Death Shadow of the Blood Dragon
August 23, 2010 10:24 AM   Subscribe

The annual Orbit books survey of Fantasy cover art: Fantasy Art, The Changing Fashion of Urban Fantasy Heroines, Color trends in Dragons, Title Trends and Fonts.
posted by Artw (74 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite

 
Well, then. Dibs on writing The Death of the Dragon God I: Blood and Shadow Magic. The cover will have some foggy, sepia-tones ruins and a pale green skinned weredragoness in whatever the fantasy-medieval equivalent of Lara Croft't outfit is.
posted by Iosephus at 10:36 AM on August 23, 2010 [6 favorites]


I want to read this in front of a boardroom of fat men in waistcoats with cigars, as my monocle pops out and I bellow "WHAT DO YOU MEAN GLOWY MAGIC FUTURES ARE DOWN?"
posted by Shepherd at 10:36 AM on August 23, 2010 [9 favorites]


Well, then. Dibs on writing The Death of the Dragon God I: Blood and Shadow Magic. The cover will have some foggy, sepia-tones ruins and a pale green skinned weredragoness in whatever the fantasy-medieval equivalent of Lara Croft't outfit is.

Hello, I wish to purchase one book please.
posted by WinnipegDragon at 10:42 AM on August 23, 2010


That's a really entertainingly written and commented upon blog.
posted by sciurus at 10:43 AM on August 23, 2010


Every year we ask our summer intern to do a survey of cover art elements for the top fantasy novels published in the previous year. This year, our wonderful intern Jennifer looked at covers from 2009, and compared them against 2008′s findings.

Mom, Dad, I finally know what I want to do when I grow up!
posted by 2bucksplus at 10:44 AM on August 23, 2010 [3 favorites]


Metafilter: more ready for action and less ready for "action".
posted by GuyZero at 10:45 AM on August 23, 2010


I wish that "draw anything for $2" guy kept up, or I'd commission Dungeon Master (from the D&D cartoon) perusing "Color trends in Dragons" like some kind of fashion mag.

Also: what sciurus said. This is most excellent -- thank you.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 10:49 AM on August 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


Very entertaining post - thanks. I'm a sucker for statistics and so gobble up stuff like this and the OK Cupid trends posts. There must be more out there that I don't know about.
posted by YAMWAK at 10:55 AM on August 23, 2010


Today I learned that if I see the word "stiletto" out of context, I think of daggers before I think of shoes.
posted by Faint of Butt at 10:57 AM on August 23, 2010 [3 favorites]


Also, good to see zeppelins being tracked.
posted by GuyZero at 10:57 AM on August 23, 2010


This is frickin great.
posted by Mister_A at 11:06 AM on August 23, 2010


Today I learned that if I see the word "stiletto" out of context, I think of daggers before I think of shoes.

How about "unionized"?
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:11 AM on August 23, 2010


Just CRAZY about dragons!
posted by FatherDagon at 11:14 AM on August 23, 2010


How about "unionized"?

Workers. Are there unionized high-heel shoes, too?
posted by Faint of Butt at 11:15 AM on August 23, 2010


What exactly is "urban fantasy"? A full-time job with health benefits? Your rap and/or sports career finally taking off? Winning lotto ticket?

That's it, isn't it? This is really just a viral for that Lottery Ticket movie.
posted by Eideteker at 11:18 AM on August 23, 2010


I think of onions.
posted by Artw at 11:19 AM on August 23, 2010


What exactly is "urban fantasy"?

You are a lucky, lucky person. Never find out.
posted by Artw at 11:19 AM on August 23, 2010 [2 favorites]


"Workers. Are there unionized high-heel shoes, too?"

Workers of the world unite and shed your valence electrons!
posted by Eideteker at 11:20 AM on August 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


My first instinct was that "urban fantasy" is to "fantasy" as the "urban contemporary" radio format is to "contemporary." The truth is a little disappointing.
posted by theodolite at 11:22 AM on August 23, 2010


For Gandalf's sake, the plural of staff is "staves"!
posted by never used baby shoes at 11:24 AM on August 23, 2010 [4 favorites]


Are there unionized high-heel shoes, too?

I'd wager that few shoes of any sort are ionized.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:26 AM on August 23, 2010


You are a lucky, lucky person. Never find out.

It's not (always) as bad as all that.

