Destination X.

Hello, ‘crawlsters.  I would like to solicit your input on the following (utterly hypothetical) question:

If, sometime in the next year, you could send me somewhere on this planet— somewhere from which I’d be obligated to report back on my experiences— where would it be?

Probably out of the running, sadly.

Probably not, sadly.

Some conditions apply. I would not willingly go to the bottom of an unstable mine shaft, for example. The destination would have to be reasonably accessible— no lengthy Himalayan foot-treks to lost valleys, and I’m pretty sure low earth orbit is out of the running (although the ISS would be awesome). I don’t speak Portuguese or Hadzane or, really, any language other than this one here—  so if there were people there, some of them would have to be Anglophones. Finally, it can’t be anywhere in the USA. Much as I’d love to check out that country’s steroidally-overmilitarized police forces, clownish electoral politics— maybe even get one of those three-mass-shootings-or-your-money-back tourist packages— I’m not actually allowed into the country. (Which may well have added a few years to my expected lifespan, at least until the extrajudicial drone-strike program spreads north.)

Other than that, though, I’m open to suggestions.  Again, purely hypothetically.

I was thinking, maybe hitch a ride to a hydrothermal vent…


P.S. Also, it can’t be the location of some con which I would be attending anyway.

This entry was written by Peter Watts , posted on Wednesday February 24 2016at 07:02 am , filed under just putting it out there... . Bookmark the permalink . Post a comment below or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

70 Responses to “Destination X.”

  1. Transnistria (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transnistria) has an interesting eye-of-the-apocalypse thing going on. A visit there could be research for upcoming global events.

  2. Cartagena, Colombia.

  3. Israel, please!
    There are a lot of interesting things going on here both culturally and
    scientifically, people are warm and curious and the food’s great.

    Regarding the conflict – the occupation and oppression of the Palestinian people is terrible and depressing, but on the bright side, a lot of people from multiple sides of the conflict (myself included) would be happy to provide you with nuanced perspectives of it, give you interesting tours of disputed areas and share their experience and thoughts.

    Also, I owe you a beer.

  4. Come to Scotland. We’re among the most cynical, negative people on Earth. There has got to be good writing in that.

  5. It’s hard to morally justify recommending somebody with your… mixed relationship with luck take a trip to an exotic and potentially dangerous location for our amusement, but, as long as it was hypothetical, err, Chernobyl? An undersea vent would be pretty cool too.

  6. Cuba. There aren’t a lot of anglophones there (outside of the resorts, which I am NOT suggesting), but you should manage to get by with the help of a phrasebook and patience.

    It is a fascinating place, genuinely *different* in all sorts of ways. Yes, it is a very poor country, but it’s not desperately poor; no one is mutilating children to make them more “attractive” beggars. Indeed, we met only one (1!) panhandler during our 9-day visit.

    And despite the fact you need to show a (foreign) passport in order to access the internet, no one seems to be afraid of the cops on the streets. Indeed, people talk to cops and wave at them like they are friends, not oppressors.

    Long story short, it’s different, it’s safe (at least Santa Clara and Havana seemed so to us and we did little but walk) and if you go soon you can see it before American money changes everything. But bring toilet paper and soap!

    And to toot my own horn, I wrote rather extensively about my experience there last December. http://ed-rex.com/cuba-visit2015, though you might be particularly interested Security Theatre of the Absurd at http://www.ed-rex.com/cuba-visit2015/000_security_theatre.

    P.S. You’ve probably forgotten, but I haven’t. I owe you an email, which has been waiting on my review of *Echopraxia* – which has been waiting on … whatever the hell it is which has seen my ability to review things nearly dry up completely. Maybe this post-scriptum will dislodge the blockage on both.

  7. Well, I’m the winter caretaker for the château de St Dau http://www.chateaudesaintdau.com/ until sometime next month, you’re welcome to come by for a few days with the family, plenty of space.

  8. You could stay home and report to us by video as the Canuck Squat Cobbler.

  9. Some ideas:

    *Antarctica* – tourist travel to the bottom of the planet is pricey, but it’s the kind of place that wants to kill you as soon as you step out of the confines of a cozy airplane. That’s gotta be worth a few words.

