Maurice Broaddus and Jerry Gordon, co-editors of the Bram Stoker and Black Quill nominated Dark Faith anthology series, are turning to Kickstarter to fund their latest partnership, Streets of Shadows. The new anthology promises to blend the best of crime and urban fantasy.
Maurice and Jerry sat down with contributors Kevin J. Anderson, Seanan McGuire, Brandon Massey, Kristine Kathryn Rush, and (not surprisingly) themselves to talk about blurring genre lines and getting away with murder. You can support their Kickstarter by clicking here.
Adam Christopher is a novelist, the author of Empire State, Seven Wonders, The Age Atomic, Hang Wire, and the forthcoming The Burning Dark. In 2010, as an editor, Christopher won a Sir Julius Vogel award, New Zealand’s highest science fiction honour. His debut novel, Empire State, was SciFiNow’s Book of the Year and a Financial Times Book of the Year for 2012. In 2013, he was nominated for the Sir Julius Vogel award for Best New Talent, with Empire State shortlisted for Best Novel. Born in New Zealand, he has lived in Great Britain since 2006. Adam’s latest novel, an urban fantasy called Hang Wire, is out now. You can keep up with Adam on his website, on Twitter as @GhostFinder and Facebook.
by Adam Christopher
Urban fantasy is one of my favourite genres, for two reasons. Firstly, it represents the ultimate juxtaposition of the fantastical and the mundane, placing the weird and wonderful, magical and supernatural right on our doorstep, in a setting that everyone can recognize and relate to. This in itself presents both danger and escapism – what if our city was the host of a covert war between vampires and werewolves? What if the nice old man who lived next door was an ancient warlock – and what if we, the reader, became his apprentice?
The other wonderful thing about urban fantasy is the huge range and diversity of stories that can be told. All it needs is a mix of the real and the unreal, allowing traditional fantasy, magic, the supernatural, romance, crime, horror, and countless other tropes and genres to blend together into something new and exciting.
With that in mind, I’ve chosen five of my favourite urban fantasy novels that run the spectrum from literary, even historical, fantasy fiction through to more traditional examples. By no means is this any kind of definitive list, nor is it the five best urban fantasies. But it is five books that I think are worth a look for what they demonstrate the genre can achieve and, for a couple of them anyway, for how far you can stretch the definition.
BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Vampire and college graduate Fortitude Scott must embrace the supernatural world he has so long avoided in order to stop a vicious monster.
PROS: Great characters, great dialogue, great themes.
CONS: Forgettable villain, lead character is occasionally eclipsed by support.
BOTTOM LINE: This is a strong debut with a lot of heart, with an interesting take on the vampire mythos.
I haven’t had a whole lot of time for reading lately (blasphemy, I know) but I was recently able to finish M.L. Brennan’s Generation V and boy-howdy was it a fun novel! I’m not big on vampires. I don’t find them as boring as zombies but they’ve never appealed to me like other monsters. I do love the movie 30 Days of Night for making vampires frightening (perhaps I should check out the comic) and Jonathan Maberry’s portrayal of blood suckers in Assassin’s Code is insanely awesome. Brennan’s vampires are extremely interesting in a completely different way.
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Fantasy author Anton Strout was born in the Berkshire Hills mere miles from writing heavyweights Nathaniel Hawthorne and Herman Melville and currently lives in the haunted corn maze that is New Jersey (where nothing paranormal ever really happens, he assures you). He is the author of the paranormal detectiveseries Simon Canderous (Dead To Me, Deader Still, Dead Matter and Dead Waters) and the urban fantasy series The Spellmason Chronicles, consisting of Alchemystic and, just out today, Stonecast. Anton is also the author of many short fiction tales. In addition to writing, Anton endeavors to bring authors and readers together through a weekly news show format called The Once & Future Podcast. You can find out more about Anton at his website (antonstrout.com), on Facebook and Twitter as @AntonStrout.
By Anton Strout
Every book — not just my own urban fantasy ones — is a crime scene.
So every time I sit down at the computer to start a new project, I’m staring down the cold steel barrel of zero word count. Then it’s up to me to establish motives, hunt down all the characters, pay attention to the details as I sort through the clues, and eventually put down on the page whodunit.
But it’s arriving at that crime scene and finding that dead rotting book body without knowing who, what, when, where, how, or why that most writers fear.
