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What are some well written Urban Fantasy novels or well done Urban fantasy movies/tv shows?
Posted: 09 October 2012 07:45 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 16 ]
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angusm - 09 October 2012 07:25 AM
fivecat - 09 October 2012 06:54 AM

...what is the definition of urban fantasy? It brought something to mind, but I’m not sure I’m thinking of the same genre as others.

My understanding of urban fantasy is that it features protagonists who live in contemporary, usually urban settings, but who are involved in some way with the supernatural - magic, or magical creatures such as werewolves, vampires and fairies, or magical realms, such as Faerie. In other words, it describes our modern, technological world as coexisting with magic and magical beings or places.

So, for example, I wouldn’t consider Brandon Sanderson’s “Mistborn” or Fritz Lieber’s “Lankhmar” series to be urban fantasy because - although they have urban settings - the cities described aren’t our cities. And I don’t know if I’d consider Zelazny’s “Nine Princes in Amber” (or Henry Kuttner’s “The Dark World”, which inspired it) to be urban fantasy because, even though they feature a protagonist who begins in a mundane world - ours - and then discovers the existence of a parallel, magical world, the bulk of the action takes place in the magical world.

The “vampires! vampires everywhere!” strand of urban fantasy (i.e. Charlie Huston) is a little different from the “there are fairies at the bottom of the garden” strand (i.e. Emma Bull’s “War for the Oaks”), but they both juxtapose the familiar modern world with elements of the supernatural.

Discussion of whether Harry Potter or “Twilight” are urban fantasy is left as an exercise for the reader ...

Thank you for explaining it for me.  I haven’t been a fan of urban fantasy so I’m a bit lost (although I did read the Amber series).

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Posted: 09 October 2012 08:10 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 17 ]
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fivecat - 09 October 2012 07:45 AM
angusm - 09 October 2012 07:25 AM

My understanding of urban fantasy is that it features protagonists who live in contemporary, usually urban settings, but who are involved in some way with the supernatural ...

Thank you for explaining it for me.  I haven’t been a fan of urban fantasy so I’m a bit lost (although I did read the Amber series).

Well, that was how I understand it. But Wikipedia says that all that is necessary is for the fantasy to have an urban setting. Under that definition, “Mistborn” would qualify (even though the world described is nothing like ours). So too, presumably, would Mieville’s “Perdido Street Station” (Mieville describes his own works as ‘weird fiction’).

For me, Wikipedia’s definition is too inclusive, but they have rather more authority than I do, so you may want to take their definition over mine.

‘When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, ‘it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.’ [“Through the Looking Glass”, Lewis Carroll]

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Posted: 09 October 2012 08:19 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 18 ]
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angusm - 09 October 2012 08:10 AM

‘When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, ‘it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.’ [“Through the Looking Glass”, Lewis Carroll]

I must then blame Humpty for the abuse of lose and loose. blank stare

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Posted: 09 October 2012 08:43 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 19 ]
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The Story Board Ep. 1 “Urban Fantasy: Threat or Menace?”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=52khu_YJAmo

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Posted: 09 October 2012 08:55 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 20 ]
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angusm - 09 October 2012 07:25 AM

My understanding of urban fantasy is that it features protagonists who live in contemporary, usually urban settings, but who are involved in some way with the supernatural - magic, or magical creatures such as werewolves, vampires and fairies, or magical realms, such as Faerie. In other words, it describes our modern, technological world as coexisting with magic and magical beings or places.

Going by this definition, H P Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos would surely fit the bill. And I’d certainly rank it as one of the greatest creations of modern imaginative literature. Vampires, werewolves and faerie are just jokes compared to the Great Old Ones IMO.

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Posted: 09 October 2012 09:02 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 21 ]
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The Encyclopaedia of Fantasy says “Urban Fantasies are normally texts where fantasy and the mundane world intersect and interweave throughout a tale which is significantly about a real city, There are many exceptions….” - it’s a very inclusive definition and I think the genre has evolved since the Encyclopaedia was written.