I would call this urban fantasy.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 11:26 AM on August 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


Well, you could, but I suspect you'd annoy two separate sets of people by doing that.
posted by Artw at 11:33 AM on August 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


Oh I don't know. (Danger: tvtropes link -- highly addictive content)

A broad genre label, this includes just about any setting which involves present-day Earth with a magical element. There is usually a Masquerade of some kind, but the most daring of these sorts of settings and stories, like GURPS Technomancer, actually integrate magic into normal society. If this isn't the case, though, there's guaranteed to be another society (or five) just for the supernatural beings.

At times, this is a case of The Magic Comes Back. Other times, there has been an Ancient Conspiracy to keep up the Masquerade throughout all of recorded history. In some cases, it's a version of our world with magic added to it. Other other times you have All Myths Are True settings, and the mythological creatures and deities have had to adapt to modern times.

In short, put a single vampire in something, and it's horror. Put a gaggle of them in there and mention the phrase "vampire politics", it's urban fantasy.


What am I missing? The vampires aren't mandatory.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 11:53 AM on August 23, 2010


Or, you know. No link.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 11:53 AM on August 23, 2010


Interesting to see Green Dragons being so popular... I thought Red was like the bog standard colour.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 11:54 AM on August 23, 2010


And here I thought urban fantasy was stuff like China Mieville and Neil Gaiman. I guess this is also why the "paranormal" section is all erotic vampire stories now instead of "true" tales of spoooky ghosts.
posted by jtron at 11:57 AM on August 23, 2010 [2 favorites]


I saw this a few days ago on Sociological Images, glad it came here.

At the same time, I'd much rather read colorful fun statistics about these books than read the actual books. I am down to just one or two authors of fantasy that I can still read without rolling my eyes, and that's just because I loved their books so much I can't give them up.

All other dragon/warrior/quest/magical whatsit type-books make me run away.

Because otherwise I hear Chomsky and Zinn making commentary in my head while I read it.
posted by emjaybee at 12:06 PM on August 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


emjaybee: have you tried Mieville, then? Big red lefty, he is. No dragons as such, though, but there's (I would imagine) a big honkin' squid in the new one.
posted by jtron at 12:13 PM on August 23, 2010


Interesting to see Green Dragons being so popular... I thought Red was like the bog standard colour.
Nah, they're lizards. Lizards are green. Therefore...
posted by Karmakaze at 12:21 PM on August 23, 2010


Yeah, urban fantasy isn't paranormal romance, but paranormal romance is usually these days urban fantasy. UF is a very broad and shaggy beast; any definition of it that takes in most of the tropes most people who've thought of it would consider to be the urbane fantastic risks being large enough to encompass way too many television shows and 99% of all comic books, these days. One of the many reasons why defining a genre's a mug's game.

Still. We've got to stand somewhere and agree to talk about something.

Previously, but without the truthy crunch of numbers.
posted by kipmanley at 12:34 PM on August 23, 2010


What exactly is "urban fantasy"?

About five years ago, it meant a book that had both magic and modern/Victorian/futuristic technology and probably took place in a city. These days, at its broadest, it can still mean that, but it typically is used to mean "heroine has sex with monsters (vampires/werewolves/elves/dragons/etc)."
posted by Caduceus at 12:35 PM on August 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


Wasn't Anne Rice doing that ages ago?
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 12:42 PM on August 23, 2010


There have been at least two waves of "urban" fantasy. The first started as a reaction to the flood of swords and dragons "high fantasy" books in the 70's and 80's that imitated Tolkein, Howard and Leiber (among others). Emma Bull's War for the Oaks is probably the first book called "urban fantasy", a personal single-viewpoint narrative set in the present day ("now") with fantasical powers and creatures. Charles de Lint is a major author, as is Neil Gaiman (Neverwhere, American Gods, Coraline). Though Bull's book is often regarded as the start of "urban", the tradition reaches back a lot farther than that. Peter Beagle's A Fine and Private Place (1960) certainly qualifies as does Crowely's Little, Big (1981) and arguably even something like Dhalgren fits.

The second wave probably starts with Anne Rice's Interview with a Vampire, though the sub-genre really didn't take hold until with Laurel K. Hamilton's Anita Blake series. Hamilton's genius was to dial the sex and romance to 11, then to turn it up further in the sequels, exploring drugs and bdsm in the bargain. Much of current "urban fantasy" is either a copy of Hamilton or a reaction to it. It's as if the entire "high fantasy" genre used Terry Brooks' The Sword of Shannara "retelling" of Tolkein as inspiration (which leads to abominations like the D&D Drizzit books, but that's another story).