    Australia – tourist travel to the bottom of the planet is pricey, but it’s the kind of place that wants to kill you as soon as you step out of the confines of a cozy airplane. Yes, just like Antarctica.

    North Korea – want to write some fucked-up dystopian sci-fi? This is where you do your research.

    South Korea – This is the more fun Korea, with K-Pop and Kimchee. Plus, a huge white guy like yourself is going to have some interesting interactions with the locals.

    Iceland – I was planning to go there myself last year, but plans fell through. Of all my suggestions so far, this might be the most do-able (in terms of prices & access). Plus, a large percentage of Icelanders believe in the existence of elves. Seriously. Look it up.

    India – Want to see what the world will look like after a massive population explosion? Go to India. Don’t forget to take your weapons-grade antibiotics because India has a huge problem with people shitting on the street.

    Vietnam – This would be a very enjoyable vacation for you and the BUG, I think. Warm, tropical, exotic and lush, while relatively inexpensive. Plus, there’s the whole huge white guy thing.

    Tibet – Peter Watts visits a Buddhist Monastery. Film at eleven.

    Vatican City – Canadian author convinces Pope Francis that God is a lie. Pope goes on 5 day bender with said author. Current whereabouts unknown.

    I think this is enough to get you started.

  10. Singapore.

  11. Find the closest thing to the Bicameral Order as possible, then go live with them. A monastery of sorts perhaps?

  12. ~30 nautical miles off the coast of Texas, in international waters; roughly, here: http://imgur.com/cBMluak Escorted, naturally, by a modest Royal Navy detachment for your own safety; I’ll meet you there so we can have some good old fashioned perogies like grandma used to make.

  13. If you take Adam’s suggestion of Israel, may I suggest heading to Eilat and crossing from there into Egypt. Head south to Dahab for some of the world’s clearest diving. The reefs are probably still pretty good, too, but it’s been a while (the cab ride from Taba to Dahab was less than $20 – I think much less, but I don’t want to oversell it).

    They’ve blown stuff up all down the coast, but only once or twice. It may be safe. Dahab was a nicely chill place a few years back – hopefully still hotel/fast food-chain free. Check out the lights of small town Saudi across the gulf in the evening and imagine the fun they’re having compared to the backbackers in Dahab… English is widely spoken, the beer is good, and the Nescafe is, well, Nescafe… Liquors such as Black Table are available, and best avoided, although drinking some on a day trip to Mount Sinai may help you see a burning bush, if it doesn’t blind you.

  14. I have always wanted to visit Fordlandia, I would be interested in your take on the location.

    https://vimeo.com/33572264

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fordl%C3%A2ndia

  15. Phil Talisman:
    If you take Adam’s suggestion of Israel, may I suggest heading to Eilat and crossing from there into Egypt. Head south to Dahab for some of the world’s clearest diving. The reefs are probably still pretty good, too, but it’s been a while

    I went on a diving safari a few years back in the Sinai desert (the photo I use in my avatar was taken there). The reefs are, indeed, amazing, but I hear the Egyptian authorities have had a lot of trouble with ISIS and other insurgents recently.
    A few days ago I was near the Egyptian border and heard quite a few explosions and possibly gunfire, and while that’s anecdotal, I do think the Sinai desert is a bit hot right now, even by local standards, so I don’t know if I’d recommend it right now, although generally speaking – YES. Sinai is amazing.
    There are some really nice diving spots in Eilat, though, and some even nicer ones in Aqaba.

  16. Antarctica, closest to visiting another planet.

  17. If you don’t mind going a little further afield, how about a trip to Big Ben? (https://www.caltech.edu/news/caltech-researchers-find-evidence-real-ninth-planet-49523)

  18. I’m surprised people didn’t immediately reply Antarctica right away. Only two other people suggested it?!

    I’d say Antarctica and I donated money to send Idle Words there and would for you as well.

    That’s my first suggestion.

    Maybe you could head to Aukland university to say hi to the research group there that studies New Caledonian crows and then visit the island in New Caledonia where they do field research.

    Or… vomit comet.

