The Best and Worst SFF Worlds—According to Our MagicXMayhem Authors - Tor/Forge Blog
MagicXMayhem Feature 77A

The Best and Worst SFF Worlds—According to Our MagicXMayhem Authors

The Best and Worst SFF Worlds—According to Our MagicXMayhem Authors

Some fantasy worlds leave us aching for a passport to another world. Some futures seem worth skipping the present for. Others…not so much. We asked our Magic X Mayhem authors which SFF worlds they would most and least like to try out and—not to sound like a lousy clickbait article—some of their answers might surprise you.

What are the SFF worlds you would most and least like to live in?


Sarah Gailey author of Magic for Liars

Most: The world of Abhorsen by Garth Nix. The magic system is just so COOL. I’d have to learn how to whistle, though.
Least: The world of Harry Potter. We’ve got enough regular fascists, I don’t need wizard fascists too.

Duncan Hamilton, author of Dragonslayer

Most: Westeros, north of the wall. I’ve never seen so much untracked powder…

Tamsyn Muir, author of Gideon the Ninth

Most: Dinétah from Rebecca Roanhorse’s Trail of Lightning so that I could, with sweaty palms and dry mouth, shake Maggie Hoskie’s hand.
Least: Dinétah from Rebecca Roanhorse’s Trail of Lightning, because I am weak and would just be gnawed to death or shot before I ever got to sweatily shake Maggie Hoskie’s hand. I guess I could nod respectfully at her as I died.

Brian Naslund, author of Blood of an Exile

Most: Tamriel, because I’ve spent enough time playing Elder Scrolls games that you can drop me anywhere and two weeks later I’ll be a moderately successful adventurer with a decent house. (Or I’ll have been killed by a mud crab within five minutes, but I’m willing to risk it.)
Least: Mad Max Universe, because I’m very prone to rashes and a desert apocalypse environment seems very rash-inducing, with very few options for treating said rashes. Also, murderous raiders don’t seem like great neighbors.

JY Yang, author of The Ascent to Godhood

Most: Honestly I would love to live a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…. Star Wars was the first thing that truly got me into SFF as a child, I just loved its textures and its sense of fun. The juxtaposition of its high-gloss centers of power and sand-crusted backwaters. I too would like to silence irritants during work meetings with the power of my mind, or tell the fuzz that these are not the droids you are looking for…
Least: The worlds I would least like to live in are all the post-apocalyptic ones. Sure, Fury Road was fun and everything, but would I actually want to LIVE there? Hell no.

Max Gladstone, author of Empress of Forever

Most: Peter F. Hamilton has a knack for making weird, cool, adventurous and above all livable futures—before he takes a sledgehammer to them. The first half of The Reality Dysfunction, and most of Judas Unchained, are essentially Escape Velocity fanfic: sprawling adventurous futures in deep SPAAAACE, rich with secrets and opportunity. Yeah, eventually ghosts and aliens show up, but by the time they do you’re really bought into the future they’re wrecking! Banks’ Culture certainly seems like the most pleasant future on offer, so long as you’re not drowning in feces on a secret mission. Lois McMaster Bujold’s Vorkosiverse would also be a good choice. There are a lot of things to do there.

Least: Most worlds with a destined savior, chosen one, or whatever. Not because I dislike the concept of destiny! But because worlds that turn around a Destined One tend to be pretty uninteresting if you’re not the One. What’s everyone else doing with their time?

S.L. Huang, author of Null Set

Most: Yoon Ha Lee’s Machineries of Empire. It may be a terrible and violent dystopia, but I’d be able to do magic with MATH!
Least: …Yoon Ha Lee’s Machineries of Empire.

Saad Z. Hossain, author of The Gurkha and the Lord of Tuesday

Most: I’d like to live in the Culture universe. Post-scarcity human society, totally utopian, sarcastic machine minds that are almost more human than human, glands that let you experience a plethora of mind-altering states without ill effect, killer drones at your beck and call… it doesn’t get better.
Least: The most horrible is probably Joe Abercrombie’s world. I mean it’s a standard dark fantasy world but the way he gives it to his characters, it’s almost impossible to believe anyone will get out with any shred of dignity, let alone an actual happy ending.

Cate Glass, author of An Illusion of Thieves

Least: Game of Thrones world. Whew. You can’t trust anybody.

Most: Roger Zelazny’s Amber, though only if I was one of the royal family and I could actually travel through Amber’s many reflections, finding one that was just perfect for me.

Andrew Bannister, author of Iron Gods

Least: This is going to seem strange, but the sff world I would least to live in would be anything that resembled Iain M Banks’ Culture. At first sight that must seem strange because who wouldn’t want to live in a utopia like that? No work, no ill health, unlimited leisure – what’s not to like? But Iain knew exactly what he was doing. The only time anything interesting happens in the Culture is as a result of external threat; so much so that the really interesting people join a secretive body called Special Circumstances which practically has the remit of going out to look for trouble. Without that, the people of the Culture are fundamentally unchallenged and bored.

Most: That leaves the question of where I would most like to live. A place where stuff is happening, I think. A place, a civilization in flux, experiencing some challenge. And I fancy somewhere sunny. How about the near-future South Africa of Lauren Beukes’ ‘Zoo City’? My only condition being that I would like to be one of the people with money.


Stay tuned for more #magicXmayhem all summer long!


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