Inspired by Anita Blake, a sexed-up copy of a modern-day retelling of Dracula, we have current urban fantasy: single-viewpoint, set in the present day, with fatastical elements and creatures, focussed on permutations of romance, sex, blood and power. In Hamilton, vampirisim isn't so much a metaphor for rape and addicition as a way for the Mary-Sue viewpoint to enjoy it without consequence. The pop-culture reaction to the uber-competant totally-in-control Blake is a messed-up adict, in a supernatural Peyton (or Melrose) Place. Thus, True Blood.
posted by bonehead at 12:50 PM on August 23, 2010 [9 favorites]


No, no, no, no. The prototypical urban fantasy is Emma Bull's War for the Oaks. Megan Lindholm's Wizard of the Pigeons predates that by a couple years but Bull's novel has the tone and flavor more typical of urban fantasy. Some of Neil Gaiman is urban fantasy for those more familiar with his work.

These days most urban fantasy is paranormal romance (NOT "paranormal fantasy"). The shorter term for these is "fangfuckers".

Fangfuckers are almost universally awful. Thanks, Laurell K. Hamilton.
posted by Justinian at 12:52 PM on August 23, 2010


Damn you, bonehead.
posted by Justinian at 12:52 PM on August 23, 2010


bonehead: Drawing a direct link between Interview with the Vampire and Hamilton's Guilty Pleasures is troublesome to me. Or rather... gah, I don't know exactly what I'm trying to say. I mean, yeah, it's almost impossible to see Hamilton in isolation as someone not heavily influenced by Rice. But the novels were published almost 20 years apart and the tone and style are radically different. I'd love to claim that early Hamilton is far more heavily influenced by the film version of Interview except that Guilty Pleasures was published in 1993 and the movie wasn't released until 1994.

So I dunno, I think it's probably a lot more accurate to say the currently more popular strain of urban fantasy starts with Guilty Pleasures not Interview with the Vampire. The latter is obviously a huge influence in a lot of ways but as you point out Hamilton's influence on later works is much more obvious than Rice's.

On a tangent I think you downplay how much of the high fantasy genre did use The Sword of Shannara as a template rather than Tolkien. Lots, lots, lots. Tolkien's influence is unparalleled but for quite a long time it was primarily filtered through Brooks... or Donaldson in a few cases. People usually forget that Donaldson was published contemporaneously with Brooks. But I digress.
posted by Justinian at 1:07 PM on August 23, 2010


I know and have read most of what you refer to belonging to this earlier wave, but of Hamilton and her ilk I wasn't not even aware.

None of that renders, IMO, something like Atrocity Archives something other than urban fantasy, though, unless what we're really doing here is establishing the ghettoization of another pulp genre, differentiating by quality rather than trope. But I'll keep in mind the potential nudge/wink when the term arises in conversation in case it's intended to mean "trashy supernatural goth romance crap".
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 1:19 PM on August 23, 2010


Poor old Howard and Lieber, always screwed by Tolkien.
posted by Artw at 1:25 PM on August 23, 2010


I think it's probably a lot more accurate to say the currently more popular strain of urban fantasy starts with Guilty Pleasures not Interview with the Vampire.

Quibble, quibble. I'll give you, the line is blurry. Perhaps it's better to say that Hamilton took Rice's Vampire and welded it to Rice's pseudonymous Beauty books.

I think you downplay how much of the high fantasy genre did use The Sword of Shannara as a template rather than Tolkien

It's taken years and miles for me to forget that. Allow me my illusions.
posted by bonehead at 1:26 PM on August 23, 2010


Sometimes it's actually worse when when the meaning of a genre term creeps but still keeps it's hold on works it used to cover - see The Difference Engine being Steampunk despite that term now largely referring to a cosplay fad.
posted by Artw at 1:28 PM on August 23, 2010


On the other hand, Artw, Girl Genius.
posted by bonehead at 1:32 PM on August 23, 2010


(That's a great previous discussion, btw -- thanks for that, kipmanley -- and I see Stross gets his mention.)
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 1:49 PM on August 23, 2010


Honestly, the first thing that comes to my mind when I hear "urban fantasy" is The Dresden Files. It has elements of the "fangfucker"/supernatural romance genre, but also extends well beyond the latter's borders.
posted by AdamCSnider at 2:02 PM on August 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


Perhaps it's better to say that Hamilton took Rice's Vampire and welded it to Rice's pseudonymous Beauty books.