  19. other suggestion is to visit Snowden whereever he is.

  20. +1 for Iceland
    they might have a pirate party government soon. Would love to hear from on the ground reportage how that goes

  21. You like oceanography, yeah? Maybe give the Great Barrier Reef a visit before the Australian government and the mining companies kill it off completely…

  22. Come visit me in Nigeria and I’ll introduce you to some local vampires.

  23. Go to China and visit Cixin Liu. With prior arrangement, you can find folks who speak English and help with translation.

    Asian culture and settings are largely absent from your work, so far, perhaps because you’ve no direct exposure to them?

    [Apologies if I’m wrong, and you’ve already been to Asia.]

  24. Seruko,

    Singapore is essentially a large shopping mall. Completely boring.

  25. Tokyo if you haven’t been. Nearest thing to visiting an alien culture you’ll ever get.

  26. Svalbard/Longyearbyen (Norway)– no one to talk to except polar bears, yet more accessible than Antarctica. People who like under-water solitude will feel right at home in this white desert. Fresh vegetables in the hotel restaurant depending on the weather. Semi-abandoned Russian coal mines! The Global Seed Vault (probably doesn’t take visitors?)

  27. Adam Etzion,

    Joining the motion and the beer offering! :)

    P.S.
    I have a spare bedroom and not entirely abysmally uncomfortable couch in it – a humble but genuine offer.

    Vova

  28. Well, as much as I’d love to show you around Korea, I guess before the Land of the Morning Calm I would have to recommend:

    1) Mongolia. Crazy place, great people (I know English speakers, if you need connections).
    2) Some place connected to an ocean vent. In the “Ring of Fire” in the South Pacific, perhaps, around the Philippines?
    3) Morocco
    4) Or, for something really wild and exotic, Acton. Might be hard finding English-speakers there, though.

  29. Oh, Greece! Lots to see and see, and I’d be interested in your take on all the old shit. Would it stir up some long-dormant optimism inside you (at the things humanity can accomplish), or send your cynicism into overdrive (at how even the best accomplishments can so utterly fade). Plus it would tie in nicely to your wife’s most recent books.

  30. Kamchatka?

  31. Adam Etzion,

    Gunfire doesn’t sound good. That’s too bad. Israel’s great, though, I agree.

    In another direction, the arctic might be worth seeing before it melts. Likewise the Maldives before they submerge. (I haven’t been to either, but I think the Maldives are warmer.)

  32. The ISS, for certain sure. Go ahead, send in the app. I bet they’d at least call you. Just don’t tell ’em about the border thing. *looks swiftly left and right*

  33. Or you could try the ESA. heh heh.

  34. Go to Barbados and examine what colonies look like when Empires pull out, return and hire their ex subjects as tourist workers. Then go scuba diving.

  35. Teruel, (a place most famous by its slogan): “it exists”

  36. Teruel, it exists!

  37. While I personally have never set foot beyond the bounds of the United States, the Painted Mountains of Gansu look like a breathtakingly psychedelic thing to see: http://travel.spotcoolstuff.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/zhangye-danxia-china-1.jpg

    Though I don’t know how expensive an interpreter would be.

    A much more practical option would be Malta – especially if you can find your way into The Hypogeum: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hypogeum_of_%C4%A6al-Saflieni

    And least practical of all (I would think) would be The Ark of Bukhara: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ark_of_Bukhara, which appears to have transplanted on our lonely little world from the wastes of Tattooine

  38. New Zealand.

    Like Australia, exotic wildlife and scenery, English speaking inhabitants.

    Advantages over Australia: far less of the wildlife is deadly poisonous, and everything is much closer together so you can spend less time travelling.

    Also a country where it is legal to hurl people from great heights attached to a rubber band, and to float small children onto lakes in clear plastic bubbles. If you’re into that sort of thing.

  39. Antarctica

    If you decide you want to go there, I have a friend who works as staff at one of the research stations who I could introduce you to.

