When considering the worlds I’d most not want to visit, the biggest concerns were 1) how likely it was that I would be suddenly and inexplicably killed, 2) the general state of health care 3) what life is like for the average person living there. Left off the list were dystopias in general, because let’s face it, the entire premise of the setting is that things have already gone horribly wrong and everything sucks.
That pretty much sums up Arrakis. Bad enough that it’s a desert planet with no natural precipitation, but it’s also inhabited by the long lived, almost indestructible giant sand worms, who are extremely territorial and attracted by rhythmic noises. On top of that, its only natural resource, melange (or “spice”) is a byproduct of the sandworms, and any attempts to terraform the planet to make it more liveable destroys both the worms and the spice. Its value makes it a fiercely contended political prize that claims numerous lives in assassinations and features at the center of several cults and religious wars. The melange itself is not without problems - while it can give the user heightened abilities and a longer lifespan, it’s also incredibly addictive, and withdrawal is fatal. It’s most often found when it explodes from underground, powerfully enough to kill anyone nearby. Ingesting it in large amounts while pregnant causes your children to be born fully conscious, with access to all of their ancestors’ memories, and the distinct possibility of being possessed by one of them. It’s in pretty much everything on Arrakis. Honorary imitator mention: Tatooine (Star Wars) The main occupations seem to be crime or moisture farming. Moisture farming, people!Advertisement
The New & Old Worlds (Sword of Truth)
The lands in the Sword of Truth series are perpetually embroiled in one giant conflict or another, struggling against cunning, evil wizard-tyrants and their armies, evil magic, or even more massive armies led by even more oppressive evil wizard-tyrants. And, of course, the occasional sadistic serial killer. Torture and ritual magical sacrifice are fairly commonplace, whether it’s disemboweling someone to divine answers in their entrails, stealing a wizard’s magic by skinning him alive, or just the lengthy scenes of torture to show how thoroughly evil different characters are (best hope you’re not in the wrong place - which could be anywhere - at the wrong time). To make things worse, you’re just as likely to have a horrible fate befall you if you’re a random peasant or if you’re in a position of political/magical power. You’re probably safest just falling on your sword. (if at all possible, avoid being a female)
I suppose technically Miranda isn’t such a bad place to live now, depending on how much of the PAX drug still remains in the atmosphere - aside from all the perfectly preserved dead bodies lying everywhere! One of the big reveals of the Serenity movie was that the series’ most feared villains, the Reavers, were actually some of the the former inhabitants of a newly terraformed planet. They had an adverse reaction to a drug put into the atmosphere by the government to induce peace and became the crazed cannibalistic rapist-murderers we all know and fear today. Of course, in order to get to the planet, you have to travel through Reaver territory, doing your best not to look like a flying buffet, so on second thought, let’s not go there.
The Continent (Witcher)
There’s not much to recommend about this land: it’s crawling with monsters, the only ones who can fight the monsters effectively are the mutated human “Witchers”, who are feared and disliked by most everyone else. The humans are the dominant race and force the non-humans to live in ghettos, or in monster-infested wilderness. The totalitarian Nilfgaardian Empire, which regards other nations as uncivilized subhumans, is expanding through means of brutal and violent conquest. There’s a corrupt church, various cults, nobles abusing commoners, political backstabbing, ongoing and hellish wars, and if you survive all the way through that, a plague of Black Death proportions starts after the end of the story, and apparently there’s an oncoming Ice Age. The one person in the story with the power to travel between worlds basically throws up their hands and leaves for good.
Pretty much anywhere in the Song of Ice and Fire series (A Song of Ice and Fire)
Anyone watching the Game of Thrones HBO show is pretty aware of how terrible the world is. Your choices seem to be between Westeros, which is embroiled in a bloody conflict between the North and the South...oh, and is about to be invaded by the nigh-unstoppable and supernatural White Walkers - or the lands off to the East, which apparently specialize in new and inventive ways to torture slaves (can we get you an army of traumatized eunuchs? some crucified slave children perhaps?). Rape and torture are rampant everywhere - captives of war, arranged marriages, unfortunate peasants who happen to be in the way of marauding bands of soldiers. Think you might be safer in the nobility? Nope! Assassinations are also popular (especially at weddings), and the noblemen are expected to fight with the rest of the troops. If you do find yourself in Westeros, try to make your way to Dorne - it’s geographically isolated enough from both east and west that it’s largely managed to avoid being dragged into the current conflicts. Also, the food sounds delicious.