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:


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

  1. TopHat says:

    I’m torn between Marvel NY and the TARDIS.

    On the one hand, I’m a Marvel fan and being on Earth-616 (A place where explosions and radiation give you powers, rather then just killing you) would just be awesome.

    On the other hand the TARDIS let’s you go all across time and space, getting into crazy adventures. And the Doctor is one cool guy.

  2. Jeff Hebert says:

    I guess one question I didn’t think about with Dr. Who is, wouldn’t he get pissed if you stole his phone booth? And from what little I know, he’s a resourceful fellow who’d find you eventually. I can’t imagine that’d be a pleasant reunion.

  3. Joshua says:

    Jeff, it’s ironic you mentioning stealing the TARDIS because the Doctor stole the TARDIS from the Time Lords in the first place. I’m not British, but I would love to be an official “Companion” and spend some time traveling through time and space with the Doctor; maybe we’ll get to thwart the Daleks as a bonus.

  4. Bael says:

    I gotta think that Star Trek’s Federation is about the only place that would really give a non hostile welcome to indigent travelers. I doubt most of the other locales will take US dollars.

  5. Iago_Valentine says:

    As an additional note to Coruscant, once you were there you could get transport to virtually anywhere in the Galaxy, with the possible exceptions of the Unknown Regions and Wild Space. But other than that, you could pretty much get anywhere from the Deep Core to the Outer Rim. It just depends on the… legitimacy of the transport you choose. That, and if the First National Bank of the Galactic Republic can exchange dollars for credits.

    That raises another question, though: what era of Star Wars fiction are we talking here?

  6. Jake says:

    Easily Middle Earth, though preferably at the start of the fourth age. Of course, that would mean there wouldn’t be too many Elves left in Rivendell, which on the one hand would suck, but on the other hand that’s free real estate.

  7. Worf says:

    Well Jeff, I think you cast my vote for me when you included Star Trek in there, didn’t you?

    I do admit it would have been harder had you included Asimov’s Foundation or it’s predecessor Trantor.

  8. Kalkin says:

    Well, I guess the best world is the one, where a lazy slob like me could live comfortably and achieve easy prosperity. I personally don’t like Star Trek world (too vanilla for my taste), but a society, where everyone can get their needs fullfilled is appealing. Second best is Barsoom, because in Burroughs’ Mars eartlings are immortal and superpowered due to their earthborn physiology. That means even I could leap over (small) buildings in single bound. Third best is Coruscant, since I could buy any simple gadget and make good business on Earth. Marvel, DC, Tardis and Forgotten realms come next in a cluster. In each of them a guy like me could attain prosperity – even power – but that would involve…adventures. I’m not too fond of facing killer robots, picking fights with super villains, sneaking into dragons lair or getting odd injections in a lab of an insane scientist. Then comes Middle Earth, less dangerous than forgotten realms, but also less fortune to rip off. Magic items are a lot less useful and available and becoming a wizard a lot harder. The dead last is Hogwart’s. A muggle breaking into the wizard’s school, biiiig mistake. No change of success, very little change of walking out with human legs.

  9. EnderX says:

    If the portal allows for an exact 1:1 timeflow ratio, Narnia. If not, none of them. I have no desire to pull a Rip Van Winkle on either side of the gate.

  10. Tigerguy786 says:

    I went with Narnia, while the Pevensies were ruling. I would enjoy having a tiger for a best friend.

  11. William A. Peterson says:

    You’re forgetting the other income-earning potential of a Kirk-era gate!
    “Ladies, Gentlemen, Historians of all species! Step right up to a gate to 21st-Century Earth, just prior to the start of the Eugenics Wars!” 😀

  12. remy says:

    Personally, (though its not on the list) i think that it would be cool to be in the Gotham City represented in Batman Beyond. Marvel’s NY would be cool too

  13. Tristan says:

    The Doctors TARDIS without a dout I love DW more that marvel and DC combined!!!! p.s. im not British

  14. haz says:

    The TARDIS is just the best thing ever. And I’m going to go ahead and assume the Doctor is already on board and that this is more of an anytime access to being a companion thing than an “I stole your ship” thing. And honestly, I like the Doctor so much that if it is a “stole your ship” thing, I’d return the ship. I’m a-okay with companion status. And somehow Doctor Who makes time-travel exciting instead of migraine-inducing. Once you can travel through time and space, anything else seems claustrophobically limited.

  15. Kaldath says:

    I selected the Tardis, simply because of the choices given that is the best one in my opinion. How if you had replaced Forgetten Realms with Dragonlance my choice would have been different, I am a Huge Fan of Krynn.

  16. Matt says:

    It seems that I am probly one of the three British people on this site and I would definatly choose the TARDIS as well but it would depend on which Doctor I had, If it was the 4th or 5th (Tom Baker & Peter Davison) it would be awesome but I never liked Colin Bakers Doctor.

  17. Patrick says:

    Okay, okay I know I am being a dick but I cannot help myself. The Doctor’s TARDIS is not in the shape of a phone booth, but a police call box http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Police_call_box

    There I feel better now.

    Also Dr. Who’s TARDIS, is waaayyyy cooler than any of the other entries.

  18. Jeff Hebert says:

    Hunh, all this time I thought it was a phone booth. Thanks Patrick!

  19. Sean Murphy says:

    Something to think about. the Doctor’s stolen TARDIS is one of the safest places in existence, although even it has been invaded on one occasion. I recall an episode when the Sontarans snuck a squadron inside, and the doctor wound up leading them into blind alleys and traps, cutting down their numbers along the way.

