Thursday, June 16, 2011

Completely Immersed

An announcement was made this week that a third Dragon Age book will be coming out (hopefully) later this year. As with the first two, the book will be written by David Gaider, who was the lead writer for the Dragon Age games (as well as a slew of other Bioware titles). The first two books were extremely spiffy, as I believe I have mentioned here before, so I'm sure you can imagine how excited this news makes me. The third book, titled Asunder, will tie in with the events of Dragon Age II. (Which, by the way, I finished last night, go me!)

This news, plus renewed chatter from Felicia Day about her forthcoming Dragon Age web-series (squee!), got me thinking (again) about how immersive the best science fiction and fantasy worlds are. If you have ever wondered why SFF fans are so completely into whatever they are fans of, I truly believe this is the reason. The amount of work that goes into creating these universes is staggering. There's enough there to allow the fans to actually imagine themselves within the world having their own adventures, with or without the "main" characters of the game or movie or show or what have you.

For my money, these are the top three most immersive SFF universes, the ones I want to just keep playing in and never come out:

Number 3: Star Wars
The really, truly, wonderfully cool thing about the Star Wars universe is that it goes so far beyond the central three (or six) stories. Beyond that handful of characters that everyone knows so well, whether they think themselves fans of Star Wars or science fiction at all. The expanded universe, both canon and not, extends for thousands of years before and after the original trilogy. There really are stories enough there to fill the entire galaxy that Lucas dreamed up way back when. Even with the tight reins he keeps on his sandbox, there is still more than enough room for everyone to play. Pick your flavor: Jedi? Mandalorian? Bounty Hunter? Smuggler? Sith? Clone? Imperial? Rebel? X-Wing Pilot? What era do you want to visit? There's a book or a game out there that will let you experience pretty much any story you might be craving.

Number 2: Stargate
Okay, one and two on this list are very closely placed, I'll grant you. With Stargate I can immerse myself completely in the story and the mythology of it all and, I won't lie, frequently imagine I am stationed on Atlantis butting heads with McKay on a daily basis. There are many, many books, most of them very well written. I hope Fandemonium keeps producing them for years to come. Big Finish Audio also produced two series of audio dramas, read/performed by the actor who portrayed the character each story is about. That's just darn cool. Then there's the fan fiction. That's a whole different kind of playground, but still a fun one. While the shows sparked no shortage of imaginations, everything is still so centrally linked to the main characters of whichever show one prefers. This isn't a bad thing, granted, what made Stargate so enduring was its amazing and memorable characters. I will be very curious to see if this doesn't expand a bit now that all of the shows are off the air. It would be lovely to see a (canonical) Stargate expanded universe that could grow to the size of the Star Wars EU. But even if that never happens, there is still the already mentioned fanfic. Some of those writers have already started telling stories about the next generation of 'gaters. Still, Stargate does come in at number two because, in the end, fiction though it may be, it is still set in a world that very closely resembles our own. It just isn't quite enough of an escape.

Number 1: Dragon Age
Of course. Oh, come on. Did you really think this was gonna be anything else? You know I have to really love this world to put it above the all-awesome Stargate. As I've said before, there is something about the world of Thedas that just draws me in. I am like a fish that saw something shiny and when I went to investigate, found myself being reeled in to shore. It seems more than likely I'll be getting a new, Dragon Age-related tattoo before the summer is out. I am already thinking about when I'll get my next chance to play it again. Sadly, that won't be any time soon. But hopefully the web-series and the new book can tide me over until I can get back. After all, we are only forty years into the Dragon Age itself, which leaves us another sixty to play around with. That's gotta be at least two or three more games, right?

I know I am not alone in this--the fandoms just these three universes have ignited are proof alone of that. But I also know there are so many more fandoms out there. Do any of you have a world that you just dive into head first? Where do you go to play, knowing full well you're likely to get lost, and being more than a little okay with that fact?

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