  40. The “Chaos Communication Congress” in Germany is the biggest hacker/nerd convention outside of the US. Last year, there were 13 thousand participants. Talks could be submitted for eight different categories, only two of which were strictly technical. However, the most outstanding feature of the event is its “hallway track”. You walk around and get into the most amazing discussions with geeks and nerds of every persuasion. Next to the official program, there are a boatload of self-organized workshops about nearly everything under the sun. Here is a taste from last year: https://events.ccc.de/congress/2015/wiki/Static:Self-organized_Sessions (and I encourage you to click around the wiki as well)

    Maybe I should mention that for instance the entire “quadcopter revolution” was arguably sparked at the 2006(!) edition of the congress, where one hacker (Steini) demonstrated a commercial quadcopter prototype he had obtained, originally intended for military use. In his talk, he urged the community to develop an open source version to hopefully create enough of a precedent for private use early enough so that drones would be less likely to be kept out of private ownership by future legislation. Not even half a year later, the first open source quadcopters flew and suddenly everyone wanted one. I guess what I’m saying is: if you want to know where society may be headed, technology-wise, you could do worse than put an ear to the street at congress. I also saw my first hobbyist 3D printer there, about 8 years ago.

    My favorite thing from last year however was a cozy corner where some people had installed a bunch of bookshelves and couches and absolutely STUFFED it with SciFi. And thus I hung around there for hours one day, talking quietly with like-minded people about terraforming Mars.

    And the best of all: there is no commercial venture behind all this and no corporate sponsorship whatsoever. (It’s not as if companies wouldn’t scramble to fund the event but the chaos computer club that organizes the event flat out refuses any kind of endorsement like this.) Just a bunch of hackers trying their hands at event management. And the price is still cheap. ~100 Euros for all 4 days.

    The Chaos Communication Congress takes place each year between Christmas and new year’s eve (typically between the 27th and 30th of December).

    Finally, here are a bunch of impressions from last year, the 32rd congress aka 32c3: http://img.fnor.de/events/2015-32C3

    (And before you object that you’d feel out of place: You won’t. We German hackers are an extremely inclusive stinking leftist bunch. Last years keynote(!) was held by a refugee from Africa with no technical background whatsoever. In 2011 the keynote was given by Cory Doctorow though ;))

  41. I think equatorial Africa would be a good place to send you. You could trek across the equator starting from west to east. You could start your trek in Equatorial Guinea, go through the Congo, and pop out in Kenya. Then you could go diving for coelacanths of the coast of Kenya.

    This would be an amazing trip for a dystopian science fiction author. Think of the tropical diseases you could get and then write about what it would be like to experience them first hand. There is also lots of political instability to experience amongst the human population you encounter, which again could provide more story fodder. You’ll witness the richest ecosystems on the planet in conflict with an impoverished human population and corrupt political system which will give you some rich themes and plot ideas.

  42. Bhutan, as the place on Earth with a philosophy most diametrically opposed to your base state, would make for some great dramatic tension. Plus, I’d like your read on the place that tends its Gross Domestic Happiness quotient instead of its Gross Domestic Product…

  43. All movement is futile, narcissitic and ego-maniacal. Stay in your home and contemplate the socio-bio-chemical causal chains prompting the seeking of motion.

  44. Visit Prague! It’s a very beautiful city with a long rich history and we’d be much honored if you did something like completely destroy it in Intelligent Design or any other future story. It’s also got great (and cheap) beer. And lots of fans of your fiction if you wanted to interact with them. The university is also beautiful and one of the oldest in the world. A tour around it, with special emphasis on the Faculty of Science, could be arranged.

    There are also many more interesting places in the Czech Republic. Kutna Hora and Cesky Krumlov from the perspective of history and architecture, Krkonose Mountains with many relict species from the last glacial period, Sumava Mountains with its forests…
    Additionally, many places around Prague and elsewhere are good for collecting fossils (mostly cephalopods and crinoids, although if you’re lucky, you can find trilobites as well), although I have to admit that many places in Canada would be more interesting from this perspective.

    I must admit that competing with Antarctica, Svalbard or Kamchatka is pretty tough, but although Prague (or any other place in the Czech Republic) doesn’t possess that kind of breathtaking wilderness and exciting scientific opportunities, it would be much cheaper ;).

