Sometimes we all just need another world to escape into ….
I have put together a few of my favourite, but less known worlds to escape to. This is a mixture of film, television, games and books and will be in several parts. In this time when a lot of people are spending more time at home than they are used to I thought a few suggestions may be useful. Some of these suggestions I am considering writing full articles on in the future. Onto my first suggestion
The Book of the New Sun – Gene Wolfe
This is one of those cases where Fantasy and Science Fiction cross. I read these books on release in the 1980’s, they are a set of 4 novels set in a distant future when the sun has dimmed and the earth is cooler. It follows the first person Narrative of Severian, a Journeyman Torturer who is disgraced and exiled for showing compassion to one of the condemned. The story is his travels and interactions as he continues his trade. The narrator at many times can seem unreliable and the story develops in a highly original way. Gene Wolfe writes dense and interesting prose that can take a little while to get into, it is worth the effort, what makes the writing style more interesting is the story is written as if someone is translating it from another language and feels like it includes any mistakes within that translation. The world is so well thought out and populated and once you immerse yourself they are rewarding to read. A highly recommended read if you want something a bit different that is a cut above a Lord of the Rings clones, this really is a world you can escape into. If you want to dip your toes into the worlds of Gene Wolfe I recommend trying to find the original release so you can admire the wonderful cover artwork by Bruce Pennington.
The four books that make The Book of the new Sun are The Shadow of the Torturer (1980), The Claw of the Conciliator (1981), The Sword of the Lictor (1982), and The Citadel of the Autarch (1983)
A documentary you say, how can you escape into that? This is not the recent series with Neil DeGrasse-Tyson but the original show with Carl Sagan. You may think that a documentary series is not a world to escape to but it’s a big Universe out there and to Paraphrase Douglas Adams ‘Space is big really big, you may think its a long way down to the shops but that’s just peanuts to space’. Carl Sagan is one of my Science Heroes, I’m not fond of the term hero but I couldn’t think of another word to describe him. In 1980 when the original Cosmos TV show hit British Screens, the 12 year old Science Fiction fan that I was just absorbed it. As the music from Vangelis pulled you in and the Camera panned to Carl Sagan standing on a cliff top you knew you were going on an amazing journey. The show managed to visually and Narratively bring the Universe into my living room and my mind. The opening Episode ‘The Shores of the Cosmic Ocean’ had me just with the title. Carl Sagan’s voice is so relaxing and he manages to explain complex and simple ideas without dumbing them down but making them understandable.
I was so enthralled by this program I asked for the book and the soundtrack Album for that Christmas (which I was lucky enough to get). The book is well worth a read and the audio version is on Audible read by the wonderful LeVar Burton. The TV show I have the 2009 DVD release (there was also a blu-ray I think), The set is really well put together and has been re-mastered, and includes several Science updates due to new discoveries in the intervening 40 years. Unfortunately I believe this is now out of print (as of March 2020) but is readily available on ebay.
I hope these two ideas might have given you something to delve into whilst we are in this unprecedented position. In Part 2 we look at one specific place to escape to Mars, keep an eye out for it follow me on Instagram or my Facebook page and they will be updated on all my new articles.