Do you remember the first time you wanted to spend time in a place that didn’t exist? I do. I wanted to spend afternoons sampling confections in Willy Wonka’s Great Room. I imagined moving from section to section each day finding my favorites. But part of the problem with the Great Room (besides the obvious) was the only way to gain entry was from winning a golden ticket (and risking your life with all the temptations).
I moved on to places that didn’t involve contests or candy. My tastes grew up with me. But the places I wanted to go to spend some down time disappeared. Most books had sketchy dive bars and holes-in-the-walls where patrons were just as apt to get a mug of arsenic as they are to ingest ale. While I liked the thrill of such places, they weren’t necessarily places I wanted to spend day after day meeting up with friends.
“Froth was the sole establishment in Canto that was open day and night…Both the law enforcers and the lawless could be found in Froth–like rival factions in neutral territory…”
–A Smuggler’s Path
Sci-fi has a better track record with this, but for the most part the establishments run toward the seedy. It begs the question, do comfortable hangouts run counter to ratcheting up drama? Do only kids want familiar surroundings? I don’t think so, but I’m at a loss to find these places in adult fantasy.