  45. Coral Bay, Western Australia – if you ever get there, you’ll understand why. Tiny beach town cluster of lights perched on the edge of the Indian ocean with the Ningaloo reef paddling distance just offshore and a scrub hinterland behind crossed by blacktop highways right out of Mad Max 2. Sea full of coral, rays, giant clams, sharks, you name it. On land – big lizards, lethal snakes, kangaroos at dusk and scary spiders weaving crazy webs. Searing heat during the day, magical sense of isolation and huddling against the dark at night, massive brilliant star-filled skies and sunsets to die for. Exmouth is just up the coast, backing onto the Cape Range national park and offering trips out to swim with whale sharks plus (different season) whale watching. Great seafood and fish restaurants all over the place. And western Australians are, generally, a pretty awesome bunch.

    Spent about five weeks on that coast back in 2009 – could very happily have extended for a solid year. If there were a University of Coral Bay, I’d be begging for a Writer in Residence post – with tenure!

  46. Go to Iceland.

  47. I’ll second Mongolia — but wait until summer. Mongolians envy the mild winters of Siberia :-)

    Going to a country without borders (once you leave the cities) is amazing. You can go anywhere, without worrying about who owns the land. Probably better to avoid areas with Canadian mining companies, who have damaged our reputation :-(

    I know a great English-speaking guide who loves philosophy…

    Another possibility would be China. Interesting experience, being illiterate :-/ I’ve got English-speakign nieces who could help you out (and know a couple of great tour companies).

    Would you be hypothetically taking the kids? A horseback camping trip in Mongolia would be a great hypothetical birthday present :-)

  48. Unrelated but saw you mentioned in this article about how we don’t actually “see” things like we think we do. http://www.popularmechanics.com/cars/motorcycles/a19641/why-you-dont-see-motorcycles-on-the-road/

  49. Enan Emoose:
    Go to Iceland.

    Yes! Peter’s behind-the-scenes of Hannibal was such fun, maybe he could go check out the sets for Fortitude, too.

  50. so, where are you going on vacation Peter?

  51. How about an abandoned whaling station?

    http://io9.gizmodo.com/8-abandoned-antarctic-whaling-stations-and-bases-that-a-471066973

    Or Rockall, everybody’s favourite rock in the middle of nowhere?

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rockall

  52. oh R’lyeh maybe?
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/R'lyeh

  53. I hear North Sentinel Island is lovely.

  54. So is this going to be a Kickstarter or what? “Send Your Humble Scribe to the Ends of the Earth”

    Stretch Goal 1: … and Bring Him Back!
    Stretch Goal 2: Safely!

  55. How about SNOLAB in Sudbury? Physics not bio, but cool nonetheless.

  56. If it were not in Texas — arguably not actually the same country as the USA although entirely within the borders of the States — I would suggest that Our Gracious Host should get a technical tour of, and somehow contrive to squat for a few months within, the semi-abandoned and mostly subterranean semi-ruins of the Superconducting Super Collider, a really huge accelerator ring that was almost operational before the funding got yanked for reasons so stupid that despite having researched this several times, I am unable to remember them. One reasonably presumes that such incredibly stupid reasons could not be based in any known reality, and that thus those reasons are due to the discovery of some unknown reality accessible only through the aforementioned subterranean accelerator. Etc etc.

    But sadly we cannot send Dr Watts there, although I suspect that this would inspire plenty of seriously dismal dismay of humanity’s better nature or notable lack thereof. Besides, it’s dangerous; he might throw a few switches and re-power the damned thing and finally discover the fermion of partisan dimness or something, and just in time to throw our elections. Or he could figure out why a pharmacy company with a GMO division bought probably the world’s largest non-governmental and non-NGO owned particle acceleration facility. Or all of the above. 😉

    Maybe he could follow in the footsteps of greatness and re-discover Tuva.

  57. I would say Argentina. It’s a really interesting country with a wide variety of culture, climates and people. Lets say that we have from european standards of living to the slums like the ones you describe on behemoth and everything in between and more in any dimension imaginable (sorry for the typo with βehemoth).
    As an added bonus I can contact you with the country’s hacker scene and if you wish I could arrange a talk with some goberment officials if your want.
    As an added bonus I would be very proud if you visit to my coutry :-D.