The interesting thing to me is that the Anita Blake books didn't start out as shitty hardcore porn. Each successive book became longer, contained more sex scenes, and the sex scenes became progressively longer and more explicit. By the time I quit reading the icky sex scenes dominated the story to the exclusion of virtually everything else. I had maintained well past the point of rationality the hope that perhaps Hamilton was doing something radical and interesting having to do with Blake becoming that which she despised. But no, as it turns out Hamilton simply figured out that sex sells and the more sex, the more she sold.

The Anita Blake of the first couple books would have staked the later Anita Blake and spit on her corpse. And I wish she would.
posted by Justinian at 2:08 PM on August 23, 2010


"Dark Fantasy" is a term you don;t really hear used a lot anymore.
posted by Artw at 2:35 PM on August 23, 2010


To my mind the thing that differentiates an urban fantasy is that it's a story of the fantastic keyed very heavily to place; because most of our places these days are urban, we call it "urban," but it's the fantastic in an otherwise recognizable place that's key, not the urbanity of that place. DeLint is urban fantasy, and not all of his stories by any means take place in cities. Urban fantasy as such uses some aspect of the fantastic to render something unreal, improbable, transcendent, but nonetheless unmistakeably of the place it's set.

If I had to definite it that's how I'd define it. --Though questions of "place" become well interesting. The Laundry books, for instance (Atrocity Archives et al. mentioned above): if they were much more about the thereless places of modern business travel, airport lounges and conference rooms and hotels and such, then I'd cheekily argue it was an urban fantasy of this floating Businessopolis, but that's just a small subset of where they go and what they're about, so no. But we're definitely not about a real world place. Just a place you can recognize in the real world. (So Lovecraft's New England stories: check. Little, Big is an interesting call: New York City, yes, but so much of it is spent upstate and elsewhere, but New York City is so frequently defined by the time spent elsewhere...) Anyway. War for the Oaks in spades and then some because Minneapolis. Interview with the Vampire because New Orleans.

I haven't read any of the fangfuckers, though. I read some Marla Mason once which is I think San Francisco? Anyway.

Unity of place is important for the focus (but not necessary). The--numinous?--let's call it numinous--is important for the phantastick. The two should complement each other or why bother. Thus: urban fantasy as she is currently wrote?
posted by kipmanley at 2:37 PM on August 23, 2010


Honestly, the first thing that comes to my mind when I hear "urban fantasy" is The Dresden Files. It has elements of the "fangfucker"/supernatural romance genre, but also extends well beyond the latter's borders.

Based on several Mefi threads recommending them, I finally got around to reading the first Dresden Files book, and I devoured all of the rest up in a matter of a couple weeks. I'm eagerly anticipating the new book in October, because I just don't know where Butcher is going from here, but I'm really looking forward to finding out.

Oh, and I, too, welcome the influx of dirigible fantasy artwork.
posted by misha at 3:17 PM on August 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


The "place" for the Laundry tales is the modern bureaucracy -- particularly government bureaucracy -- and it is integral to the way those stories are told. Why whatsoever would "urban fiction" implicate a "real world place"? I don't see it making claim to accuracy of place the way historical fiction, if tenuously, might. I might set my stories in Vancouver or a fictional parallel city; they would be no less urban because my characters don't visit locales that a local would recognize. It's merely a set of tropes.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 3:19 PM on August 23, 2010


Also, I have been on Mefi too long, as evidenced by the fact that when a commenter asked if the hero's hairstyles were changing, I read "goatee" as "goatse". Ick.
posted by misha at 3:21 PM on August 23, 2010


The Laundry stories don't fit comfortably into the urban fantasy category because Charlie has been writing them as pastiches of various author's work. The original novella "A Colder War" is brutally Lovecraftian. The Atrocity Archives is Len Deighton. And The Jennifer Morgue is Ian Fleming. I don't know about the latest because it has not arrived from Amazon yet.

It's hard to read a pastiche of Ian Fleming as urban fantasy.
posted by Justinian at 3:29 PM on August 23, 2010


Sorry, Durn, I was unclear. --The Laundry stories are about bureaucracy, yes yes, sure sure, but as a process, a state, a tool, a setting yes but not a place. There's too many different places in the Laundry stories, old bricky London and the Caribbean or whatever in Jennifer Morgue and modern Teutonic conference rooms and antiquated homes for the criminally mathematical, too many by half for it to have that unity to say yes, the place is a focus of the work--thus it doesn't fit the bill of urban fantasy, at least this bill that I'm kicking around anyway.