It’s actually the market’s definition a writer needs to look at, and for the current market that means stories set in our world, or a very close parallel world, in which the supernatural intertwines with normality. It’s very necessary to realise that Urban Fantasy has also become a romance genre. I’m struggling to think of a successful series in which the primary character doesn’t have a complicated love live:

Mercy Thomson series : Heroine seduced by and eventually marries the tall, dark and handsome werewolf pack leader, some competition from the visiting son of the werewolf king.
Alpha and Omega series (Mercy Thomson spin-off): Heroine seduced by and rapidly marries the tall, dark and handsome other son of the king of the werewolves.
Hollows Series (Rachel Morgan): Spends several books involved with a male vampire, has a brief fling with another witch, lusts after/is lusted after by the ghost of a century dead demon hunter, is lusted after by her female vampire partner, has ongoing sexual tension with the politically powerful elf druglord.
Women of the Otherworld: Where to start? They all end up paired off! Even the dead half-demon witch ends up shacked up with her dead ex-lover (in the six months of the year she isn’t an avenging angel and not supposed to think about that kind of thing). Cutest pairing may be the two werewolves, who end up with twins, but the start of that relationship is very twisted.
Kitty Norville series: Werewolf heroine ends up marrying her lawyer, after he gets bitten too, which is surprising as the smart money was probably on the tall, dark and manly werewolf hunter.
Anita Blake: Um, lets just say the girl gets about.

Not all of these are set in a particular city, some of them wander from place to place, others have a very strong attachment to a particular city, and some even take place in small towns or the countryside - cf the Sookie Stackhouse/True Blood series.

TV Series I’d consider stereotypically Urban Fantasy include Lost Girl, Grimm, Buffy, Angel, and True Blood. There have been plenty of others, but these are the better known/current ones.

Another way of looking at many of the successful urban fantasies might be as horror that doesn’t set out to scare the pants off you, the successful ones tend to have notably dark elements, and the romances aren’t at all fluffy. Of the heroines in the series I listed, at least three have been raped, two repeatedly over extended periods (both of those in backstory, thankfully), and another has suffered the equivalent of rape in being forcibly made a werewolf by her boyfriend.

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Posted: 09 October 2012 09:11 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 22 ]
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K T Ong - 09 October 2012 08:55 AM

Going by this definition, H P Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos would surely fit the bill. And I’d certainly rank it as one of the greatest creations of modern imaginative literature. Vampires, werewolves and faerie are just jokes compared to the Great Old Ones IMO.

Definitely not in the right territory for the modern urban fantasy market. As I said in my previous post it’s hybridized with romance literature and there are authors who write both. If you look at the Urban Fantasy section in a bookstore you’ll quickly realize a lot of the readers are teenage girls.

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Posted: 09 October 2012 09:21 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 23 ]
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K T Ong - 09 October 2012 08:55 AM
angusm - 09 October 2012 07:25 AM

My understanding of urban fantasy is that it features protagonists who live in contemporary, usually urban settings, but who are involved in some way with the supernatural ...

Going by this definition, H P Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos would surely fit the bill. And I’d certainly rank it as one of the greatest creations of modern imaginative literature. Vampires, werewolves and faerie are just jokes compared to the Great Old Ones IMO.

I hadn’t thought of it that way, but yes, you’re right. Although a certain amount of Lovecraft’s writing features rural rather than urban settings, making it technically desolate-moorland-or-swamp-inhabited-by-degenerate-half-breeds fantasy rather than urban fantasy ...

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Posted: 09 October 2012 09:53 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 24 ]
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Modern harrydresdenish type: the October Daye novels by Seanan McGuire.
Old school - Tolkien’s friend Charles Williams wrote of the spiritual/supernatural world impinging on modern (1930s) England.  Try ‘The Greater Trumps’, although it (like much of Williams) can be enigmatic at times.  On the other hand, Williams was a very visual person - I sometimes wonder if he had films in mind as he wrote - and his books are filled with wonderful imagery.