    Saludos!

  58. Ukraine or Russia, obviously. George Orwell is here, to be sure.
    They are not as exotical as Asian or African countries, no parrots, monkeys or tigers, though the last ones may be present according to the well-known Bradbury’s short story.
    It’s just a wild mix of dystopian influence on the people, police countries not-so-far-away-from-civilization, but still on their long way to the prosperity. Here you can see people fighting for new IPhones and then writing a report on their neighbours due to the fact they are watching american news, innovational conferences and robotics along with the riots on streets. Sad countries to live but very interesting to visit.
    Reasonably cheap and easy to get via buses, cars, trains or planes. Seriosly, great choice.
    I’m from Ukraine myself, now live in Toronto, Canada. Only now I understand that we were surviving and someone just forgot to say us that dystiopian future and a ghost of USSR were here after all this time.

  59. I want to read how you vomited on a Jaguar. Go take Ayahuasca in the Amazonian jungle.

  60. Lower your lifespan in the most cyberpunky city in China you can find

  61. Antarctica resembles Mars in many ways, but that’s not where the people actually trying out Mars-related-ideas send their misfits. The lunatics who most want to get to Mars, in cooperation with some others, run the bare-bones facilities at the Haughton Impact Crater on Devon Island. You wouldn’t even have to leave Canada! Round-trip airfare (Toronto – Resolute Bay – Devon Island, last leg by Twin Otter) would run around $5000-$7000.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haughton_impact_crater

    I landed there at midnight one not-night in the summer of 2008, and got a picture of a prototype Mars Habitat.
    https://flic.kr/p/9vqy1Q
    If the picture doesn’t show up or the link gets eaten by an anti-spambot, just imagine Mars with a blue sky.

  62. John From GR:
    Transnistria (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transnistria) has an interesting eye-of-the-apocalypse thing going on. A visit there could be research for upcoming global events.

    I’m ashamed to admit I didn’t even know Moldovia was a country— I thought it was one of those made-up European countries in the Marvel universe where everyone was a ruddy-faced shopkeeper who existed mainly to get eaten by an AI— until someone from Moldovia friended me on facebook. And I’d never even heard of Transnistria before now…

    EthicsGradient:
    Come to Scotland. We’re among the most cynical, negative people on Earth. There has got to be good writing in that.

    Don’t you guys already have Charlie Stross? And Richard Morgan? Aren’t they cynical enough for you?

    Geoffrey Dow: Cuba. There aren’t a lot of anglophones there (outside of the resorts, which I am NOT suggesting), but you should manage to get by with the help of a phrasebook and patience.

    Sadly, on my one trip to Cuba I noticed the cats were extremely skittish. Something about many of them having been eaten during the rougher days of the embargo.

    curtislynn: I have always wanted to visit Fordlandia, I would be interested in your take on the location.

    That’s pretty cool. I myself actually used to live in a different Fordlandia, at least until our mayor got booted out of office in the last election. If he hadn’t been, I suspect our Fordlandia would have ended up faring no better than the Brazilian one…

  63. Roland Dobbins: Asian culture and settings are largely absent from your work, so far, perhaps because you’ve no direct exposure to them?

    No, you’re right: it’s a serious geopolitical failing on my part. In fact, back when I was writing the rifters trilogy, I realized that there was no way I could describe the collapse of civilization without mentioning an entity as important as China— but rather than actually do enough research to explore that avenue, I took the easy way out and just said that when everything started going south China disappeared behind Great Wall 2.0, and anyone approaching with 20km of its borders go shot down by automated defenses.

    In my defense, I’m so geopolitically ignorant about that part of the world that I’d have probably fucked it up completely anyway, unless I spent years and years on research.

    Mark Russell: Oh, Greece! Lots to see and see, and I’d be interested in your take on all the old shit.

    Going to Greece anyway this year, just on vacation. This has got to be someplace else.

    Dr.No: Teruel, (a place most famous by its slogan): “it exists”

    Right.

    Just like Moldovia.

