BLOGBUSTERS Sci-Fi Cities
It’s a city of justice! A city of love! A city of peace! But there ain’t peace enough! We all need it! Can’t live without it! Gotham Cittayyyyyy! Wait, REALLY? To this day those lines from R Kelly’s theme to the Batman movie that will not be named confuse the hell out of me. Gotham is many things; gothic, bustling, tightly-packed, industrious, occasionally on fire or under the control of a madman… but a city of peace? Really R? Really?
But then again, everyone needs a home and if Mr Kelly loves Gotham Cittayyyyy, then good luck to him. But what about the SFX Blogbuster team? Let’s ask them:
If you could live in one fictional city from sci-fi or fantasy, which one would it be and why?
Matt Risley: I’m afraid I’m going to show my comic book colours once again, but I’d go for Marvel’s New York City.
Sure, your chances of a full-scale city-wide attack are pretty high, but at least that’ll push down the realty rates. And aside from the endlessly entertaining sight of seeing all manner of Spandex-ed idiots flying, swinging or blasting their way past your office, it’s also a city with a high percentage chance of granting you your own super-power (check out Spider-Man‘s recent “Spider Island” arc, which gave every New Yorker Spider-powers).
Kell Harker: Just because I didn’t much care for Avatar doesn’t mean I wouldn’t want to live on Pandora. With its floating land masses, off-the-flippin’-chain bioluminescent wildlife, and its beautiful flora and fauna, Pandora is pretty much a paradise. And of course I’ve taken into consideration that I’ll have to be made into an avatar… Having a tail, being coloured blue and being free to run around all day half-naked? I’m sold! Who do I give my first and last month’s rent to?
Laura McConnell: Neverland. Never Land. Never-Never-Land. No matter how you spell it, there’s no question. Second star to the right and straight on ’til morning for me, thanks.
Alasdair Stuart: Superman’s Metropolis. I’m a country boy at heart, and there’s an irresistible romance to big cities that I always find when I visit London. I know a lot of people view big cities as impersonal and uncaring and they can certainly be that, but I’ve always been amazed by the sheer volume of stories taking place so close to one another. There’s a sense not of being alone in a crowd but being unique in a crowd, everyone working their own way but towards a common goal. It’s what you see in the moment in the first Raimi Spider-Man where the New Yorkers protect him, or the endless loyalty that the GCPD have to their battlezone of a city; loyalty, individuality in formation.
And you don’t get that anywhere more than in Metropolis. Metropolis is that swooping piano from Rhapsody In Blue by Gershwin writ large, a city of the future in the present inhabited by people carving their own paths towards that future. It’s an ideal you can live in, a home that actually improves everyone’s quality of life. Metropolis is a dream as much as a city.
Plus it has monorails and, I’m guessing, excellent coffee shops. What’s not to like?
Dave Golder: At first I though, “anywhere with flying cars.” Then I remembered Doctor Who’s “Grdlock” in New New York, and the Los Angeles of Blade Runner, and thought… maybe not. Too many sci-fi cities seem stinky, overcrowded near dystopias. Then again, at least the LA in Blade Runner has easy access to some lush countryside on its doorstep.
George Lucas’s Star Wars cities seem less grim, but there’s always the threat of bumping into a Gungan.
The city in Minority Report looks cool. Great transport system, lots of visual entertainment and zero(ish) crime rate, but the idea of being assailed everywhere by personally targeted ads puts me off.
So I’m going to go for the elegant Grandville, from Bryan Talbot’s exquisite graphic novels: a steam punk, alternate universe Paris with airships and six-foot talking badgers. I’d fit right in.
Steven Ellis: The first city that came to mind was Judge Dredd’s Mega-City One. Home to 400 million people, this huge megalopolis stretches down the eastern seaboard of future post apocalyptic America and is certainly the genre city I am most familiar with, but no way do I want to live there. Mega-City One is a vast urban hell with rampant crime, high unemployment and harsh laws, I doubt I’d last a day there without being robbed, murdered or stuck in a cube by the first Judge that saw me. It’s a fantastic, vibrant, brutal and amazing place to read about in 2000AD, but live there? Not a chance! In fact most of the genre places that come to mind are crime ridden hell holes. Even the places that seem quite utopian often have dark hidden secrets. Hmmm… Maybe some sort of secret hidden lair like the Bat Cave…
I’d rather live somewhere a little more relaxing. I think, given the choice, I’d like to live in Tranquillity, the giant sentient space habitat from Peter F Hamilton’s Night’s Dawn trilogy series. In Hamilton’s books a habitat is a cylindrical tube, capped at both ends, kind of a bio-tech take on an O’Neill cylinder. Tranquillity is the largest habitat in the Confederation, measuring 65 km long, with a 17 km diameter and the whole thing spins to provide gravity. Its shell is constructed from bitek polyp which is a genetically-engineered organic material. Like all Hamilton’s habitats, the interior is filled with a lush mix of trees, parkland and civic and social buildings. The habitat contains a large circumfluous lake at the southern interior endcap with a spaceport/docking hub at the opposite end. On its exterior shell Tranquillity has a ring of huge starscrapers where the majority of the three million plus population lives. Tranquillity is one of the few independent and neutral habitats in Hamilton’s Confederation and is a haven for traders and adventurers; the habitat has low tax, relaxed banking laws and the place comes across as a high frontier version of Casablanca.
I’ve always loved the idea of giant habitats in space and the history and technology behind Tranquillity makes me think it’d be a great place to live. You could watch the spaceships coming and going, spent time in the interior parkland or relax in one of Tranquillity’s many bars or restaurants, all in a guaranteed crime free environment. I sound like a travel brochure…
I’d need my own spaceship of course. Hmm, I wonder if they’d let me keep the Star Destroyer I asked for in last week’s question…
Good question, Gerald! And one which segues neatly into next week’s question. We’ve established what vehicle or steed we’d want, we’ve established where we’d live, now we’re going to try something a little different:
If you could take any two genre fiction stories and combine them, which would you choose and why?
Will Steven park his Star Destroyer on Tranquility? Will we prove that the Terminator and Avatar can exist peacefully together? What if Doctor Who really did turn up in The Fast And The Furious? At least one of these questions will be answered next week. See you in seven…