Five places I do not want to go for a destination wedding

5. Mordor from Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien


Since the bestselling travelogue and memoir Lord of the Rings came out, Mordor’s reputation has quickly skyrocketed from obscure natural orc reserve known only to the truly dedicated, to a must-go travel destination found on nearly every bucket list.

Well known for its stable weather patterns, battle reenactments, nightly light shows, and bubbling volcano-heated hot springs, Mordor provides a dramatic backdrop to a couple looking for a picturesque setting for their wedding.  Barad-dûr, known as the Dark Tower to the locals, boasts the area’s highest vantage point and is a natural go-to spot for a photo-op. For an even better view, charter an eagle flight for the afternoon.

Couples looking for the adventure of travel with the trappings of civilization will enjoy the comfort of big-name hotels and wealth of direct flights to Mordor. Applying for a marriage license is easy; present proof of citizenship, your length of stay, and marital status. A local goblin clerk can process your request overnight.


4. Shayol Ghul from The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan


Credit: The Last Battle / Aradani Studios

For those looking for the scenic drama of Mordor without the lines, Shayol Ghul is an excellent choice. Located at the core of the Blasted Lands and inaccessible by land due to the vast expanse of the Great Blight, Shayol Ghul has remained accessible only through a small airline, specialized to take on the local weather. That said, the layer of fog and constant lightning across the Blasted Lands is perfect for couples looking to enjoy a night club atmosphere. Continue reading

[Small Chirp] The importance of a socio-economically viable premise in dystopian world-building

Disclaimer: CanaryTheFirst was a pol-sci major. She did the title.

When SciFi loses the ‘Sci’

When the pull to finish a book is siren-song strong, I usually think it’s because I’m truly enjoying myself. That’s how the first Twilight book tricked me. Now I know that when I finish a book that quickly, putting some distance and time between me and it are the only way to tell whether the book was actually good (like The Hunger Games) or if my brain was so engaged in the train-wreck of a narrative that I couldn’t look away (like with Twilight). And now I find myself in the same predicament with Divergent.

On the one hand, I can’t stop talking about it. I just kept telling people about the premise. My roommate. My mom. Sometimes the cat when there was no one else around to listen. But I get the same reaction each time (even from the cat): that world just sounds stupid.

As I explained in my review, the world of Divergent is split into five factions, each favoring one aspect of human nature: Abnegation (selflessness), Dauntless (courage), Erudite (knowledge), Candor (honesty), and Amity (friendliness).  And that’s not to say that they tend to defer to that personality when times get tough. They eat/sleep/breathe it. To pick a faction, members of the Abnegation only wear grey, default to the other person in conversation and opinion, and are in charge of feeding and clothing the homeless. They display no other traits in public (or in private).

Mreeowl, said our cat at this point, and I had to agree. It’s a great and unique idea for a world.

But it is also flat-out untenable.  Human beings have a wide range of emotional potential by nature–and consist of every trait imaginable. That idea that we learned to live as single-emotion cells for generations on end? That we willingly chose to repress all emotions but one? In a world that’s otherwise almost exactly like our own? No, that’s a stroll too close to the far-fetched line.

On the other hand, Canary The First thinks I’m being elitist. Surely, if a book is an enjoyable read, then it is a good book on some level—you shouldn’t have to put time and distance between the read and the analysis.

To some extent she’s right. Divergent was certainly enjoyable; I’ve already recommended it to several people. But just because something is pleasant does not mean that it won’t nag at my mind until even the initial enjoyment is gone (I’m looking at you, Inception). If my brain has to shut down completely to enjoy the fun factor, then the book probably isn’t achieving on all levels.

So what about you, Canaries? Do you ever find yourselves wondering whether the author had done any thought experiments before writing a world? What other universes have dipped too far to the unbelievable for you?