I recently did a ranking of types of sci-fi worlds based on how much I’d want to live in them, so I figured, why not do fantasy worlds too? Fantasy is my jam!
This list was surprisingly difficult to put together because it’s not about specific worlds, but rather subgenres and the types of worlds they’re about, and there’s so much variation and overlap. I did my best to come up with ten options though, and this is the ranking I’ve determined!
I recognize that Hell may not be considered fantasy, depending on your beliefs, but it is a setting sometimes found in fantasy books. And the way authors decide to portray it is still made-up. I have read some books that took place either entirely or partially in Hell, and it actually wasn’t so bad for the characters not being tortured (in one of them, they mostly did a lot of bird watching, which is kind of already my life). But for this post, I have to consider the possibility that I would be one the tortured souls. Even just visiting seems like it’d be a miserable place. So no thanks, I’ll pass!
9. Fairy Tales
Have you ever read an original fairy tale? They’re the worst. People have body parts cut off, and get eaten in stew, and trade away their children. Definitely not a world I’d want to live in.
8. Under the Sea
This is a strange option, I know, because there aren’t that many books that take place under the sea. But merfolk! There are some portrayals of merfolk societies in the ocean. As much as I’ve always wanted to be a mermaid though, living under the ocean seems kind of… horrifying? It might be beautiful, but as a human, I guess the thought of living permanently or for any long period of time underwater is just kind of unimaginable. It’s too different from what I’m used to, even if my body were suited to the environment.
7. High Fantasy without Magic
I’ve seen portrayals of worlds that are not ours but they don’t have magic or any fantastical elements. It’s just a similar but slightly different world. And if it’s only gonna be a slightly different world, there is a chance it could be better than what we have, but I think I’ll stick with the devil I know.
6. Portal Fantasy
This is so broad because a portal could lead to any sort of world (examples: Narnia, Wonderland). But maybe it’d be a really cool world! Or maybe it’d be awful. Which is why I’ve situated it around the middle of the ranking. Too much risk. It’d definitely be an adventure though!
5. Magical Realism
This is another broad one because it could really be anything. My understanding is that magical realism is a world similar to ours but something strange or magical is just a normal part of the world that everyone accepts because they know no different. So living in one of these worlds, it would just be normal to me. If I were to be transported to one, I guess it’d take some adjustment, depending. But maybe it’d be something cool or useful, like having wings and being able to fly.
4. Faery Realm
I am really taking my chances by putting this one so high because I’ve seen portrayals of the Faery Realm that are great and beautiful and magical but also portrayals that are traumatizing and brutal for the humans who end up there. But I don’t know… I think I’d risk it if I had the chance. If anyone knows where I can find a fairy ring, let me know!
3. High Fantasy with Magic
Now we’re really getting to the good stuff! Magic! It’s impossible to know what the world would be like, since high fantasy worlds can be modern or Medieval or similar to our own world or completely different from our own world or full of animal-people or wild and naturey or anything really, but at least there’d be magic.
2. Low Fantasy / Urban Fantasy / Paranormal (Secret)
Finally, we are getting to what I really want: that magic and them supernaturals. Gimme the vampires and witches and djinn and demons (preferably nice ones) and angels. It’s not that I think our world would be better than possible fantasy worlds, but there’s so much possible variation when it comes to other worlds or realms that staying here is the least risky. And if there were magic and supes, maybe I could get in on that and make my life better??? But if they exist in secret, I may never know about it, and therefore it might not have any impact on my life. Who knows, this could be the world we’re living in now! Maybe there’s a whole supernatural or magic underworld we don’t know about! But at least if it existed, even in secret, there’d be a chance to get some helpful magic, or to get myself a sexy supernatural boyfriend ;-)
1. Low Fantasy / Urban Fantasy / Paranormal (Publicly Known)
Last but not least, an urban fantasy world where the magic and the supernaturals have been revealed to the public. It would be our world, but imagine how it might change! Magic could be used for good: for healing, for protection, for improving lives and making life easier. Anyone who wants interaction with supernaturals could go to supernatural-friendly bars or dating sites. We could have symbiotic relationships, since there would things they could help us with and things we could help them with. Of course this is an idealized version of things, which it almost certainly wouldn’t be in reality, but a world with all our modern technologies plus humans, magic users, and supernaturals coexisting, working together, and helping each other is the world in which I want to live. As much as I love reading about supernaturals, I mostly just think the world could use a little magic.