    Hugh: Also a country where it is legal to hurl people from great heights attached to a rubber band, and to float small children onto lakes in clear plastic bubbles. If you’re into that sort of thing.

    I’m really more into hurling small children from great heights. Rubber bands optional.

    Cate Corlan: Plus, I’d like your read on the place that tends its Gross Domestic Happiness quotient instead of its Gross Domestic Product…

    G’wan. There’s no such place.

    Robert: Would you be hypothetically taking the kids? A horseback camping trip in Mongolia would be a great hypothetical birthday present

    Nah. If it even happened, this would just be me. Besides, the step-pones are getting Greece.

  64. Thanks, people. These are a bunch of hugely awesome suggestions, many of which would have never occurred to me. Much to research.

  65. The truth of the matter is that writing, like all forms of entertainment, runs on money, and if you take money out of the equation, you lose many of the creators of that entertainment.

  66. So many good and interesting recommendations.

    For me I think Iceland is interesting. I went to the country to take part in a Viking event in Reykjavík, as well as meet a long-time Internet friend. The landscape felt familiar yet alien. The scale of the terrain is grand, and whilst so many other places have interesting scenery, the ‘alien’ feeling remained for me.

    Politically it has undergone a lot of rapid changes. The banking issues, the gender experiment in politics and business, the familiar but different culture. Vikings are all the rage now, Icelandic is more like old Norse, it’s cool.
    Roughly the society has risen from a mostly peasant level of wealth to being quite wealthy in less than a century. It has a strong tech tie-in despite its relatively tiny population. From the great success of CCP with Eve to CCP’s odd failure with the White Wolf IP. Iceland server farms, in part due to geo-thermal energy costs.
    The large amount of Icelandic strongmen success.
    Icelandic Horses are amazing.
    For me, whilst Sense 8 was an odd attempt at what could have been a good story idea, the use Iceland was a nice touch.
    As mentioned some people believe in Elves, and this belief effects infrastructure: buildings, roads, etc.
    Iceland hosting the World Chess Championship 1972 and the interesting life story of Bobby Fischer. I briefly played around with a sci-fi story idea. One of the comments I heard was that it was interesting how Iceland stood up to the USA in regards to them trying to get hold of Bobby Fischer.
    Cheers for reading, Batjutsu :-)

  67. You can just go live with my parents.

    Outside USA? CHECK
    Anglophone environment thanks to Brit colonialism? CHECK.
    Have internet? CHECK. (Actually, this one really is check… as in, check before going. I can’t remember what they did with the house wifi now that they’ve gotten pay as you go data plans).
    Africa is exotic is Africa is exotic is Africa facile logic loop requirement met? CHECK. (rolleyes)
    Proximity to ocean and dive opportunities (ok maybe not hydrothermal vents)? CHECK

    If you don’t feel ready for the vulcan mindf*k that my parents can be, (and you aren’t), then hell just Airbnb it.

    Your biggest expense will be to hire a driver. But if you really want ultimate freedom and lower costs, figure out the public transit system or get a bicycle or a motorbike. Oh and if you see a stray dog, say in a side street, don’t get all cutesy and try to go pet it or say hi; they don’t know what it’s like to be coddled and will take a bite outcho ass.

  68. Tuva, following in the footsteps of Richard Feynman. Don’t forget to catch some throat-singing.

    For my money, the most Mars-like place on this planet is the ultra-dry Atacama desert, though the dry valleys of Antarctica come in a close second. You can visit the ALMA radiotelescope, where the construction workers routinely wear oxygen supplements.

    But best of all would be the abandoned radioactive city of Pripyat, near Chernobyl. Wildlife there seems to be doing better than before the humans left. As a bonus, it’s in Ukraine.

  69. Heh.. try Transilvania, you can research the origins of the vampire myths (and they are quite fascinating, actually). Most youngsters speak at least passable English, the food is great, the sightseeing is amazing. Besides, a few hours drive towards East and you are in Moldavia (and if you are there try the wine, it’s better than anywhere else), or a few hours drive towards North and you are in Ukraine.

  70. You know, I’ve seen enough movies to know that when someone named Vlad invites you to Transylvania, it’s a bad idea.