Poll Position: On portals

We've talked before about various fictional universes we'd like to live in, but I want to take a slightly different angle on that:

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Discussion after the jump.

What I like about this question is that you've got a permanent two-way portal into a completely different reality. Will the rules in that place apply to this world? What risks do you run by allowing citizens of that world access to ours (through your house, no less!). Is there a risk of them overrunning us somehow if the portal were to fall into evil hands? Or vice versa, what if some unscrupulous residents of good ol' Earth were to take over your access, would they destroy the alternate reality? These are all issues you wouldn't face as simply someone living there permanently -- two-way doorways matter, bringing with them a whole set of problems and expectations you have to deal with.

  • C.S. Lewis' Narnia: On the plus side, the universe already has dealt with a portal entry before, so you pretty much know what you're getting into. On the down side, I never personally found Narnia a particularly interesting place, so I wouldn't want to go there.
  • Star Wars' Coruscant: Really this could open to almost anyplace in the Star Wars universe, but which era and which planet do matter. For instance, having a doorway to Alderaan shortly before the Death Star rounds the moon would be pretty lousy. Similarly, you wouldn't want to give Darth Vader or Emperor Palpatine unfettered access to a whole new world of subjects. However, you've got to like the possibility of a) bringing back some advanced tech to our world, making yourself pretty wealthy in the process, and b) getting training in how to use the Force. You'd be a freaking super-hero in our reality with Force powers, particularly since no one else here knows anything about how to do it.
  • Superman's Metropolis: Lots of potential bad guys, and nothing startlingly different from what we have here in the real world.
  • Tolkien's Rivendell during the Third Age: Rivendell always seemed like the best place to be in LOTR. Hobbiton seemed pleasant but boring, Lothlórien came off as a bit stuffy, and Minas Tirith too gritty. Rivendell offers diversity, pleasant surroundings, access to adventure, and safety.
  • Spider-Man's New York City: Similar to the Metropolis entry, but Marvel's version of it all. Even less appealing for that reason -- Marvel villains play for keeps.
  • Kirk-era Star Fleet Academy: This has a lot of appeal, a friendly and inclusive society full of awesome technology, and one which you can imagine a modern person fitting into relatively easily.
  • Dr. Who's Phone Booth: I confess I don't know much (i.e. anything) about Dr. Who, so I'll leave analysis of this one up to you all. However, as I understand it he can use that phone booth to go anywhere and anywhen, which is awfully cool. In a sense, if that's true you basically get multiple worlds by just choosing this one.
  • TSR's Forgotten Realms: Like the Star Wars entry, this partially depends on exactly where you'd come out. There's also a fundamental difference in flow of power, though, as you'd be bringing modern weapons, materials, and knowledge into what is essentially a medieval type of setting here, versus being the barbarian in the more futuristic societies.
  • Burroughs' Barsoom: Scantily clad women, lower gravity, and awesome steampunk style goodies.
  • Rowlings' Hogwarts: Unless you turn out to have wizard powers, this would be a fairly lame experience. Who wants to be cannon fodder?!

I can't say I find the super-hero or modern fantasy settings (Barsoom, Hogwarts, Dr. Who) appealing, they're just too much like what we have here. So the question for me becomes, do I want to go into a more futuristic society, or one where I would essentially be the futurist. And to some extent, what decides that is, where do you want to mainly live? If you're accessing the Federation, let's be honest, you're probably going to be a technology raider, going there mostly for medical care and to bring back technology you could translate into vast wealth and power here on Earth.

But if you were to go to, say, the Forgotten Realms milieu, the opposite would be true. You'd be bringing modern technology and techniques to a more primitive world, and you'd be able to set yourself up quite comfortably there.

Ultimately I think I'd rather have access to Star Trek, though. It's the most Utopian of all the possibilities, and it would be easy to straddle both worlds, living in whichever suited your fancy at the time. Plus there aren't as many scary villains who'd be hell-bent on taking over your access portal if word got out, lessening the threat they would pose to us.

What about you, which would you pick and why?

34 Responses to Poll Position: On portals