  20. PCFDPGrey says:

    Wow, Jeff, so many possibilities, and yet so many left out (What, no Stargate or Farscape?!) I admit to being a big DW fan myself (although the new Doctor needs to go on a quest in search of a pair of eyebrows), so there’s a huge draw there. Star Trek in any of its incarnations has always been pretty lame when you think about it. William Peterson mentioned the possibility of making money on the Trek side by having “the ultimate getaway to Pre-Eugenics Wars Earth. The problem with that is that it has been mentioned before in the series that the Federation has done away with such petty things as money and finances (although that may have only been by the TNG period. You’ll have to ask someone else familiar with the series who’d know better than I). So there goes that get-rich-quick scheme.

    The more I think about it, I think I’d have to go with TSR’s Forgotten Realms for several reasons:
    1. Precious metals seem to be as common as water there (the standard monetary unit is gold, silver, copper and platinum).
    2. Chicks in chainmail bikinis.
    3. Precious gems seem only slightly less abundant.
    4. Chicks in chainmail bikinis
    5. Magic items. Who needs science and Swiss-army Tricorders when you can slip a Ring of Rejuvenation on. You have phasers and photon torpedoes? Pfft, suck my Fireball, Lightning bolt and Greater Meteor Swarm. Magic weapons and armor? We gots ‘em.
    6. There is NNNOOO….. reason #6
    7. What has to be one of the most compelling reasons to go with Forgotten Realms: Chicks in chainmail bikinis!!!
    8. Oh, don’t forget conversations with Elminster.
    9. And did I mention the chicks in chainmail bikinis?

  21. dementedtheclown says:

    Patrick Beat Me To It. Im Not British Either, I’d Pick It For The Possibilitys

  22. dementedtheclown says:

    @Joshua He Stole It?

    How could he steal it from the time lords when he’s almost the last one left? With all the time lords inside him.

  23. Joshua says:

    @Demented– For reasons that have yet to be fully revealed, at some point the Doctor stole an outdated Type 40 TARDIS and fled Gallifrey, taking with him the Hand of Omega. Of course, The Doctor would say he merely “borrowed” it.

  24. Loki says:

    TARDIS all the way!

  25. Sean Murphy says:


    I haven’t had the opportunity to watch the last season or two, so I didn’t know that the Time Lords were wiped out. He stole it some unknown large number of years before that happened. In fact, back in the 70’s he returned to Gallifrey for the first time since he stole the TARDIS and he even became the President for a time. Mostly in order to stop the Master from destroying Gallifrey and regenerating a thirteenth time (twelve used to be the maximum – I don’t know if that is still true).

  26. Matt says:

    @dementedtheclown: (In advance I am sorry for knowing waaay too much information about doctor who dispite only being 15) Basically during the Doctors First Life he took his grandaughter (Susan), the Hand of Omega and stole a Tardis to escape Gallifrey and became a rouge Timelord, knowing that they would find him he hid in London in 1963 and remained there for five months. After that time Susans teachers, Ian and Barbra followed her home and entered the Tardis, The Doctor was scared that they were going to tell everyone of them, so he decided to kidnap them and thats how the story began, including meeting the Daleks and having several companions and leaving others behind, untill he had his first regeneration after dieing of old age after fighting the Cybermen, Timelords can have 12 regenerations or 13 lives (probly where you got a bit confused @Sean Murphy) and during his second life (or first regeneration, like I said its confusing) he continued his adventures but got discovered by the Timelords and taken to Gallifey because of his Involvement in continuesly saving Earth (The Timelords law means they watch but cannot be involved) and was punished by having his companions minds wiped and forced to regenerate and be Exiled to Earth, but somthing happend before this and the doctor had atleast 2 more adventures (called Season 6B if you are intrested). I would mention the rest, but I’d have to kill myself after realising I know too much about a show.

  27. PCFDPGrey says:

    “Basically during the Doctors First Life he took his grandaughter (Susan), the Hand of Omega and stole a Tardis to escape Gallifrey and became a rouge Timelord, knowing that they would find him he hid in London in 1963 and remained there for five months.”

    Matt, I’m sorry, are you saying there was a tijme when the Doctor was a cross dresser? I’m sorry I missed that. Or did you mean he was a ROGUE Time lord? There is a difference. Thanks 🙂

  28. Matt says:

    Yeah, I was never that good at spelling.

  29. PCFDPGrey says:

    Quite alright. You’re not the first and you won’t be the last. I just couldn’t resist a little good-natured ribbing.

  30. Patrick says:

    For all we know the Doctor could have been a cross dresser, the TARDIS is stocked with an awful lot of outfits. Just sayin’ is all.

  31. Sean Murphy says:

    Actually, the Master was in is thirteenth life, and was attempting to engineer a thirteenth regeneration/fourteenth life. I wasn’t confused, I just didn’t know if the current writers still kept that limitation since the last I got to watch, being as it has been thirty years…

  32. Ben says:

    Well, wouldn’t you be able to travel to Gotham City from Superman’s Metropolis?

    Also, Spider-Man’s New York is appealling, because then I could hang out with Spider-Man and possibly the X-Men.

    Though the threat of super-powered villains in either place is a bit of a downer. I think the only really safe choice is Narnia…well, relatively safe. Though Hogwarts wouls be cool if you were a wizard, otherwise it would kinda stink. I mean visiting the place but not being able to actually learn…sad.

    And Middle Earth would be sweet, indeed. So hard to decided.

  33. Matt says:

    @Sean Murphy:
    I kinda phrased that wrong so thats my fault sorry. Also if it helps (not sure how), the Time Lords arent wiped out, the Doctor trapped them in a timelock that held the Time war.

  34. Sean Murphy says:

    Thanks, that does help. I had seen references to him being the last Timelord, and I have had a problem with that concept from the first minute I saw it. A ‘Timelock’ that traps them in some sort of time pocket is easier to suspend disbelief on, although the possibility of running into other Timelords in the distant future from before he trapped them is still awlays there…