Top Ten Fantasy Worlds. Compiled by ARWZ Editors

Over a hundred fictional worlds vied for placement on our latest list, the Top 10 Fantasy Worlds, and the victor enjoyed the largest margain of victory yet in our Top 10 projects. Most surprising, even to our editors, was the enthusiasm of voters for cross-genre worlds, and those more commonly labeled science fiction than fantasy; we can only guess that genre categories are becoming more fluid in the minds of alternative reality readers. Disparate worlds from the classics and the contemporary, from literature, film and television competed for the top slots as ARWZ readers and associates voted for their favorite fantasy milieus. Alternative reality fans from all over the world placed their votes for the most absorbing, entrancing and richly drawn worlds, voicing their opinions toward this final list. Participating voters were drawn both from ARWZ readership and from the membership of our Associate Pages. Our thanks to all participants.

Each voter submitted a list of ten (10) worlds. Ranked votes were weighted according to the numerical rank assigned to each film (1. got 10 points, 2. got 9 points, etc.). Some voters preferred not to rank their lists, and the items of their lists were attributed five points each. Voters were also invited to provide commentary on the worlds included in their lists. As much as possible, that commentary has been included for the Top Ten. But the discussion doesn't end there. If you would like to comment on this list, please feel free to join the discussion on our forums, or to send us a Letter to the Editor with your comments. If you would like to participate in our latest Top 10 List, to be published on ARWZ Literary Zine in a future feature article, please visit the official ARWZ Top 10 page to see what we're woking on next.

Top 10 Fantasy Worlds

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Middle Earth
1. Middle Earth from The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien

"Perhaps the pre-eminent fantasy work of the twentieth century." - Golophin

"Yes, over-rated in many ways, but who can argue Tolkein's actual achievement? Thanks to Gary Gygax and the rest of the Dungeons and Dragons crew, Robert Plant's goofy "tribute" lyrics, and now New Line and Peter Jackson, we are all sick to death of gorgeous elves and dwarf tossing humor, but that can't take away Tolkein's monumental creation. When it comes to making a Fantasy world so complete that it's damn close to real—Tolkein is still the master." - ljim

"It certainly deserves to be in any Fantasy World top ten, all other fantasy worlds created since then owe it an awful lot." - Custer

"Without a doubt it is one of the most influential worlds created. It is the birthplace of almost all fantasy. Its influence has been too great to be ignored." - Doug Gogerty

"The history is woven in more seamlessly (with some exceptions) than a lot of the other huge trilogies, and its influence is so massive. Of course, a lot of people have tried to copy it, but they never sense the autumnal melancholy that surrounds it. " - RHowse

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2. Arrakis from Dune by Frank Herbert

"The universe in Dune was fantastic, but the details of Arrakis really made the story." - Hanasían

"A complex world on different levels. It gives food for thought." - Ian

"I know a lot of people would argue that it's sci-fi, but to me it feels a hell of a lot more like fantasy. And the world is just so detailed, even if you only count the first book it's miles beyond just about anything else." - Ted

"Deceptively simple in concept, yet Herbert explored every single aspect of it he could find." - RHowse

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Star Trek: TNG
3. Star Trek Universe from Star Trek by Gene Roddenberry

"All you have to do is look at Sci-Fi before and Sci-Fi after to notice the difference. The influence from 1965 on has been felt." - DougGogerty

"A very positive take on the future." - Ian

"Not always internally consistent, but it's vast and deserves recognition." - RHowse

"The whole universe is well thought out including the Federation and the differences between the cultures of the Romulans, Vulcans, Cardassians, etc." - Hanasían

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Game of Thrones
4. Westeros, the Seven Kingdoms from Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin

"There is lots going on, and plenty of room to explore." - DougGogerty

"Martin's world of the Seven Kingdoms is a fantasy world that is acutally changing as the story progresses. The good guys finish last and bad men use their willingness to do evil to get ahead, and both think it is worth it. Something both realistic and rare in fantasy." - Ted

"A refreshing view of a low magic Fantasy world." - Manan

"Another fine fantasy creation with memorable characters and desciptions." - Golophin

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5. Discworld from the Discworld novels by Terry Pratchett

"The world is certainly a massive invention, and has been seen on television, in comics, and in a huge selection of faux-china ornaments at a store near you. It may be laugh-out-loud funny, but Terry makes you care about his characters and their adventures." - Custer

"A world carried on the backs of four elephants which are standing on a giant turtle swimming through space. These stories started as a satire of the Swords and Sorcery genre, but have matured into something more thoughtful. It serves as a funhouse mirror through which Pratchett reflects our own times, culture, and mores, with sometimes poignant, more often hilarious results. They have remained just about the funniest things being written in English today." - pecooper

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Darkwar Saga
5. Midkemia from Magician, etc. by Raymond E. Feist

"For all of Feist's failings as a writer of innovative and inventive fiction, he is a story-teller nonpareil and his world reflects that. Watching Midkemia evolve over the years has been an interesting exercise." - Johnnycab

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Swords in the Mist
5. Nehwon from the Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser stories by Fritz Leiber

"The setting of the picaresque adventures of Fafhrd and The Grey Mouser, two swashbuckling heroes with a sly anti-heroic twist. Nehwon, perhaps, exists in a bubble in an infinite ocean. Leiber was the one who coined the phrase Swords and Sorcery to describe what he wrote." - pecooper

