Sherwood Smith (sartorias) wrote,
Sherwood Smith
sartorias

The Urban F

I was talking to anderyn in another comment thread on another subject, and we got onto what friends are reading now: the urban fantasy or paranormals, depending on which vector you come from.

This is a question that came to mind when I was listening to some people in the con suite last weekend, but it subsided beneath the mental murk, to bob up again today. Is this really the hot thing right now in fantasy? Of those who cruise by here, who loves it, who hates it, and why?

Mostly I'd be interested to pin down, if it's possible, what's working here in the current zeitgeist. The vampire thing I guess could be tracked back to the various Joss Whedon shows, but is that overlapping the fae/big city thing? Especially fae/New York?

I thought that was the latest resurgence of the wave of the mid eighties, kicked off by Emma Bull's War for the Oaks. Wow, the stories that one inspired! For about ten years, it seems, we had punk kids, punk elves, punk musicians and buskers squaring off to fight against the bad Sidhe with rock music. Earlier, Elizabeth Marie Pope got under a lot of writers' radar with her moody, exquisite The Perilous Gard--which is set in Elizabethan times, not present. In this one, the fae are not preternaturally beautiful, they use magic as glamour--and they cannot create.

The storyline is no longer confined to an easy contest between the good and bad faerie courts, and how easy it is to defeat the bad fae by music of whatever kind. Elizabeth Bear's Promethean Cycle delves with fascinating and intricate emotional and psychological knotwork into these questions; on the YA level, Cassandra Clare is doing intriguing things with her Mortal Instruments series. They make it clear the draw is not just cuteboy wicked angels and handsome but suffering demons--though there's plenty of overt as well as oblique ST in the stories. I think there's a level underneath, which draws on the resonance of Judeo-Christian symbols and images: angels, demons, devils, holy water, crosses, and what these mean to people who reject the traditional forms of organized religion. Questions of the supernatural juxtaposed over what it means to be human in perilous times.

Anyway, any insight anyone cares to offer on this recent boom, I'd love to discuss it.
Tags: links, urban fantasy
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  • Life is a Labyrinth

    Due to gerrymandering some time ago, probably two or three demographic shifts past (right now I'm blocks from Little Saigon, city within a city…

  • Looking Back

    Today's Decameron is a scene from Pamela Dean's forthcoming book, Going North. Reading that makes me want to return to The Secret Country books.…

  • (no subject)

    Today's Decameron story is by Max Gladstone, a science fiction piece. Don't miss the frame tale at the end of each, which reflects back to Jo…