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Posted: 09 October 2012 09:54 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 25 ]
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To angusm: The Cthulhu Mythos basically actually spans the whole of time and space, so to be sure it may in fact not be possible to limit it to urban fantasy, or to narrow genre definitions of any kind like SF, fantasy or whatever. It’s just… imaginative literature.

DWG - 09 October 2012 09:11 AM

Definitely not in the right territory for the modern urban fantasy market. As I said in my previous post it’s hybridized with romance literature and there are authors who write both. If you look at the Urban Fantasy section in a bookstore you’ll quickly realize a lot of the readers are teenage girls.

A Cthulhu-themed short story by a certain Esther M. Friesner titled ‘Love’s Eldritch Ichor’ actually reads like a teenage romance with lots of slapstick humor. cheese

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Posted: 09 October 2012 10:11 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 26 ]
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K T Ong - 09 October 2012 09:54 AM
DWG - 09 October 2012 09:11 AM

Definitely not in the right territory for the modern urban fantasy market. As I said in my previous post it’s hybridized with romance literature and there are authors who write both. If you look at the Urban Fantasy section in a bookstore you’ll quickly realize a lot of the readers are teenage girls.

A Cthulhu-themed short story by a certain Esther M. Friesner titled ‘Love’s Eldritch Ichor’ actually reads like a teenage romance with lots of slapstick humor. cheese

Esther Friesner has a territory that’s all her own;) But the OP was asking about urban fantasy for the purposes of writing, and answering that means looking at what’s actually sold under that label rather than poking at the boundaries to include personal favourites. If you go into a bookstore you definitely won’t find Lovecraft filed under Urban Fantasy.

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Posted: 09 October 2012 10:19 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 27 ]
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DWG - 09 October 2012 10:11 AM

But the OP was asking about urban fantasy for the purposes of writing, and answering that means looking at what’s actually sold under that label rather than poking at the boundaries to include personal favourites. If you go into a bookstore you definitely won’t find Lovecraft filed under Urban Fantasy.

The OP hasn’t replied to anyone so I wonder if they care.

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Posted: 09 October 2012 10:25 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 28 ]
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When I took Modern Lit at Columbia, Urban Fantasy was defined as literature set in the modern world with magical or paranormal elements. 

There were separate categories for Future History, Alternate Universe/History (often used interchangeably), and Apocalyptic (Religious and non-religious)/Post-Apocalyptic (religious and non-religious).

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Posted: 09 October 2012 10:37 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 29 ]
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I’m not sure how I’d define Urban Fantasy, I just know what I like.  grin

That said, as others have mentioned, I’m a huge fan of Jim Butcher’s Harry Dresden series, and just finished the latest, Ghost Story, last week.  I’m also a fan of Patricia Briggs’ books, both her Mercy Thompson and her Alpha And Omega series, and I’ll third (to Jaki’s second) the Iron Druid Chronicles, as I enjoyed them immensely.  As for the rest of my extensive library of books, my reading tastes are pretty eclectic, so there’s a fair mix of spy/foreign intigue, murder mystery, sci-fi and other types of fantasy mixed in.

One series that no one’s mentioned that I really like is Sherrilynn Kenyon’s Dark-Hunters Series, though whether they could be categorized as Urban Fantasy, I’ll have to leave up to the individual reader to decide.

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Posted: 09 October 2012 11:21 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 30 ]
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DWG - 09 October 2012 09:02 AM

TV Series I’d consider stereotypically Urban Fantasy include Lost Girl, Grimm, Buffy, Angel, and True Blood. There have been plenty of others, but these are the better known/current ones.

Just for the record, I recently watched ‘Lost Girl’ with a pal and thought it was pretty good. Has been a while since I had this much fun with a TV Show.

The overall plot is mediocre at best, but the Characters are all very likeable and have a great chemistry between them, and, of course, Kenzi is one of the best sidekicks I ever seen ^^

It’s a good example of how great the effect of decent characters and their relationship can be. I also thought the concept of the ‘fantasy realm’ being split into ‘light’ and ‘dark’ (as opposed to ‘good’ and ‘evil’) was rather unique.

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