Want to Take a Vacation in Ambergris?

Jeff VanderMeer • May 30th, 2008 @ 8:18 am • Uncategorized

Damien G. Walter at The Guardian online suggests, among others, Ambergris as a possible summer vacation spot…in terms of books to read.

I’m chuffed at the suggestion, of course, but my first thought was that even I definitely wouldn’t want to physically visit the place for a vacation. (Well, really, it would depend on the time of year, the proximity to the Festival of the Freshwater Squid, etc., etc.)

So, go check out and comment on the Guardian feature, but here, let’s talk fantasy vacations. What places would you want to visit? Not as a reader, but if you could physically go to locations in books you’ve read?

21 Responses to “Want to Take a Vacation in Ambergris?”

  1. Fábio says:

    New Crobuzon, just for starters. Then I would definitely take a farcaster to visit some of the worlds of Dan Simmons´s Hegemony of Man.

  2. Jen says:

    Charles de Lint’s Newford… I’ve recently read my latest two Newford books and I’m still under the influence of that dreamy atmosphere. King’s Mid-World, just for kicks. It’s probably not a very nice place to visit, but I am intrigued. Ryhope Wood in Holdstock’s Mythago Wood series (though I would settle for the real life wood in Kent it is based on). Also, Ankh Morpork should be loads of fun :D (if you lay low and not end up with a knife in your back, that is.)

  3. cleek says:

    Rivendell, of course. especially the art nouveau version from the recent movies.

    Verna (from the old short story “Of Missing Persons”) sounded like a nice place.

  4. Darja MC says:

    Gormenghast Castle, just to see it. Alice’s Wonderland. The alternative-history England of Ian MacLeod’s The Light Ages, where magic is mined.

  5. cleek » Fantasy Vacations says:

    [...] VanderMeer asks: What places would you want to visit? Not as a reader, but if you could physically go to locations [...]

  6. Robert Devereux says:

    My favorite places to read about don’t sound like fun visits (Ambergris, New Crobuzon, Viriconium).

    Like others, I think Middle Earth has some nice destinations: Rivendell, Lothlorien, Dwarvish mines without Balrogs. The Baghdad of The 1001 Nights would be interesting. The nameless city of Shaun Tan’s The Arrival, Cisco’s San Veneficio.

    I can’t scan my bookshelf for other ideas since all my books are in boxes until I move this weekend.

  7. Andrew says:

    The Shire. Perhaps Fangorn Forest. I’d definitely like to WATCH the battle of Helm’s Deep, but certainly not be in it.

    In my own world, perhaps one of the big Southern cities which I based on Mediterranean culture.

  8. Matt Staggs says:

    I’m with Robert. Most of the places that I enjoy reading about probably wouldn’t be very visitor-friendly.
    Ambergris would probably completely overwhelm me. The same with Felix Gilmore’s Ararat. I’m pleased that someone mentioned Holdstock’s Ryhope wood, though. That might be a nice place to visit, but I’m afraid that I’d never leave. What about Macondo, the village in “100 Years of Solitude?” That might be fun.
    Sometimes I think about visiting a particular author’s version of the normal world. I’d love to take a few late-night strolls through Caitlin R. Kiernan’s Birmingham, Alabama, for instance. Does that count?

  9. Jesse says:

    What of destinations that are fictional even in the fiction wherein they are mentioned? Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities contains dozens of intriguing locales, and I would love to clap eyes on most of them–even if they are just a fictional Marco Polo’s fictional creations. Also, all of Clark Ashton Smith’s worlds would be worth a gambol, I imagine, although like many of the destinations mentioned here such vacations might prove permanent in one way or another.

  10. Felix Gilman says:

    all of these places sound really dangerous and frightening

    I would play it safe and visit Smurf Village, where I could lord it over those tiny blue losers like a gigantic despot

  11. Ann Wilkes says:

    I don’t know about visiting. But if I LIVED in the world of Practice Effect, by David Brin, I’d have all the best stuff. In that novel (one of my all time favorites), every object or tool, becomes better with use, even changing its molecular structure. Coming from a long line of pack rats would serve me well. :)

  12. Siobhan says:

    I’m a sucker for cities so New Crobuzon or Ambergris or Ashamoil would do me fine. Armada would be my version of a “beach” holiday.

  13. Jeff VanderMeer says:

    Siobhan: So you plan on wearing a hazmat suit the whole time? Possibly even armor?

  14. Larry says:

    Utopia, Macondo, Uqbar….hrmm…finding myself thinking much more about actual cities that have been used as fictional backdrops. Still want to stand on the Bridge on the Drina one day…

  15. Mary C says:

    Roberto Bolano’s Mexico City of the 1970′s. With a young Latino poet for my personal guide.

  16. Nathaniel Smith says:

    The Secret Country. Solaris. The Name of the Rose’s abbey. Iron Mountain. Permutation City. Cyteen. Riverside. Anarres. Hed and its environs.

    Well, it would be an *interesting* tour…

  17. GlenH says:

    Shadowbridge would make a nice change of view.

  18. Divers Hands says:

    I have always been partial to the damp and sunless climes of New England. Skin cancer, you know. I applied for my Master’s work at the famed Miskatonic University in Arkham recently, but have not received word on my acceptance as of yet. Perhaps I’ll head on up that way and tour the campus. Am told they have a fascinating number of donated collections in the library. And, it would give me the chance to visit a few realtions I have living in this little tourist town on the coast… someplace called Innismoth, or Innsmouth, or something…

    I am told that contrary to nigh forgotten Disney films, it is the Floating Market of London – and not Portobello Road – at which anything and everything can be found. I have further been advised that it is best to find a guide or bodyguard first thing upon arriving.

    During my more introspective years I actually contemplated attending the Seminary. An accquaintance of mine spent years at one outside of the city of San Venficio and highly recommended the city as a place to visit. His descriptions of the Orpheum in particular struck me as being a sight to see. Unfortunately, he passed away in a freak car accident before completing his education; apparently a driver abandoned his car while it was still running, or something…

    This same friend also recommended I see the necropolis outside of his hometown in the Mid-West. Some type of commune or collective apparently constructed an impressive sepulchre in the middle of an old graveyard using only the stones and sculptures of traditional funerary practices around this vast tree. It sounded neat.

    New Crobuzon and Ambergris came highly recommended, but I hear both cities are caught in the middle of local uprisings, or civil unrest or something. Though the last news I heard from Ambergris seemed hopeful. Sounded like some of the locals had managed to bring a modicum of control to the city’s factions…

    Ahh well, I guess I’ll probably just spend my vacation at home.

  19. Anne S says:

    Having just reread Cordwainer Smith, I rather fancy visiting Old Earth during the Instrumentality of Mankind.

  20. Siobhan says:

    Jeff: Oh I do that anyway, damn english complexion.

  21. Vega says:

    Lots of places! Middle-earth and Narnia, New Crobuzon and Ashamoil… Tlon and Uqbar and Orbis Tertius, Earthsea and the lands described in Catherynne Valente’s The Orphan’s Tales. Wouldn’t mind a visit to the future Earth of Sean McMullen’s Souls in the Great Machine either.

    Arde of A.K. Dewdney’s The Planiverse is the world I really wish there was more writing of… That world is one of the most imaginative out there. I’d prefer to be in 3-D form if I visited it though!

    Living is another matter entirely… I think Earthsea and New Crobuzon win equally for lands I’d like to actually live in. Or really, some generic SF-futuristic world. Give me some starships and that should keep me occupied for a while. =P

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