasy but not the idea of living before anesthesia or antibiotics, so I'd definitely live in a peaceful advanced society of some sort, probably one of the Hainish worlds of LeGuin.
posted by emjaybee at 5:39 PM on September 5, 2022

Ok, it’s not a novel at all, but I’ve been watching a lot of Taskmaster and wondering what it would be like to live in that world. All your neighbors are creative and funny; there’s always another challenge but never any real consequences; it’s a land of plenty where you can ask for anything you want (as long as it’s in service of a task); the despot is strict but loving.

(And now this is reminding me of Animal Crossing. I wonder if anyone has done a Taskmaster parody about - or filmed in - Animal Crossing?)
posted by moonmilk at 7:45 PM on September 5, 2022 [1 favorite]

I'd like to escape into the San Francisco of the novels of William Gibson's Bridge Trilogy.
posted by Rash at 2:01 PM on September 8, 2022

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