All-Time SF/Fantasy Universes

What are your favorite SF/Fantasy universes? Also, a follow-up question: What makes that universe resonate with you? If you’d like to rank a “Top 5”, that’s great, but tell em WHY they’re so great.

Mine would be:

[li]Gene Wolfe’s Long Sun Universe: It’s almost a dreamlike state, and with Gene’s naming conventions, it seems exotic and familiar. My single favorite SF author.[/li][li]Tolkien’s Middle Earth: This will probably be a popular choice. I liked the mythologic feel, and the fact that the entire continent wasn’t involved. There was room to grow in the universe, and a great storyteller.[/li][li]Frank Herbert’s Dune: I loved the bleakness of the early works, and the whole sandworld thing. the huge worms were good, too.[/li][li]Moorcock’s Multiverse. SO varied, and I love the various incarnations as a character device. [/li][/ol]

Tell me yours!

-Cem :slight_smile:

Iain Banks’ Culture. Still the best realized utopia in science fiction.

Roger Zealzny’s Amber universe. I always liked the idea of being able to get anywhere you can imagine simply by walking.

I was going to say both of those!

I’ll add Stephen R Donaldson’s Land. Despite the stupid name, it’s really quite incredible how he develops it. Whether or not you feel sympathy for Covenant himself, it pretty hard to see the Land change so radically over the course of the books and not be affected.

Oh, right, how can you not love the Discworld?

Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Avalon books. Very romantic and I’d like to hang out with the faeries for a while. Not to mention see the standing stones on the Tor, and work some magic of my own.
I also like Tim Powers’ Last Call/Expiration Date/Earthquake weather series. I like the supernatural themes like the ghosts and personifications of the Tarot cards and how he makes it tie in to actual historical events. Its very cool and creepy.

Just to keep up my LOTR geek cred I have to vote for Tolkien’s Middle Earth. It’s so complete, yet there are enough empty spots yet for my imagination to travel in.

Jerry Pournelle’s CoDominium/Empire of Man/War World universe. (; Not necessarily pleasant to live in, and Pournelle’s politics make my Red blood boil; but his conception of an interstellar civilization based mostly on armed force impresses me as very plausible, based on human history to date.

Robert Heinlein’s Future History is more optimistic, but seems kinda dated now.

The world of Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash and Diamond Age seems like a whole lotta fun if you’re smart/tough/quick enough to keep up.

Jack Vance’s Gaean Reach universe is my personal favorite. It includes everything that it should have: clothing, food (including trendy chefs), art, music, literature (and literary criticism), nature preserves, historical landmarks, religion, philosophy, academics, cheesy tourist attractions, and everything else that you expect from a universe.

Ursual LeGuin’s Earthsea has always been one of my favorite. The sense of isolation and beauty is wonderful.

One of my favorite bits in any book is when Ged runs into the raft-people adrift in the south, where he sees constilations that he’d only ever heard about but not seen. The raft-people, who, after spending a year adrift, meet at an island to repair their rafts, at least those who survive a year at sea.

Does porn count as SF? It all seems to be set in this alternate universe where almost all the women are beautiful, almost all the men are well-endowed, nobody has ever heard of STDs, and everybody is as horny as a mink on Viagra.

I’ve always loved the Archipelago of Earthsea, too. I liked the descriptions of Gont and wherever the school was.

The PornWorld? What, your Significant Other is NOT a porn star? Wow.

Funny how that happens, innit? :wink:

I vote Marvel Earth and DCU, personally.

The Discworld, of course. “World and mirror of worlds.” What’s not to like?

John Varley’s Gaea, the crazy Titan. I’ve wanted to vacation there for ages! Actually, any of Varley’s worlds would be lots of fun.

Mercedes Lackey’s Valdemar–it seems so goshdarned scenic…

Discworld, absolutely. Heck, I’d be willing to move permanently–it’s the food, I expect. Onna stick.

Pern, that’s a given.

Discworld, definitely. – best defined, of course, and filled with invention.
Larry Niven’s Known Space – Great aliens, great ideas of planets
Corwainer Smith’s Instrumentality of Mankind – strange and exotic, with a richness that few authors have achieved.

There’s so many I like…

Like tanstaafl said, Amber; the ability to walk to anyplace you can imagine really strikes my sense of wonder.

John D. Chancie’s Castle Perilous multiverse, for much the same reason. Plus magic for everybody !

Discworld, because it’s such an interesting, oddball place, with so much going on.

The 5th Imperium from David Weber; high living standards, long life and moon sized warships - what’s not to like. :slight_smile:

The loosely connected multiverse Simon Green seems to be making, what with all the person place name dropping in his various series; they all seem connected. It’s all violent, dramatic and bigger than life; I wouldn’t want to live there, but reading about it is fun.

I wouldn’t want to live there, what with the dead rising all the time and all, but Garth Nix’s Sabriel world is amazing.

For places to live, Narnia sounds pretty cool, but I really gotta go with the Federation around the time of TNG. Okay, you got yer holosuites and yer food thingies and neat aliens and space travel and the only thing that sucks is the death of baseball and the existence of Wesley Crusher. That’s not a fair trade, but good enough.

Oh drat. I forgot the 80s according to Jasper Fforde’s Tuesday Next books. Again, not to live, but I’d sure like to visit.

Middle Earth of course.
Followed by the Star Trek Universe.
I am kind of partial to Pern in the Period of Rediscovery. I would love to work for Fanderal at the Smith hall and then on to Landing. Perfect blend of Fantasy and Science Fiction.

(You know I just realized I am such a geek, I would rather be a Smith/Scientist then a Dragon Rider :smack: )


More votes for :-
Middle Earth

A mention also goes to The Phoenix Legacy (The Sword of the Lamb, Shadow of the Swan, House of the Wolf) by M K Wren. It has always struck me as a kind of precursor to the Dune world.

Damn, those are the ones I was going to nominate. I gotta say, though, the Culture series stands out because Banks is the first guy since fucking ASIMOV to have the rocks to think seriously about how wealthy a successful interstellar civilization might be. I give Banks full cred for thinking things through, but other SF writers have been seriously slacking in this respect. Pussy-ass bitches.

The reason I like the Amber universe is not just because of the power to go anyplace you can imagine, but because of the way all the shadow worlds are set up as part of the tension between chaos defined as a specific place (The Courts of Chaos) and order defined as a specific place (poorly represented though it is by Amber.)