Urban Fantasy

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Marbas
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Urban Fantasy

Postby Marbas » Fri Aug 22, 2008 5:26 pm UTC

I looked and I looked, I could not find a thread chiefly devoted to this...subgenre? So, for those who live in a damn cave, Urban Fantasy is fantasy elements such as elves and magic transported to modern setting. For some reason, Ye Olde Schoole Fantasie makes me go BLAAARGH. This is why I tend to stick to Urban Fantasy. The vast majority of it is pulp/fluff. It's fun, but many times it's not particularly deep. Especially with recent influx of romance novels that use the settings. Charlaine Harris, you have started a plague, a horrible horrible plague. The good stuff in the genre doesn't take itself too seriously. There's a bunch stuff based around the fey. Most of it surrounds Charles deLint and his circle of writers.

Lots of Urban Fantasy protagonists are detectives. The reasons for this are obvious. I still want to see a novel about a high school janitor that is part of a secret occult society that fights to maintain the fabric of reality. I think that would be incredibly amusing.

Anyways:


Nightside series by Simon R. Greene [Recommended, doesn't take itself seriously at all, ridiculously over-the-top]
Anything ever written by Lillith Saintcrow. (They take themselves too seriously, so it's pretty funny. Also, Lillith Saintcrow? Seriously? WHY WOULD YOU CALL YOURSELF THAT?)
Magic Bites and Magic Burns by...someone.
The Greywalker series by Kat Richardson
Madhouse, Nightlife, etc, by Rob Thurman
Dresden Files by Jim Butcher (Read these damn it.)
Bordertown Series
War for the Oaks
Quantum Gravity series (Recommended, it's about a world where some sort catastrophe stuck a bunch of worlds together and made magic real. Also, the main character is a cybernetically-enhanced girl. Has a bit more depth than most examples of the genre.)
Last edited by Marbas on Fri Aug 22, 2008 7:40 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Urban Fantasy

Postby Mighty Jalapeno » Fri Aug 22, 2008 5:50 pm UTC

Most things written by Neil Gaiman, specifically "Neverwhere" and "American Gods". Both awesome.

Also, the book I'm working on right now will be released free, chapter-by-chapter, on my forthcoming website. It concerns a group of old vampires and new vampires struggling to survive in a world of Homeland Security and reality television (and these aren't the vampires you're used to). If I can get ahold of Morgan Freeman, I'll also be releasing it as podcasts.

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Re: Urban Fantasy

Postby AntonGarou » Fri Aug 22, 2008 7:18 pm UTC

"Tinker" and "Wolf Who Rules" duology by Wen Spencer builds an interesting world, where magic is tightly mated to the multiple world version of quantum theory, and magic and technology actually work in pretty good synergy.The heroine is a junk yard owner and a serious genius- we're talking the girl whose father built the first warp-gate here, but also very lacking in social skills.The series itself isn't deep, but is very fun.

Clive barker has some really great horror/urban fantasy settings, like the one in his short novella "Cabal", and is usually very thought provoking.His writing, at it's best, is horrible and beautiful and terrible all at once, and "Cabal" is definitely his best creation to date.

Anybody who reads the genre should at least try Charles De-Lint, his books are always deep, and his characters are always people, even those who really aren't.Also, most of Tim Powers' work- especially the "Last Call" series, and The Laundry series by Charles Stross which is one part Lovecraftian Mythos, one part Cold War spy thriller, and totally engrossing.

If you would like to branch into RPGs, I would like to recommend Shadowrun, which was once characterized by a friend as "Take one part cyberpunk, one part magic, and one part apocalyptic wasteland.Blend with blades on low velocity.Serve suspicious."
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Re: Urban Fantasy

Postby ishikiri » Fri Aug 22, 2008 7:41 pm UTC

They're kids books but the Artemis fowl series is set in all modern and some urban locations.
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Re: Urban Fantasy

Postby Sarr » Sat Aug 23, 2008 12:32 am UTC

Marbas wrote:Dresden Files by Jim Butcher (Read these damn it.)


Ninja'd by the first post.
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Re: Urban Fantasy

Postby Amarantha » Sat Aug 23, 2008 12:05 pm UTC

AntonGarou wrote:...and The Laundry series by Charles Stross which is one part Lovecraftian Mythos, one part Cold War spy thriller, and totally engrossing.