How do you solve the crime that is the empty page?
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BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Powerful feyre are upset about the conclusion of Strangeness and Charm: Courts of the Feyre #3, and seek to kill everyone involved in support of a court made up of human-feyre crossbreeds. If they succeed, Earth will become a land consumed by darkness and the monsters who wield the void for evil.
PROS: Fascinating magic; powerful and scheming villains; engaging and surprising mystery; epic conflict; dramatic and sympathetic conclusion to character arcs.
CONS: A little slow to build interest; the final battle is frightening and surprising, but not the best ending of the series.
BOTTOM LINE: The Eighth Court takes a little time to build speed, but once it does the thrill ride to the finish is the puzzle solving, magical war that fans of this London Fantasy have come to love. You will get off this memorable ride more endeared to the heroes than ever before, and sad to see them go.
(This review contains spoilers if you have not read the first three books. This series is highly recommended. Start with Book 1, Sixty-One Nails: Courts of the Feyre. It made me a fan of Urban Fantasy.)
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REVIEW SUMMARY: A fun story of New York City’s monsters trying to destroy a likable writer who just wants to get over her past, meet a good guy, and finish her tour guide of the city’s secret culture.
BRIEF SYNOPSIS: A down-and-out writer is hired by a monster-run publishing company to write a tour guide to the monster underbelly of New York City. Her research leads to attacks by incubuses, zombies, golems and a secret villain who wants to turn the city on its head and unleash the brewing war between human and monster.
PROS: Likable heroine; fun supporting cast; creative world building that almost makes you want this kind of New York City to exist; establishes setting for many exciting stories.
CONS: The safeguards that allowed the heroine to intermingle with the monster culture also guarded the reader from feeling truly afraid for her life; humor fell flat too often; the ending jeopardizes future interest in this series.
BOTTOM LINE: The Shambling Guide to New York City starts out well enough to keep you reading, gets even better in the middle, and may or may not satisfy in the end. Unfortunately, for this reader the ending watered down the experience.
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Alan Baxter is a Ditmar Award-nominated British-Australian author living on the south coast of NSW, Australia. He writes dark fantasy, sci-fi and horror, rides a motorcycle and loves his dog. He also teaches Kung Fu. He is the author of the dark urban fantasy thriller novels, RealmShift and MageSign, and over 40 short stories which have appeared in a variety of journals and anthologies in Australia, the US, the UK and France, including the Year’s Best Australian Fantasy & Horror. Read extracts from his novels, a novella and short stories at his website – www.alanbaxteronline.com – or find him on Twitter @AlanBaxter, and feel free to tell him what you think. About anything.
Genre definitions are always very slippery things. I was recently asked by the wonderful folks here at SF Signal to take part in a Mind Meld. It was a pleasure, as I’ve always enjoyed reading those thought-provoking posts. The subject we discussed was The Intersection Between Gothic Horror and Urban Fantasy and the subsequent answers really gave me pause for thought.
The concept of the question, based on this year’s World Fantasy Convention theme of “Northern Gothic and Urban Fantasy”, is that Urban Fantasy represents the new Gothic; castles and haunted locations have been replaced by the Modern City. There was a lot of variation in the responses and I realised it was largely due to the definition of urban fantasy being considered. Many people didn’t think there was a connection between gothic and urban fantasy, which really surprised me. Among those who thought urban fantasy might well be born from gothic horror, there was an implication that it’s somehow lighter in tone, or that it needs to have a romantic element or female lead to be urban fantasy. Are any of those things true?
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BRIEF SYNOPSIS: God is dead and it is up to Craftswoman Tara Abernathy to return Him to some semblance of life. In the strange and beautiful city of Alt Coulumb Tara seeks out the evidence necessary to win the favor of the court and the respect of her firm.
PROS: Thrilling setting, solid world building, creative ideas, and interesting characters.
CONS: Drags a bit in places, but nothing some tighter pacing can’t resolve.
BOTTOM LINE: Don’t let the cover art fool you, Three Parts Dead is not your mama’s urban fantasy.
Kos the Everburning is dead. Tara is a new associate of the necromantic firm of Kelethres, Albrecht, and Ao and as such she is responsible for His resurrection. Tara must search the city of Alt Coulumb for the evidence necessary to revive the Lord as intact as possible. Aiding Tara in the investigation is Abelard, a chain-smoking priest of Kos suffering from a serious crisis of faith. The two will have to wade through mysteries and conspiracies, vampires and gargoyles, for any hope of rescuing the city from chaos.