"This is probably my most pure Fantasy favorite. There is no technology or inter-dimensional physics which makes Nehwon hold together, it's just pure magic and even moreso pure adventure. The world is the perfect backdrop for Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser to get into all manner of trouble and despite being rather scoundrelesque on certain levels, never seem like anything but heroes in a myth." - ljim

"For sheer's the exact antithesis of the Tolkien mold, with no maps, no quests, just an empty void where Leiber could throw whatever interesting twist he wanted at them." - RHowse

"Be prepared for some strange, memorable adventures!" - Custer

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Chronicles of Narnia
8. Narnia from Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis

"Lewis, along with Tolkien, created the model for fantasy being epic that continues today. For a fantasy series to survive more than one or two books, the world has to be detailed and interesting. This is both and more." - Ted

"C. S. Lewis' series captivated me as a kid and thirty or so years on, they still have that magic." - Johnnycab

"A really good family adventure story set in a spiritual world to be interpreted as you take it." - Ian

"A classic of fantasy and children's fiction by a contemporary of J.R.R. Tolkien." - Golophin

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Star Wars
9. Star Wars Galaxy from Star Wars by George Lucas

"Different times. Different worlds. But ordinary people." - Ian

"It was a long time ago, and far, far away, but the Galaxy George Lucas created is full of memorable planets and characters, and has now, thanks to books, games and more, progressed long beyond the six movies." - Custer

"Who didn't get their first taste of the fantastic here?" - Ted

"The Star Wars Galaxy is the celestial realm where George Lucas transplanted Farie Land. It is a wide and colorful stage upon which the ancient folk tales of our culture can be replayed." - pecooper

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Book of New Sun
10. Urth from Book of New Sun by Gene Wolfe

"A baroque vison of the far future, a memorable mixture of images, horror and wonder." - Golophin

"It is in truth our Earth, but far in our future, possibly millions of years, at a time when our sun is slowly dying. Urth's first phase was our own time and the second a time when humanity had voyaged to the stars and the planet was under the rule of machine-based intelligences. Urth in the third phase is populated not only by humans, but also by genetically designed creatures which combine aspects of Urth animals and extra-terrestrial species, along with alien intelligences (most notably the Hierodules) which have been influencing mankind's development for hundreds of years. Severian was raised by the acolytes of the Order of Truth and Penitence, the autarchs' jailers and torturers, and the Citadel in which he lived and worked was actually the remnants of an ancient starship. There are many more instances of such incongruities throughout the books, the medieval-like setting juxtaposed with other-worldly objects and beings. At the conclusion of the tale, when Severian has brought about the transformation of the New Sun, Urth is also transformed and is henceforth known as Ushas." - ecgordon

And by popular demand, here are further results of the vote for the sake of reader interest:

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Chronicles of Amber
11. The Wheel of Time world from Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan

12. Bas Lag from Perdido Street Station, The Scar, etc. by China Mieville

13. Amber from Chronicles of Amber by Roger Zelazny

13. Sunnydale, CA and the Buffyverse from Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel by Joss Whedon

13. Oz from The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum

16. Hyborian Age from Conan and Kull by Robert E. Howard

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Wizard of Earthsea
17. Earthsea from The Wizard of Earthsea and sequels by Ursula K. LeGuin

17. Eärwa from Prince of Nothing by R. Scott Bakker

17. Drenai from The Drenai Saga by David Gemmell

20. Witch World from Witch World by Andre Norton

21. Hogwarts and the world of Harry Potter from the Harry Potter, etc. by J.K. Rowling

21. The Dying Earth from The Dying Earth series by Jack Vance

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Curse of Chalion
21. Five Gods Universe from Curse of Chalion, etc. by Lois McMaster Bujold

24. Foundation from Foundation novels by Isaac Asimov

24. Wonderland from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll

26. Kelewan from Empire trilogy by Raymond E. Feist & Janny Wurts

26. Mars from Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury

28. Ancient China from Bridge of Birds, etc. by Barry Hughart

28. The world of Dark Crystal from Dark Crystal by Jim Henson

28. Jaran from the novels of Jaran by Kate Elliott

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28. Lyonesse from The Lyonesse Trilogy by Jack Vance

28. The Malazan Empire from The Malazan Books of the Fallen by Steven Erikson

28. Ranadon from Second Sons by Jennifer Fallon

28. The Cthulhu Mythos from The Lurking Fear, etc. by H.P. Lovecraft

28. The Earth circa 802701 AD from Time Machine by H.G. Wells

28. The Imperium of Man from Warhammer 40000 by various authors

28. The Twelve Kingdoms from Deryni Rising, etc. by Katherine Kurtz

28. The World of Guild Wars from Guild Wars by various authors

39. Dragaera from Vlad Taltos series, etc. by Steven Brust

39. Osten Ard from Memory, Sorrow and Thorn by Tad Williams

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End of Time
39. The End of Time from The End of Time by Tad Williams

39. The North, South and Glittering Plain from Chronicles of the Black Company by Glen Cook

39. The Old World from Warhammer by various authors

39. The dimensions of Sluggy Freelance from Sluggy Freelance by Pete Adams

45. Barsoom from The Martian Tales by Edgar Rice Burroughs

45. Pern from Dragonriders of Pern by Anne McCaffrey

45. Polity Universe from Polity novels by Neal Asher

45. The Dream Realms from Dream Quest to Unknown Kadath by H.P. Lovecraft

45. The World of Two Moons from Elfquest by Wendy and Richard Pini

45. Hythria from Hythrun Chronicles by Jennifer Fallon

45. Paksenarrion's World from Deed of Paksenarrion by Elizabeth Moon