^This. My love for this bloke's writing is inexpressible. Selected quote to illustrate awesomeness:
"About six years ago I nearly landscaped Wolverhampton, not to mention most of Birmingham and the Midlands, while experimenting with a really neat, new rendering algorithm that just might have accidentally summoned up the entity known to the clueful as “Fuck! Nyarlathotep! Run!” (and to everyone else as “Fuck, run!)."
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Re: Urban Fantasy

Postby toshiro » Sat Aug 23, 2008 2:15 pm UTC

Oo... this might get me to read Fantasy books again besides Pratchett's Discworld novels (which I, personally, don't file under 'Fantasy'). Now if only I could cram 48 hours in 24-hour days.

I'll go check out these authors now. Thanks a lot for pointing them out :)

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Re: Urban Fantasy

Postby Marbas » Mon Sep 01, 2008 11:09 pm UTC

AntonGarou wrote:"Tinker" and "Wolf Who Rules" duology by Wen Spencer builds an interesting world, where magic is tightly mated to the multiple world version of quantum theory, and magic and technology actually work in pretty good synergy.The heroine is a junk yard owner and a serious genius- we're talking the girl whose father built the first warp-gate here, but also very lacking in social skills.The series itself isn't deep, but is very fun.

Clive barker has some really great horror/urban fantasy settings, like the one in his short novella "Cabal", and is usually very thought provoking.His writing, at it's best, is horrible and beautiful and terrible all at once, and "Cabal" is definitely his best creation to date.

Anybody who reads the genre should at least try Charles De-Lint, his books are always deep, and his characters are always people, even those who really aren't.Also, most of Tim Powers' work- especially the "Last Call" series, and The Laundry series by Charles Stross which is one part Lovecraftian Mythos, one part Cold War spy thriller, and totally engrossing.


That duology sounds awesome. I'll have to track it down. Same with The Laundry series.

Charles DeLint has the horrible New-Agey vibe that makes me cringe. It's worse in some stories than in others. But when that's not getting in the way I find his work to be pretty fun.

Last Call is a series? Damn...I've only read Last Call, and I feel like I missed a lot. I'll have to give it another go.

I've only read a little bit of Clive Barker's stuff. But I've liked what I've seen.

Also, the book I'm working on right now will be released free, chapter-by-chapter, on my forthcoming website. It concerns a group of old vampires and new vampires struggling to survive in a world of Homeland Security and reality television (and these aren't the vampires you're used to).


That sounds like it has potential. I've actually encountered a bunch of series based around vampires. Especially if they're vampire detectives. Detectives are OBSCENELY common in the genre because they're the easiest profession to write for. Charlie Huston's Already Dead series is my favorite involving vampires. Even though it's not really fantasy.
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Re: Urban Fantasy

Postby Felstaff » Wed Sep 03, 2008 8:42 am UTC

Shirley Harry Potter, and Interview With the Vampire fit under Urban Fantasy? Or am I doing it wrong¿
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Re: Urban Fantasy

Postby Jorpho » Thu Sep 04, 2008 4:04 am UTC

The Night Watch books: a series of four fabulously successful Russian novels that have so far yielded two fabulously successful Russian movies. (Apparently you should stay away from the video games.) They're definitely distinctive, and they're definitely urban fantasy, though on the whole they might be a tad on the dull side. I still haven't read the last two, but I intend to.

I should add they're also quite dark and deadly serious. Probably the best thing about them is the care and detail that goes into describing the Twilight, the mysterious and ethereal force that powers everything. I suppose if you want to pigeonhole it, it's all vampire detectives again, but it's good stuff anyway.

And I think Diane Duane's Wizardry novels also fall within the genre. They're kind of all over the place, but when I was a wee lad they completely blew me away. They're intended for the young-adult audience, apparently, though a spinoff series, The Book of Night with Moon and To Visit the Queen (and another one that is said to be forthcoming) has a rather weightier style.

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Re: Urban Fantasy

Postby Brianm » Thu Sep 04, 2008 7:39 pm UTC

I've just started The Jennifer Morgue (The second of Stross's Laundy books). I really liked the first one - it reminded me of another Powers which also arguably fits into this genre: Declare. It's a cold war spy thriller, with Djinn, and is excellent (like all Powers)

De Lint is OK in small doses, but he tends to reuse the same themes - nearly every character seems to be a victim of child abuse for instance.

