Urban fantasy(was Charles DeLint (OT))

Philip.Belben at powertech.co.uk Philip.Belben at powertech.co.uk
Wed Apr 4 13:20:39 EDT 2001

>>> When I saw Neverwhere, it reminded me v. much of Downtown. Anyone
>>> else read it?
>> Sorry, never heard of Neverwhere.  What is it - TV?  Film?
>> Something else?
> Originally a TV series, scripted by Neil Gaiman, then a novel, written
> by Neil Gaiman. There may be a film version at some future point.
> It's an urban fantasy, set in a sort of otherworld that inhabits the
> dark and forgotten recesses of London; forgotten tube stations, old
> buildings, and a bunch of locations that don't appear on any map.
> Like Night's Bridge, and the monastery of the Black Friars, and the
> home of the angel Islington.


In that case, recommended reading for Neverwhere fans: "London Under London"
(I'll look up the author when I get home.  I think his surname is Trench.)
Non-fiction, about all the forgotten tube stations, subterranean rivers etc.
under London.  Fascinating, but some technical howlers...

> Every time I watch or read it, I thank the powers for the fact that we
> had the UK edition of Monopoly when we were kids. :)


BTW, Thanks Ania for the offer of a tape, but no thanks.  I don't have a telly,
let alone a video player, and I have no intention of getting either in the near
future.  Why not?  I just don't enjoy watching - I'd rather read a book, any

>> Never come aross "Downsiders" either but Sarah's description reminds
>> me of a book I just read, "Song of Orpheus" by Barbara Hambly.  This
>> is a novelisation of part of (presumably) a TV series called "Beauty
>> and the Beast".
> Yes, _Beauty and the Beast_ is a TV series; I've never seen it myself,
> but I've heard about it, and seen a Hambly tie-in novel lying about
> somewhere.

There are apparently at least 3 tie-in novels, of which 2 are by Hambly.

>> And finally, Jacob:
>>> Sorry, that's not my definition of Urban Fantasy at all.  Urban is
>>> the setting, Fantasy is the elements that contrast to the setting.
>>> Urban Fantasy is elves living in a homeless shelter or the Oak
>>> King opening an art gallery.  It is flights of fancy set in a
>>> technologized world.
>> No.  I can accept "urban fantasy" = fantasy in urban setting,
>> although I don't like it.
>> I emphatically _do not_ accept the idea, which to me is totally
>> confused, that "urban fantasy" = fantasy in a technological setting.
>> Technology does not imply urban, or vice versa.
> Agreement from me.
> Although I note with interest that right up until that last sentence,
> Jacob was basically describing the same concept of urban fantasy as
> you were.

Good.  I'm glad you agree!

I don't think Jacob was describing the same concept, though.  Our main point of
difference (up until that fateful last sentence!) was Jacob:  Any urban setting;
me:  Fantasy must _depend_ on urban setting to be "urban fantasy".

>> Closer to home, is Fire and Hemlock "urban fantasy"?  For that
>> matter, is Hexwood?  Time City is, even almost by my definition,
>> though...
> Fire and Hemlock -- I think not. It's modern-day fantasy, but not
> urban in any significant sense. It's not noticeably influenced by
> being set in a city -- inasmuch as it *is* set in a city, which isn't
> all that much.

I would agree with that, but it is "urban fantasy" as I understood Jacob's

Incidentally, urban elements are used quite well in F&H - The adventure in the
caves in which Tan Hanivar nearly gets killed being mapped onto Bristol, for
example.  Laurel's Train is almost an urban element, too...

> Hexwood and Time City are both science fiction, not fantasy. :)

They are indeed both Science Fiction.  But please justify the assertion that
Time city is not fantasy!

Seriously, I agree that Hexwood could be treated as pure SF, although I think
DWJ's approach to theta-space (not to mention the other paratypical effects in
the wood!) is more fantastical than science-fictional.

But Time City?  This pretends to be sci-fi until the arrival of Faber John, when
it becomes almost pure fantasy.  This might have been really awful, but I think
it works because the fantastical elements - the polarities, the guardians - have
been there all along, and one gets the feeling of "so _that's_ why the
scientists didn't know what was going on!"

> But if they were, neither would be urban fantasy.

I agree with you there too.  Hexwood isn't - I put it in as an example of modern
but rural.

Time city almost is.  The fantasy doesn't depend on the city setting, but the
city, as an entity, is important to it.  As usual, the three of us seem to be
drawing the boundaries in different places, all for good reasons.


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