Is anyone proposing that they are? --Just curious.

And no, it doesn't have to be a real place. But with a real place it's easier to get the recognition that you need--I need a vu here, because it isn't deja or jamais or presque, but some weird combination of the three: I have never seen this place I have been to so many times before that is about to show me something wonderful. But that vu would be the distilled essence of what urban fantasy the phantastick urbane, shorn of fucked fangs and indie bands and other frills and fripperies, ought to be getting at. Urban fantasy about Vancoevorden, BC can get there, sure; it's just easier and quicker and cheaper from Vancouver direct.
posted by kipmanley at 3:40 PM on August 23, 2010


Nerdy objection: Technically "A Colder War" isn't much to do with The Atrocity Archives, though it has thematic similarities.
posted by Artw at 3:40 PM on August 23, 2010


We could probably get into semantic quibbling over the details of "much to do with" there. The Laundry stories are taking the worldbuilding conceits of "A Colder War" and changing them slightly in order to make it possible to write a series of tales which don't induce serious depression and existential despair in the reader. I don't think one can completely divorce the Laundry books from it as though they sprung out of Charlie's head full-formed like Athena from the head of Zeus.

Charlie wrote ACW as a cold war Lovecraftian novel. TAA is a Len Deighton spy novel by way of post-cold-war Lovecraft. And TJN is a Bond novel by way of post-cold-war Lovecraft (with significant references to cold war era Project Azorian).
posted by Justinian at 4:07 PM on August 23, 2010


-I need a vu here, because it isn't deja or jamais or presque

In latin it would be genius loci. Or maybe the german Weltgeist?
posted by Justinian at 4:13 PM on August 23, 2010


Like I say, thematic similarities, with both referencing the Cold War and Lovecraft, but they do not share a setting and the Laundry stuff is far, far lighter in tone, though it does get a little darker with The Fuller Memorandum and Overtime.
posted by Artw at 4:16 PM on August 23, 2010


Eh, Weltgeist, Zeitgeist, it's all much too big. You lose the unity of focus--the genius loci, yes: that's indeed indeed what you're trying to evoke, the thing you're trying to catch in your vu, and that's a good way to explain why the focus is important, why it must be place and not places: a crowd of genies is very different than a single genius.

I notice I've slipped horribly from hesitantly descriptive to flamboyantly prescriptive. Ten points from me and a slap on the wrist. There's a there here, and it's more rewarding and worth much more than just leather pants and tramp stamps, not that there's anything wrong with either or fangfucking to boot if that's your scene; I've an interesting in picking it out; these are some half-formed thoughts I've been thinking while occupied elsewhere.
posted by kipmanley at 4:25 PM on August 23, 2010


though it does get a little darker with The Fuller Memorandum and Overtime.

CASE NIGHTMARE GREEN approaches.
posted by Justinian at 4:29 PM on August 23, 2010


Indeed.
posted by Artw at 4:47 PM on August 23, 2010


(also I got a big kick out of the identity of the Fuller in the Fuller Memorandum, though it’s someone you probably have to be overly interested in British occult history and/or tank warfare to really be that excited by)
posted by Artw at 4:51 PM on August 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


Age of the Dragons
posted by homunculus at 4:56 PM on August 23, 2010


also I got a big kick out of the identity of the Fuller in the Fuller Memorandum

Must be J. F. C. Fuller then, although I haven't read it yet.
posted by Justinian at 6:24 PM on August 23, 2010


Who he's in correspondence with is pretty neat too.
posted by Artw at 6:25 PM on August 23, 2010


Ok, I'm getting all confused by the sub-genres of fantasy, so here's my attempt to define them. Adjust to your own prediliections.

High Fantasy (Tolkien, Brooks' Shannara books, etc): Characterized by epic world-building and being plot driven where the characters are often involved in some sort of quest to restore order to the world. Continuity becomes an almost obessive feature im most of it as series stretch on.

Heroic Fantasy (Howard, Lieber's Fahred & Grey Mouser, many of Moorcock's Eternal Champions, etc): Flip side of High Fantasy; Character driven; the world acting as a backdrop for the characters to adventure in. Here there be continuity issues.