Faith Hunter is the fantasy author of the Jane Yellowrock vampire hunter series and a long time professional fiction writer. Oddly enough, she also has a third shift job and considers trips to New Orleans to be really interesting, hanging out of the window like a pup with it’s nose in the wind, camera in hand, while doing vampire drive-bys. Including her other pen name, Gwen Hunter, she has over 20 published books in 20+ countries around the world. Her latest addition to the Jane Yellowrock series, Death’s Rival, was released by ROC on October 2nd, 2012. She is an original creator of and regular contributor to MagicalWords.net, an industry blog for sci-fi and fantasy writers. You can find out more about Faith at her home on the web, FaithHunter.net, or visit her official Facebook page to try and find Jane.
By Faith Hunter
I’ve hunted down a lot of vampires in the past few years. Well, on the printed page as my alter ego Jane Yellowrock, but who’s counting all those little voices in my head anyways? As a result, I’ve gotten pretty good at identifying who a potential blood-fiend might be. Today I want to share these potentially date ending, life-ending, and “why-did-I-just-spend-$100-to-go-out-with-her” ideas with you. It’s your lucky day!
10. The red wine that she’s been swirling in her wine glass for the past five minutes during your date looks just a little thick, just a little warm. When it splashes on the white linen table cloth the stain looks juuuuust a little too bright. And she’s not sharing either.
BRIEF SYNOPSIS: After saving existence once again, James Stark finds himself stranded in Hell. This time things are different though. James is in charge but that doesn’t make life any easier or less dangerous.
PROS: Lots of cool ideas and interesting approaches to overdone tropes.
CONS: Almost too many ideas and a convoluted plot.
BOTTOM LINE: Fans of Sandman Slim will be pleased and urban fantasy readers in search of a unique series may have a friend in Kadrey.
After the events of Aloha From Hell, demon hunter James Stark (aka Sandman Slim) finds himself stranded in Pandemonium. The Devil decided it was time to abandon ship and left him in charge. Stark is given a crash course in Hellion politics and court intrigue, rebuilding Hell and dodging assassination attempts to boot. Things aren’t much better back in L.A., with a serial killer ghost causing havoc and a secret cabal plotting to rewrite reality. It looks like Stark has some killing to do.
PROS: A rich plot and strong character-development make this Urban Fantasy offering fresh and enjoyable.
CONS: At times, it wavers under a little too much historical detail, but in the end, those details enrich the story. Definitely need to read the previous books to fully appreciate this one.
BOTTOM LINE: Overall, a strong, enjoyable read.
DB Jackson, aka David B. Coe, was born on March 12, 1963, the youngest of four children who all grew up to be writers. David received his undergraduate degree from Brown University and then attended Stanford University as a graduate student in United States history. His novels include Children of Amarid, volume one of The LonTobyn Chronicle. In 1999, The LonTobyn Chronicle was awarded the William L. Crawford Memorial Fantasy Award by theInternational Association for the Fantastic in the Arts (IAFA). The Crawford award is given annually to the best book or series by a new fantasy author. Thereafter followed the critically acclaimed Winds of the Forelands, five volumes, and Blood of the Southlands set in the same world as Winds of the Forelands. He’s also written Robin Hood, a tie-in novelization for the Russell Crowe film and is a founding member and proud contributor to the Magical Words blogsite, dedicated to the craft and business of writing. The Magical Words crew collaborated on How To Write Magical Words: A Writer’s Companion from BellaRosa Books. His first urban historical fantasy, Thieftaker, released from TOR this year under the nom de plume, DB Jackson.
David and his wife have two daughters and live on the Cumberland Plateau. He can be found online via Facebook, Twitter as @DavidBCoe and @DBJacksonAuthor or via his websites at http://dbjackson-author.com/ and http://www.sff.net/people/DavidBCoe/.
Bryan Thomas Schmidt talks to DB about his career and his exciting future projects.
SFFWRTCHT: Let’s get the big reveal out of the way first. You are the artist also formerly known as David B. Coe, no symbol, correct?
BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Letters found in the jacket pocket of a newly awakened amnesiac woman explain she has a choice: to escape a dangerous life, or to impersonate the woman she was in a secret government organization of people with supernatural abilities.
PROS: Amazing world-building, fast-paced, tightly plotted, interesting protagonist, subtle underlying humour
CONS: Some situations are hard to believe given the circumstances
BOTTOM LINE: If you like mysteries and intricate world-building, pick this up.
BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Novice sorcerer Ray Lilly investigates strange occurrences within the small coastal town of Hammer Bay. While trying to keep his boss from executing him for his own past crimes, Lilly attempts to track down and eliminate the threat responsible for deleting children from existence.
PROS: Starts out firing with a rapid pace that doesn’t subside, author has no problem killing characters.
CONS: No innovation within the Urban Fantasy genre, lack of consistent characterization, lack of plot resolution, overuse of the same solutions to obstacles, core writing fundamentals were lacking.
BOTTOM LINE: If you are looking for a new innovative Urban Fantasy series, keep looking. Child of Fire disappoints.
- Interviews & Profiles:
- Self-Publishing Review interviews Tessa Dick, the widow of Philip K. Dick, who has reworked the novel he was working on at the time of his death in 1982: The Owl in Daylight.
- Agony Column podcast-interviews Karen Armstrong.
- @Bibliophile Stalker: Kate Baker.
- ActuSF interviews James Lovegrove (The Age Of Ra).
- Locus Online has Locus Magazine interview excerpts with John Clute.
- Ben Bova talks about the recent loss of his wife, Barbara.
- Frederik Pohl on fandom.
- Last week, the Indian science fiction writers met in Varanasi to discuss the future and perils of science fiction writing in India.
- Cory Doctorow’s book Little Brother wins the Sunburst Award.
- Ross Bradshaw considers: Small presses are often based on one individual. Is that a bad thing? [via Damien G. Walter]
- At Juno books, Paula Guran talks about Women, Horror, Urban Fantasy, Paranormal Romance and Other Things I Should Not Say… [via Bibliophile Stalker]
- Never underestimate the determination of a sf fan: The SF Team, an informal group of fans and enthusiasts from Serbia, has translated Michael Swanwick‘s Periodic Table of Science Fiction into Serbian.
- Free sample from Pyr: The first 5 Chapters of Paul McAuley’s The Quiet War.
- Neatorama directs us to this Interactive Map of Banned and Challenged Books.
- Writerly Bits:
- ScFi Wire asks: Is mysticism overtaking science in sci-fi?
- For those musically-inclined (or reclined as the case may be): Buzzgrinder is hosting an Admiral Ackbar song contest.
- ABC will only be running a measly 4 episodes of V this year, with the rest of the season appearing in the Spring of 2010. Yeah — only if the rating were good, I’m thinking. [via SciFi Scanner]
- Also at SciFi Scanner: Are You a Replicant? Take the Blade Runner Ultimate Fan Quiz and find out!
- Slice of SciFi on the upcoming Stargate Universe premiere: “this isn’t your daddy’s ‘Stargate’ series”.
- Interviews & Profiles:
- GalleyCat asks; What’s Urban Fantasy? What’s Paranormal Romance?
- Free excerpt: Underland Press has posted a lengthy excerpt of Jeff VanderMeer’s Finch. [via Jeff VanderMeer, who also eveals other cool Finch extras...]
- Jo Walton’s love/hate relationship with funny fiction: “I hate things that are trying to be funny, rather than letting the humour bubble up from underneath.”
- Joseph Mallozzi’s October Book of the Month Club Selection is…Open Your Eyes, by Paul Jessup (which I happened to like.)
- Jim C. Hines tells us The Hugo Awards are shaped that way for a reason.
- Reactions to recent Gender discussions from S.M. Duke and OF Blog of the Fallen.
- Super Punch shares H.R. Giger’s ads for Pioneer.
- Summer Glau is better than my girlfriend.
- At AMC, John Scalzi will undoubtedly ignite even more nerdgassing over his new article, Epic SciFi Design FAILs – Star Trek Edition.
- @Rotten Tomatoes: Respectable Horror Sequels
- @io9: The Science Fiction Sitcoms That Never Were.
- @SCI FI Wire: 12 weird sci-fi statues you can buy for your garden.
- @BestScienceFictionStories: 5 Great Science Fiction Stories that Contain Talking Animals.