Science fiction, it is a genre highlighted by futuristic tech, strange new customs, and fiction grounded just so in real science that it seems plausible. All of these items draw us in to the wonderful worlds of science fiction, however, the worlds themselves seemingly have the strongest gravity of all. The reality created in a sci-fi story is what neatly ties together and packages everything else that gravitates us toward them. Here are our top ten sci-fi worlds.
- Arrakis– Arrakis is the primary world in the acclaimed and loved novel Dune. Dune is often heralded as the greatest science fiction novel of all time, and much of that has to do with the world. At first glance, Arrakis seems very boring and drab: sand here, sand there, sand everywhere. But, dig underneath the surface (symbolically as well as literally), and you find what is perhaps one of the most intriguing worlds in all of science fiction. With a deep history, complicated ecosystem, and exotic creatures that keep you on your toes, the world of Dune is sure to leave you breathless.
- Laputa– While the floating city of Laputa is not an entire world, it is nonetheless one of the more intriguing sci-fi locales in literature. Found in Gulliver’s Travels, the floating city of Laputa is a city devoted entirely to classical and extreme materialism; that is to say: science without ethics. In Swift’s humorous yet convicting satire, we see that the Laputians have achieved many amazing feats such as levitating an entire city perpetually. However, their science is not practical. They have sought science for science’s sake and in doing so have used their science only to satiate their curiosities instead of using it to cure diseases, end world hunger, etc. They are so cut off from reality in their floating city that they often never move from deep thought unless it is to use the restroom. While not geographically stunning per se, it is the inhabitants which make this city so interesting.
- Solaris– Solaris, from the novel by the same name, is quite the antithesis to Arrakis. It has replaced the wasteland of sand with a wasteland of water. However, this sprawling ocean planet is conscious. The waters can read your mind, and is highly sought after for its ability to replicate individuals whilst giving the replicant superhuman abilities. Full of aquatic allure, Solaris is a planet sure to please many.
- Future Earth- In what is often considered the father of cyberpunk, William Gibson’s Neuromancer has what is perhaps one of the most descriptive and atmospheric worlds in all of science fiction. Forgoing the usual tropes, Gibson focused more on atmospheric worldbuilding. And boy does it pay off. The sprawling, technocratic megalopolis that has become the Earth is rife with amazing attention to detail from its seedy, neon-lit underbelly to its towering skyscrapers. This world is sure to leave you speechless in awe of the urban jungle.
- The Road- Although many do not like calling it a science fiction story, Cormac McCarthy’s The Road is definitely full of enough tropes to make this list. Playing off of the recently popular post-apocalyptic literature, the world in The Road is obviously deeply damaged (both symbolically and literally). However, the world itself almost seems living, and we are given no explanation for how civilization fell. Forests spontaneously combust, the world is dusty and cold, and almost no reason is given for why this happened. The mystery of the world and how the apocalypse happened only adds to the mystique and allure of the reality McCarthy has created.
- Panem- Ok so if you were hoping we were going to stay away from mainstream, “over-hyped” worlds then you were sorely, sorely mistaken. The world of Panem in Suzanne Collins’s The Hunger Games is by far one of the most intricately designed and creatively written worlds in all of science fiction. It has all of the right dystopian tropes, but with fresh new faces. The world is rife with mutagenically created animals, a big brother government, and sprawling “no man’s lands” full of forests, deserts, oh and arenas where children hack each other to pieces for the bloodlust of the super-rich. The world of Panem is guaranteed to cause a reaction, but whether it entertains or repulses is up to you dear reader.
- Future Chicago- The Chicago we meet in the Divergent trilogy is much different than the one Sinatra sang about. Indeed, only the crumbling and ruined buildings remain of that great city. In its place resides a new civilization, one that is ravaged by petty party politics and xenophobia. This claustrophobic system creates a world of dystopian nightmares for those of us who hate absolute labels (and aptitude tests…). Among the ever-bickering factions you will find a Chicago that is full of adventure, and danger, and political intrigue.
- Utopia- Utopia (for lack of a better name) is the world in which we find the story of Lois Lowry’s The Giver. This is a world without feelings, without emotion, without humanity. Everything that makes us human has been removed by the society; they have instead elected to value “efficiency” over humanity. This terrifyingly real world is set in the moderately-distanced future, and has the appropriate technology to enforce their cruel regime like the technological drug that removes all emotions. If you go here, be prepared for a bleak, black and white world.
- World of Minority Report- Philip K. Dick’s astounding story Minority Report, has captivated readers (and movie goers) for decades. However, the ethical questions raised by the tale are only one allure. The technocratic world Dick constructed is deliciously horrific, causing us to imagine what it would be like to live in a world where your every movement is monitored by psychic mutants, eager to expose your “crimes”. This is the ultimate police state. Travelers to this reality would be wary to even ponder stealing a piece of gum from the local convenience store.
- The Field of Arbol- It would be hard not to include the universe of C.S. Lewis’s Space Trilogy in this list. While the stories are most definitely science fiction, they are excellent case studies in how sci-fi and fantasy can often be one. Each of the three worlds depicted are eerily alien, yet very much fantastical. It would be hard to give a summary of this deep, expansive universe filled with allegory and enough descriptors to rekindle an awe for nature within you. However, for those of you who have read this trilogy, you know why this made the list.
What do you think of our list? Did we miss your favorite worlds? Do you hate some of our picks? Let us know down in the comments, we love to hear from you!