Urban Fantasy: broadly, anything where a City is the entire world of the story's action and is like charcater in and of itself. Gaiman's Neverwhere, Mievielle's New Corubazon, etc. As far as I'm concerned, it can be in either another world or set in our world, often containing elements of . . .

Contemporary Fantasy: Stories mostly set ostensibly in our world, but with a Hidden Realm of Magic/Supernatural Creature Cabal theme to it. I'd put Fangfic and Lovecraftian mashups and conspiracy stories in this genre, along with stuff like A Fine and Private Place, etc.
posted by KingEdRa at 9:55 PM on August 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


What you label "Heroic Fantasy" there is usually called Sword&Sorcery.
posted by Justinian at 12:27 AM on August 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


Has anybody done Urban Fantasy in the hip-hop sense of "urban"? You know, ghetto mages whose incantations are rhymes that invoke magical powers and/or tags which are magical sigils? Vampire/werewolf clans organised like inner-city gangs? Some magical parallel to the illegal drug economy/war on drugs?
posted by acb at 3:36 AM on August 24, 2010


Great post.

Zinn: You view the conflict as being primarily about pipe-weed, do you not?
snort

Today I learned that if I see the word "stiletto" out of context, I think of daggers before I think of shoes.
Just call me Dr. Agon.
IANAFD.
But I am on friendly terms...
posted by dragonsi55 at 5:02 AM on August 24, 2010


Tolkien claimed that Hobbit pipe-weed was tobacco, but if you suppose Middle Earth is, indeed, our Earth (just a long, long time ago) that's less plausible, as tobacco's a New World plant. I think we all know what kept the Hobbits so domestic, friendly, and seven-meals-a-day-having...
posted by jtron at 6:57 AM on August 24, 2010


Scifi art appreciation 101: the two rules of awesome SF/fantasy art

Oh, and it has this...

Urban Fantasy is really bookcover-based, and as a genre is really a mashup of fantasy and romance novels, and we're still sorting out the schizophrenia of clichés that this has produced.

...sorry fans of the broad Urban Fantasy theory.
posted by Artw at 4:32 PM on August 24, 2010


Christ, Artw, you're going to argue from the authority of a Gawker offshoot? —If that mashup is in fact urban fantasy, and not paranormal romance as a lot of the people who read it and write it have been calling it, then we need a new term to replace the term we've been using for almost thirty years now to talk about the broader thing we're talking about. Any suggestions?
posted by kipmanley at 5:13 PM on August 24, 2010


Whoops, somehow managed to omit this detail this while posting - that's the creative director of Orbit books there.
posted by Artw at 5:22 PM on August 24, 2010


And, sorry, I appreciate why you might want Urban Fantasy to mean what it meant 30 years ago, and you guys have perfectly good arguments as to why it should, but in common conversation it just doesn't.
posted by Artw at 5:24 PM on August 24, 2010


Ha ha oops. One does click through to read before one comments. One was not impressed. One still isn't.

But sigh okay. I'll just go tell everyone who reads and writes paranormal romance that they're wrong, all wrong; I'll tell everyone who writes urban fantasy that we've lost the words we use to refer to what's been written, all because the art director for Orbit was careless in an i09 listicle.

—One hesitates to point out the difference between conversational sallies and y'know criticism; one might be invited to eat a plate of beans. But still.
posted by kipmanley at 6:05 PM on August 24, 2010


Urban Fantasy is really bookcover-based, and as a genre is really a mashup of fantasy and romance novels...

Marketing terms do shift over time. I think that's what has happened here. Spec Fiction has gone from a backwater to a regular money-maker in the past thirty years and the romaticisation of UF has been part of that. Genres, sub-genres in particular, are fundamentally about giving a reader the same experience everytime. The Urban Fantasy label has been redefined from it's early roots to paranormal romance novels. It's completely understandable from a marketing point of view: label a market so that your readers can find it.

The other stuff is still being written, as it always was even before that label existed. The City and The City is old-school urban. Emma Bull's latest, Territory, is Western Fantasy in the same mode. A. Lee Martinez has done a bunch of small-u urban books: Gill's All Fright Diner, and Monster, both seem to qualify, I'm less certain about Divine Misfortune. And so it goes....
posted by bonehead at 10:45 AM on August 25, 2010


« Older The Stone Forest of Madagascar: Huge, spectacular ...  |  North Korean Tourism Video... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments