What we learned: We really like Lord of the Rings. Photo courtesy New Line Cinema.
Call it schadenfreude, but we love it when The New York Times screws up. In an endearing way. And this time, it’s something we can comment on and be witty about: They’ve inadvertently invented a country, and its name is Kyrzbekistan. And it appeared in print (as well as online, but a correction has been issued). To be fair, the correct country, Kyrgyzstan, is not particularly well known, but still: They done messed up. And thank god they did, because the internet is having a blast with this brand-new destination. So, in honor of the nascent fictional country, we asked our staff to name some of their favorite fake places, and then rated them.
Summerland’s got everything you’d need in a fictional country—tough-guy fairies, giants who are good at making baseball bats, sasquatches—and it’s easy to access. All you have to do is head to Clam Island, then find a werefox to guide you through the Lodgepole, the tree that connects all the worlds of the universe. It’s as easy as hopping on the subway.—Jeremy Saum, executive editor
Where it’s from: The young-adult novel of the same name by Pulitzer-Prize winning author Michael Chabon
Livability: High; it’s easier to get to than Oakland during a BART strike.
2. Babar’s Kingdom
This is where the wild animals really know how to party. Plus, it’s only a brisk quadrupedal run to a French-speaking city where elephants can buy three-piece suits and make friends with old ladies.—Alex Palomino, assistant photo editor
Where it’s from: the Babar books, which we adored as kids.
Livability: High; we take shinings to animals that can talk and wear dapper suits.
In Fillory, animals talk (and wield weapons), summer can last forever, and there is such a thing as the COZY HORSE: a giant stallion made of quilted velveteen whose back you can lay on like a bed. I mean, you can’t ever predict when you will be allowed entrance and there are also some dark twisted murder-y underbellies and at one point the whole world almost melted onto a stack of turtles but it doesn’t matter—Fillory 4 EVA. —Elizabeth Spiridakis Olson, creative director
Where it’s from: The Magicians, a fantasy novel by Lev Grossman.
Livability: Medium; Murder-y underbellies harsh our mellow. But then again, where doesn’t have murder-y underbellies? (Other than Scandinavia, obviously.)
I guess my distant second would be Rohan, which is where the hot horseman is from in The Lord of the Rings. I like that I could shout the term “ROHIRRIM!” to address a group of said horsemen. Kind of doesn’t beat the cozy horse from Fillory, though.
…Wait. I might be obsessed with horses and didn’t realize until right now.—Elizabeth Spiridakis Olson
Where it’s from: Lord of the Rings trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkein
Livability: Medium; Rohan is the kingdom of Men in the series, so you wouldn’t be living with dwarfs or orcs or anything (but you wouldn’t be living with elves, either). The kingdom was ruled by a king who was put under a nasty spell, and that’s when things kind of went downhill. The War of the Ring starts, Saruman’s peeps attack Rohan, yadda yadda, everyone is happy at the end. Seriously, though: Hella hot horsemen.
Where to go in 2015: Loompaland. This friendly place is having a moment, especially for sun seekers and those who want to look like sun seekers. Travelers return with a signature orange glow. (“Where do you get your spray tan, darling?” “It’s not a spray tan, darling, I’ve been in Loompaland.”) The locals are keen to share their unique lockstep dancing style and bawdy tunes with travelers—but be sure to stay on their good side, because they are quick to correct wrongs. —Davina Baum, Director of Digital Content
Where it’s from: Roald Dahl’s delightfully twisted Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Livability: Medium; living in a veritable Candyland sounds pretty great. And Oompa Loompas are super cute, but they can be vicious at the drop of a dime. It’s like your adorable pet cat eating your unfound body after you die in your apartment, sort of.
6. Grand Fenwick
Grand Fenwick is a tiny bankrupt country, whose prime minister, Count Mountjoy (Peter Sellers) mounts an invasion of the U.S., planning to surrender immediately and collect the postwar bounty the U.S. had typically bestowed upon its defeated enemies. There’s a fine wine subplot to this story: Grand Fenwick’s bankruptcy was caused by an American company that had produced a cheap knock-off of the duchy’s only export, Pinot Grand Fenwick. —Derk Richardson
Where it’s from: The 1959 film, The Mouse that Roared
Livability: Medium; it’s between France and Switzerland in the Alps, and other than that whole war thing, it’s be great to live in a place that’s known for their stellar wine. We imagine Pinot Grand Fenwick to be similar to a nice Burgundy. Smooooooth.
Sure, it’s not as sexy as, say, Atlantis, but Elbonia—a mud-strewn land where pigs rule and mittens are always in style—does have its charms. Despite attempts to outsource programming to the fourth-world country, technology hasn’t really blossomed—digital detox, anyone? As for the waist-deep sea of mud in which Elbonians live: Consider it a country-wide, skin-clearing mud spa. And who needs an Emirates suite when this is your primary means of travel?
Where it’s from: Scott Adam’s Dilbert comic strip
Livability: Well, you’ll never find the Pointy-Haired Boss in “The Worst Place on Earth” but if you’re into potato gods and mud wine, trade in those miles and convert your dollars to Elbonian grubnicks asap. So, medium (compared to the rest, below).
Is it weird that I get chills when I think about Katniss’s rebellion? Yes? Whatever, if fighting your young peers to the death in a harsh environment that’s also trying to kill you isn’t your idea of fun, you don’t have to live in Panem with me. —Danielle Walsh, associate editor
Where It’s From: The Hunger Games novels and movies
Livability: That depends on where you live—and which book/movie you’re on.
Deserted by the land’s first settlers due to inclement weather (overcooked cauliflower and broccoli falling from the sky, for example), the town of Chewandswallow is reasserting itself on the international scene. While the all-inclusive meals are not for every traveler, the convenience of food raining from above cannot be underestimated. Collecting the right food at the right time may be difficult at first, but always be prepared with your own bowl, spoon, knife, fork, cup, and plate. Insider tip: don’t look up, because orange juice can arrive at any moment—when it gets in your eyes, it really stings. —Davina Baum
Where it’s from: Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs
Livability: Ehhhhh. While the idea of delicious food literally raining from the sky sounds enticing, constantly having to dodge things like cheeseburgers might become exhausting. It’s also an absolute nightmare for vegetarians.
How can it get better than Freedonia, the bankrupt small country that turns to the hilarious Rufus T. Firefly (Groucho Marx) for leadership in order to get the financial support of Mrs. Teasdale (Margaret Dumont)? Bonus fact: It has its own national anthem—“Hail, Hail, Freedonia!” Another bonus fact: Dictator Benito Mussolini banned the film in Italy—you can probably guess why.—Derk Richardson, senior editor
Where it’s from: The Marx Bros. 1933 movie Duck Soup
Livability: Low; a depression-era country that’s leaning on the loans of a rich lady? No thanks.