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Re: Urban Fantasy

Postby ironypoisoning » Fri Sep 05, 2008 10:21 am UTC

I'm not sure it's exactly that awesome, but Cassandra Clare, a penname for a writer who used to be prominent in the Harry Potter fanfic community, came out with the first book in a trilogy, called "City of Bones," and I hear "City of Ashes," the second book, just came out. I would say it's kind of Buffy-like... or Neverwhere-ish.
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Re: Urban Fantasy

Postby sem » Sat Sep 06, 2008 1:51 am UTC

Mercedes Lackey's Elves on the Road series is good urban fantasy
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mercedes_Lackey#Elves_on_the_Road_universe
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Re: Urban Fantasy

Postby vellumwing » Sat Sep 06, 2008 5:05 am UTC

I am obsessed with Neil Gaiman, Clive Barker, and Diane Duane...some of my favorite authors ever. American Gods and The Sandman blew me away. The Abarat series is pretty dear to me. The Young Wizards series pretty much defined my childhood - they're pretty much the reason I want to be an author today.

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Re: Urban Fantasy

Postby AntonGarou » Sat Sep 06, 2008 1:55 pm UTC

New addition to my recommendations:the Chaos trilogy by John C. Windham(Children/Fugitive/Titans of Chaos, in that order).Really interesting world based on the Greek mythology.The original bloodthirsty stuff, not the watered down version most kids are taught nowadays.The part I think I most liked is that neither side of the book is portrayed as saints, also that the protagonists make a lot of stupid mistakes in the beginning but tend to learn from them, rather then making no mistakes or making the same ones over and over.

I'm currently reading "Snake Agent" by Liz Williams, which has interesting world combining hi-tech and the Chinese mythological background.The protagonist is a police inspector acting as a liaison between mortal police forces and the supernatural realms- mostly Hell, naturally.
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Re: Urban Fantasy

Postby bigglesworth » Wed Sep 10, 2008 5:45 pm UTC

toshiro wrote:Oo... this might get me to read Fantasy books again besides Pratchett's Discworld novels (which I, personally, don't file under 'Fantasy'). Now if only I could cram 48 hours in 24-hour days.


You have a strange filing system...

I would add Tim Powers' Anubis Gates, and Susan Clarke's Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrel.
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Re: Urban Fantasy

Postby Sriad » Thu Sep 11, 2008 10:19 pm UTC

I'm a bit suprised no one has mentioned China Miéville. His books are more Victorian (think horrible, dirty cities with Dickensonian child labor etc) than modern, but quite good.

I'd also include The Iron Dragon's Daughter by Michael Swanwick.

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Re: Urban Fantasy

Postby bigglesworth » Fri Sep 12, 2008 8:27 am UTC

Marbas wrote: So, for those who live in a damn cave, Urban Fantasy is fantasy elements such as elves and magic transported to modern setting.


That said, China Mieville is awesome.
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Re: Urban Fantasy

Postby pollywog » Fri Sep 12, 2008 9:13 am UTC

bigglesworth wrote:
Marbas wrote: So, for those who live in a damn cave, Urban Fantasy is fantasy elements such as elves and magic transported to modern setting.


That said, China Mieville is awesome.


That is so very true. New Crobuzon is like Discworld, but deeper, and serious, and tackling some big issues.
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Re: Urban Fantasy

Postby darwinwins » Sat Sep 13, 2008 3:21 am UTC

kafka on the shore by haruki murakami.

/he's just my favorite author. much more inventive than neil gaiman.
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Re: Urban Fantasy

Postby JayDee » Sat Sep 13, 2008 7:04 am UTC

After reading this review I've wanted to get my hands on Mike Carey's books about freelance exorcist Felix Castor. Mike Carey is probably my favourite author in comics (this is the guy who wrote a successful spin-off of Sandman), but I haven't found them yet. A quote from that review:
Paul O'Brien wrote:There's a common problem that plagues a lot of modern day fantasy stories. The writer wants the mystical world to be strange and underground, and so you end up with a world where, despite incontrovertible evidence to the contrary, "rational" characters persist in denying the obvious and all look like idiots. Castor's world takes the other approach: the supernatural is more of a subculture than a secret, and everyone accepts that it exists. The scientists are getting stuck in to an exciting new area of study. The lawyers are figuring out what rights the ambulatory dead have. And so forth. The rational characters aren't particularly in tune with the supernatural, and need somebody like Castor as an expert to guide them through it, but they accept it exists.

