Top Ten Settings I’d Like to See More Of

Those over at The Broke and the Bookish have spoken, and our topic this week is settings. At first glance this topic feels a little wacky, but it’s true that a sense of place is one of the most important aspects of a good story. So without further ado, here are more I’d like to see:

Boarding Schools. I originally wanted to say “Hogwarts”, but alas, that’s  just plain stupid. The Harry Potter series is complete after seven books, and I, like the rest of the Muggle world, must learn to deal with it. However! The non-magical world of teen fic set in boarding schools is still entertaining. Kaite reminded me of the laugh-out-loud hilarity found in the Spud series by John van de Ruit, so it’s only right that I should crave more.

This 2001 Vancouver-based chef/murder mystery novel has been on my to-read list for years. (Counterpoint, 2003)

Vancouver. British Columbia, Canada, that is. I hail from Vancouver, so it’s always cool when I find a book that places fictional characters in among where I live. This is probably true for anyone and their respective home. But back to me! There is no greater quirk than reading about someone else’s passing thoughts on the huge murder of crows that used to hang out at the McDonalds off Exit 29 of the Trans-Canada Highway. Oddly specific details make fiction feel like déjà vu, which makes it all the more thrilling. (FYI: The crow reference was found in Douglas Coupland’s The Gum Thief, reviewed here.)

Lifeboats. I recently watched the fantastic movie version of Life of Pi, so maybe that’s where this came from. But Pi was alone (mostly). And really, haven’t we read enough survival stories about people/kids trapped on deserted islands? Is there a single story about a group of people having to make it on a lifeboat? There should be.

A Modern-Day Amusement Park. Not the circus! And not set against the Depression Era, please. Those stories have their own sheen of mystery to them, but strip away the Romance of a different time, take out the insane crazy-eyes carnies, and you still have an interesting setting to begin with. How many story lines could come out of a place where roller coasters need regular maintenance and sullen-faced teenagers pick up garbage all day long? Fun!

I so badly wanted to like “Adventureland” that I made the mistake of watching it twice. It was worse the second time around. Not fun.

Lazy Beach Towns. I will never get tired of the old fisherman, hippy artist, and vacationing teenagers archetypes. The ocean is moody, and that  makes a good backdrop for complex characterizations. So whether it’s California, Hawaii, or the United Kingdom, I’m sold.

Any Historically Significant City That’s Still There. I’ve read – and loved – books set in modern and ancient-day Prague, Berlin, Rome, London, Shanghai, Sierra Leone, Cape Town, San Francisco, and the wild wild West. Not only is it a cool way to learn about  history, it’s also a great way to anticipate future travels. There is a reason many readers love to travel, and vise versa!

Hotels. By now you’ll notice I have this thing for “behind the scenes” settings. I mostly just want to know what it’s like to do the thankless work of a hotel concierge or cleaning lady, without actually doing it. Plus, there’s a lot of intrigue in a place where faces are always changing, and are people moving in and out (Psycho, anyone?). Horror stories  are just the tip of the iceberg. A lot of comedy could come out of this, too.

Future Earths. The main reason I like to read the occasional Sci-Fi or otherwise speculative novel is to envision the planet after X event. But it doesn’t have to be post-apocalypse or alien invasion – it could just be that new discoveries have changed things. I particularly enjoyed the imagined “fear” landscapes in Divergent (read our review), where people had to fight against the powers of their own mind. Eek!

Mermaids! Drawn by my talented sister, Heather. She gets first dibs at the illustration of my inevitably weird children’s book.

Under the Sea. I’m sorry to keep relating everything to my love of the ocean! Now, I might have Ariel to thank for this, but I’ve always loved mer-people. I’ve watched practically all the movies about them, but really haven’t  read any books. I’m pretty sure not every mermaid’s father is the king. So what do peasant mermaids do? Are they as pretty as princess mermaids? Are there ugly mermaids? Are they nice, or ferocious? Do mermaids have cliques? I think it’s becoming pretty obvious what I’m asking for here…Saved by the Shell: The High-school Mermaid Adventures.

Stables. I’m not a big “horse person”, but on the other hand I’ve never read of an ugly stable boy. Enough said?

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5 responses

  1. This is a really neat idea for a post. I think it will be interesting to see you do another list like this one year from now, as the current market is so, so saturated with indies writing the same series and trilogies with similar book covers and plot archs. I’m sure there will be an appetite for a new variety next time, which keeps the evolution of relevant and important books so fascinating. It’s my hope that more contemporary and literary novels will (and I think they will) stage a resurgence. Cheers!

    Damon Ferrell Marbut
    Author, Awake in the Mad World

  2. This is non fiction, but I once read Neither Here Nor There by Bill Bryson and I have never been able to get his chapter on Hammerfest, Norway (the northernmost city in the world) out of my mind. The northern lights there are supposed to be incredible.

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