Tough Traveling – A Well-Traveled Road


tough guideEvery Thursday, Nathan at Fantasy Review Barn leads a group of fellow bloggers on “Tough Travels”, a trip through the tropes that populate the fantasy and sci-fi world, using Diane Wynne Jones’ hilarious The Tough Guide to Fantasyland as a guide.

This week’s subject is “A Well-Traveled Road”:
Why go overland when you can follow a road? There are several reasons, like hiding from Ringwraiths or avoiding mutant insects, but following a road is still the quickest way from one place to another, no matter what the fantasy world. And who cares if you run into a pack of cannibals or some flying monkeys, that’s the sort of drama that makes a story exciting. I didn’t say that the well-traveled road was the easiest way, just the quickest. This is TOUGH traveling after all.

The Imperial Highway — Queen of Sorcery by David Eddings

queen of sorceryThe Tolnedrans are the Romans of Eddings’ world, with all that entails. Emperors, legions, intrigue, conquest and roads. They built a network of roads across the continent, linking all the countries for travel and trade, especially trade. They even were so thoughtful as to place hostels along the route, located a days’ travel apart from each other. So the prudent traveler won’t have to tough it out under the stars. Provided you can afford the cost of lodging, of course.

Yellow Brick Road — The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
by L. Frank Baum

ozIs there a more famous road than the Yellow Brick Road? It was the subject of an infectious tune sung by Munchkins and inspired a song about howling dogs of society by Elton John. Dorothy and her companions follow the Yellow Brick Road (follow follow follow follow) through the magical forest and fields of poppies, harried by flying monkeys and wicked witches before reaching the gates of the Emerald City. According to legend, Baum was inspired by a real yellow brick road located in CITY

The Road— The Road by Cormac McCarthy

the roadLeave it to Cormac McCarthy to make the road novel into a harrowing, existential examination of life and family. It’s also a masterpiece. If you are up to it, The Road follows a father and son as they travel an abandoned highway across a post-apocalyptic landscape. Along the way they encounter sickness, death, starvation and cannibalism. If things get too tough, however, the unnamed father has a gun at the ready, with two bullets loaded. Yeah, it doesn’t get any more cheerful.

Damnation Alley — Damnation Alley by Roger Zelazny

damnation alleyAnother post-apocalyptic classic, this time with more action. The United States is a wasteland divided into police states and vast stretches of wilderness filled with mutant creatures. Hell Tanner, a convicted criminal, must undertake a suicide mission and drive the iconic Landmaster from Los Angeles to Boston, carrying a needed vaccine through the ruined landscape of America. The 1977 film starring George Peppard may not have met Zelazny’s approval, but it is a certain influence on George Miller and his later films, like…

Fury Road— Mad Max: Fury Road

There’s no way I couldn’t include this. The latest Mad Max entry features the former lawman and his Ford Interceptor in the best movie I’ve seen this year. But really the star is Charlize Theron. She shines as Imperator Furiosa, helping Immortan Joe’s wives escape his clutches as car wars ensue along the Fury Road to Valhalla. Indeed, Max is almost unnecessary, as Furiosa and the dying war boy Nux steal the film, at least as much as they can when cars are exploding all around them.

charlize-theron-mad-max-trailerCome back next week when we take a look at “Creative Cursing.”

—Michael Senft

About Michael Senft

I am a freelance writer and critic from Phoenix Arizona. I spent 10 years covering music, the arts and pop culture for the “Arizona Republic” before life circumstances took me away from newspaper. But I never lost my joy at writing. Or reading.
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9 Responses to Tough Traveling – A Well-Traveled Road

  1. When I just read the description, I thought this was literal roads too – not journey. The only two “roads” I could think of were The Road and The Wizard of Oz. The beam from The Dark Tower is a kind of road?


  2. Nice list. Well played with the Wizard of Oz and the Yellow Brick Road. It was a tough one this week.


  3. Bookwraiths says:

    Rough week, but you pulled out some great ones. Cheers!


  4. I also have the Yellow Brick Road on my list, it has to be the most famous road! The Road and Fury Road are dark but cool choices!


  5. proxyfish says:

    Fury Road! Excellent! The Imperial Highway is a great choice too 😀


  6. Ah, Damnation Alley! Thank you for this trip down Memory Lane, it’s ben a long, long time since I read this one, and now I feel the need to revisit… 🙂


  7. Nathan says:

    I watched Mad Max on Saturday. I am still geeked out beyond belief; youtube clips of the Doofwagon over and over and lots of sound track consumption.


  8. rudejasper says:

    The Yellow Brick Road is so famous, it’s easy to forget about it, lol. Weird how that happens. I think it wins as the most perfect choice for this topic!


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