It reminds me of some of the ideas in the Anita Blake books, which are a guilty pleasure of mine.

It sounds like it fits the thread, but I can't really recommend them not having yet read them. Has anyone out there checked them out? (The Devil You Know is the first book.)
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Re: Urban Fantasy

Postby Marbas » Sat Sep 13, 2008 7:30 am UTC

I've passed those books in the store and almost bought them several times, with regard to Mike Carey. If I can find a local Barnes and Noble I'm definitely going to pick up a copy.

I'd like to check out Harukimi Murakami, I've heard good things about him. He seems really really quirky. Also, though Gaiman is good, I think he tends to be overrated by fanboys.

I've read the Iron Council and loved it. Any other books of his that you would recommend? For China that is.

The Snake Agent and Chaos Trilogy sound pretty neat, both of them. But I have always had this thing about Greek mythology, I think the watered down version from school put me off of it.

Also I loved Abarat, as much as I read anyways. Which was to the second book. Diane Duane made up a good chunk of my childhood reading as well.
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Re: Urban Fantasy

Postby 0range » Sat Sep 13, 2008 4:44 pm UTC

Tad Williams - War of the Roses

A fun one by a master story teller, definite shades of Lewis Carroll.

Raymond E. Feist - Faerie Tale

Sometimes the plot drags, the characters are a bit shallow, and it could've been done better. If you haven't read any Feist, this probably isn't the place to start. Fits the genre you're looking for perfectly, however.

George RR Martin - Sandkings

A gem of a short story by one of the masterful story-tellers of our generation. Doesn't fit this genre exactly, but it's a great read nonetheless.
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Re: Urban Fantasy

Postby pollywog » Sun Sep 14, 2008 1:49 am UTC

Marbas wrote:I've read the Iron Council and loved it. Any other books of his that you would recommend? For China that is.


Perdido Street Station and The Scar are set in the same world, and well worth reading. The Scar follows on from PSS, although none of the characters are the same.

0range wrote:Tad Williams - War of the Roses

A fun one by a master story teller, definite shades of Lewis Carroll.


War of the Flowers? Good book. I liked it.
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Re: Urban Fantasy

Postby AntonGarou » Sun Sep 14, 2008 10:40 am UTC

0range wrote:Tad Williams - War of the Roses


I dislike Tad Williams' style: his plots move far too slowly for me, with a lot verbosity, infodumps and exposition.Definitely not one for everybody.

George RR Martin - Sandkings


Second that one, with just one warning:if you connect strongly with protagonists(like me) you'll probably wish you could take a steel brush to the insides of your mind after reading.The protagonist there is a *vile* person.
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Re: Urban Fantasy

Postby 0range » Sun Sep 14, 2008 2:47 pm UTC

pollywog wrote:War of the Flowers? Good book. I liked it.


Oops! Yes, that's correct.

AntonGarou wrote:Definitely not one for everybody.


As with everything in life. Personally, I love Tad Williams and disagree with your above points. For someone looking for an urban fantasy, I would definitely recommend this book.

AntonGarou wrote:The protagonist there is a *vile* person.


I quite liked him, he was a bit of a bumbling coward though. :mrgreen:
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Re: Urban Fantasy

Postby zacpol » Wed Oct 01, 2008 1:27 am UTC

I read the series a while ago, so I don't really remember if they're kid's novels as such, but the "So You Want to be a Wizard?" series fits the bill pretty nicely. The stories are pretty intense, revolving around these two kids who separately find the same guidebook from which the series gets it's name. It ends up being the real deal, and become wizards in this complicated system that spans the entire galaxy. It's sort of similar to "A Wrinkle in Time", but not really? I dunno. Look it up on Wikipedia; they're written by Diane Duane.

The 8th (or maybe 9th?) book in the series comes out 2009, so I'm going to pick it up then.


Also, I'm completely sure this is a children/young adults series, but Garth Nix's Keys to the Kingdom series might be what you're looking for. I read the first one when I was around 8 or 9, and I just recently bought the next 5 and read all of them in about a week. They're for the younger crowd but I'll be damned if I don't finish a series I started!
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