As a member of the Fiction 500, you own an awesomely cool car, boat, planenote , and a garage to keep them in, but where do you get your mail delivered? Where do you hang out when not on amazing adventures? A Big Fancy House? No, too normal. It must be a Cool House.
To be a Cool House, the standard suburban mansion, Sleek High Rise Apartment or Big Fancy House just doesn't cut it. The Cool House is Wish Fulfillment in real estate form. It might look like an ordinary home or something that wouldn't normally be used as a house, but in either case the briefest of tours of its features will reveal that it is no ordinary home.
To qualify for Cool House status a dwelling should be sufficiently unique that any "normal" person aware of its full capabilities would be either in awe, concerned about the owner or designer's sanity, or concerned lest the house fall into the wrong hands. Thankfully Cool Houses are often protected by a Weirdness Censor.
In addition, it should have at least several of the following:
- Features that no sane, mundane person would expect to have in their home.
- A security system better than most banks.
- The basement is actually an Elaborate Underground Base.
- Secret passages, fireman poles, concealed helipad.
- Automated gadgets and devices, usually of the homeowner's own invention.
- An architectural style that may make the home unique in the world.
- Home theater that actually looks like a small public movie theater, complete with ticket counter.
- Phone booth, bowling alley, indoor swimming pool/hot tub, "unusual" art, an astronomical observatory with rotating dome, etc.
- The house is the only Big Fancy House in a Stepford Suburbia city.
- A feature that no mundane person would be ABLE to have in their home.
- Alien tech.
- Magic portals.
- An object that is unique in the world, illegal for others to own, etc.
- A physical Weirdness Censor.
- Surrounded by a yard with grass, trees, pool, etc., in a location where construction or normal survival would be impossible, for example, at the north pole, inside a volcano, on top of Mount Everest, etc.
Not to be confused with a popular television doctor.
There are a lot of Zero Context Examples that have been commented out.
Examples, from least cool to coolest:
A house that looks completely ordinary, but is actually heavily automated, often resulting in trouble
- SARAH from Eureka (as normal looking as any underground bunker/house can look).
A house that looks completely ordinary, but hides such features as the roof pivots on a hinge to release an airship larger than the house, or some other equally unlikely thing
- Skeeve's flat on Deva (Myth Adventures) looks like a small tent on the outside, but the inside is in a slightly different dimension, and is much bigger. Of course, he has vampires living in his back yard, so that's a little less cool.
A house that looks spooky or odd, presumably the home of an eccentric at best. When you enter, you realize that the exterior of the house is the most normal thing about it
- Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters. Which is actually an extremely upgraded mansion. Whenever the student body gets too large, two extra mansions are added on the grounds.
- Doctor Strange's Sanctum Sanctorum. Ordinary New York brownstone on the outside; base of operations for a very busy wizard and his assistant on the inside.. plus it may be alive.
- In Help!, The Beatles have a variation on this; they appear to live next door to each other in four rather humble houses on a terraced estate, but it's revealed that the interior walls have been knocked down to make it one large mansion inside with separate color-coded areas (Ringo = blue, John = red, Paul = white, George = green) full of cool stuff inside (Ringo's got several vending machines for snacks, John's got a spinning bookshelf, Paul's got an organ brought up from the basement, and George's got a lawn with a live-in gardener).
- In Ex Machina, Nathan's home looks like a few wooden buildings from the outside, but it's largely a spacious subterranean compound. Nathan describes his home as being primarily a research laboratory, but it has all the comforts of a futuristic mansion. There is an elaborate security system and a huge amount of advanced technology in the labs. He also owns the vast tracts of pristine forests and mountains around it, such that two hours of the helicopter ride are spent flying over them.
- First-time visitors to the Dominator's island may think it's just a mirrored-steel Big Fancy House with lasers on top. There's a weapon embedded in every wall, jets hidden under the grass outside, and an elevator that goes down to a massive basement with its own pool, video arcade, library, enormous warehouse of weapons...
- Bowser's Castle and Princess Peach's Castle from the Super Mario Bros. series, but especially in Bowser's Inside Story, where the former can actually fight against Bowser while giant, and the latter turns into a Humongous Mecha with missile launcher and black hole generator. Not counting what's in either of the actual buildings.
- Tomahna is revealed to be this in Myst IV: Revelation, while only hinted at in Myst III: Exile. A variant in that the Elaborate Underground Base consists of only one room: the linking chamber to Spire and Haven.
A house that doesn't even look like a house, but it sure is cool
- The Aerie, the Colorado cabin in Aunt Dimity Goes West, is one of these. It seems to have grown organically from the mountainside, and it features a variety of decks and windows in many shapes (including portholes and stars). The place also has a variety of luxuries (a massive indoor play fort in the boys' bedroom suite, sauna, hot tub, arcade game room, home theatre, library, outdoor firepit, indoor fireplaces, and so on). One of the characters calls it the owner's treehouse, explicitly stating that he was forbidden a treehouse while growing up and used his wealth as an adult to live the dream. The local pastor's wife comes for a visit and is visibly impressed with the place from the moment she enters.
- Jasper Fforde's Sergeant Mary Mary lives in a re-purposed plane, specifically a Short S.25 Sunderland, a British flying boat patrol bomber. Thursday Next lives there while in hiding during her first pregnancy, and the location also features in one of the Nursery Crimes books.
- The TARDIS on Doctor Who, the ultimate mobile home.
- The house Marvin (John Malkovich's character) in the film version of Red has certainly qualified. The house you see is a front. The real house is entered through the broken down trunk of a car. It has no electronics or phone; Marvin is a Cloud Cuckoo Lander who is almost always 'right' about his conspiracy theories. Inside is a full house, including an old-style safe vault with all the secrets he's collected.
A house with most (if not all) of the above
- Nagi's mansion.
- Tenchi Muyo! gives us the Masaki residence. Complete with interdimentional portals and a Secret Laboratory courtesy of Washu.
- The main characters' house in Popotan. It not only sports a Christmas store, but can also travel through time... which later turns out to not be so cool at all.
- Artemis Fowl's home. He has any technology you can imagine, awesome visitors, and it's basically a friggin' castle. A wine cellar, a holding room, and a room dedicated to watching news. Here's one of the elevator things. Fowl Manor = Win.
- Nanaki's house in the Tantei Team KZ Jiken Note novel The Youkai Computer Knows to the point it looks quite jarringly fantastic for a premise within realistic Greater Tokyo backdrop. Not only Nanaki uses his AI skills to manage a Big Fancy House while in the state of Minor Living Alone, including driverless cars, robotic servants, and large numbers of sensors to reporting literally everything in the house (to the point of precision agriculture). It's also self-sufficient in terms of food production, involving a fish farm and what the novel refers as miniature farm animals. On top of it it's egg-shaped, highly unusual in Japan where strict building codes mean most houses are pre-fab.
- Repellista Zahard's floating castle with the Opera light house from Tower of God.
- Ghost Command, the Haunted Headquarters of Filmation's Ghostbusters.
- Codename: Kids Next Door: Sector V's treehouse.
- Steven Universe: Ladies and gentlemen, the home of the Crystal Gems◊. The wooden house part on the exterior is just Steven's room; inside that statue is a temple which the Gems themselves claim, a sprawling interior with long winding halls, floating platforms, and magic waterfalls.