Following up on the Epic Fantasy list we did a while ago, a group of us — Liz Bourke, Jared Shurin, Tansy Rayner Roberts and I — are taking a stab at Urban Fantasy. I know what you’re thinking, doesn’t Justin want to stab Urban Fantasy? Sometimes. But, there’s some really good stuff too.
- No more than one book or series from each author. For example, J.R.R. Tolkien could go in for The Hobbit or The Lord of the Rings series, but not both.
- No anthologies.
- You can only list media you have consumed.
- Definitions of “essential”, “favorite”, “urban” and “fantasy” are left to personal interpretation.
The question, of course, is what the fuckity fuck do we mean by “urban fantasy”?
The delicious part is I don’t really care what any of you think it means. To me “urban fantasy” is all about structure and narrative. It has nothing — I repeat, nothing — to do with milieu.… Read the rest
Since the moment I finished Wesley Chu’s debut novel, The Lives of Tao, I called reading it ‘the most fun I’ve had this year.’ I wouldn’t call it the best novel, and maybe not even the best debut, but it’s one of those reads that puts a smile on my face that won’t go away. In reading Mur Lafferty’s ‘debut’ (I put that in quotes since it’s only a debut in that it’s her first novel published by a SFWA approved house) A Shambling Guide to New York City, I found myself less joyful despite nearly identical character arcs and plot structures. My responses to myself ranged from ‘well everyone’s mileage varies’ to ‘oh my God these two books are incredibly similar why do I love one and not the other?’ Considering that question is what this review is about.
Lives of Tao tells the story of out-of-shape IT technician Roen who hears a voice in his head that turns out to be an ancient alien life-form named Tao who’s hitching a ride.… Read the rest
It wasn’t that Nola’s vision had changed: it was that her vision had changed without her even knowing it. There were all kinds of things happening around her that she’d never known about, that she was blind to. Though her experience of the world had seemed whole and certain to her, in truth it had been marred, filled with blind spots, and she’d had no idea.
I rarely begin my reviews with quotes, but this one, pulled from a relatively early section of Robert Jackson Bennett’s American Elsewhere, so perfectly represents the author’s style. His work captures the shadowed substance that always lurks in the corner of our eye, that we feel over our shoulder, and makes our skin crawl without cause. He did it in the novel I called the best of 2012 — The Troupe — and he’s done it again with American Elsewhere.
Mona Bright is just short of middle aged, a former cop without a lot going for her.… Read the rest
Almost two months ago, Bastard of Bastards Books asked me to write a guest post about why I’m not so jazzed with urban fantasy. I agreed, but it wasn’t a real easy post to tackle and I kept fussing with it. I finally got around to finishing it, and he finally got around to posting it.
My name is Justin, and I don’t like urban fantasy. This is where everyone says, “Hi Justin” and then I regale you with the stories about how the genre has burned me so often that I can longer stand to be in the same room with it. I might finish my little speech by saying, “And I’ve been urban fantasy free for 98 days.” Someone might even give me a pin to commemorate my unreliance. Of course, that isn’t really true. . . I do read urban fantasy. I’m just scared of wasting my life every time I do.
… Read the rest
Tom Pollock writes beautiful prose. It’s the first thing I noticed about his debut novel, The City’s Son. So good in fact, that it buoys a straight forward young adult urban fantasy to new heights. It’s a rare novel of that ilk that’s able to hook me enough to give it a full run. I was pleased that not only did it engage me enough to finish the novel, but I found myself coming back to it time and again despite finding the plot just short of boring.
I admit that last sentence is about the biggest back handed compliment I’ve ever given someone. Guilty as charged, however, it’s not that simple. Allow me to explain.
Beth is a trouble maker, daughter of a Hackney widower with a penchant for artistic tagging, and she’s pulling her best friend Pen Khan down with her. After a rough encounter with corrupt school administrators, Beth runs away from her endlessly grieving father.… Read the rest
Before I talk about Jim C. Hines’ newest novel Libriomancer, I wanted to briefly address his recent decision to withdraw from a Reddit Ask Me Anything (AMA) session with the Fantasy Subreddit community. The Fantasy Subreddit is made up of nearly 18,000 highly engaged readers. It’s a wide ranging group of fans, some of a more literary bent and some Sandercrombiefuss fanboys of the highest order. I’ve been a member for a few months now and I’ve really enjoyed my experience there.
Hines backed out of his AMA when a thread, in an unrelated Subreddit, came to his attention. The thread was providing a forum for rapists to discuss their crime. It’s a disturbing series of comments. So many comments when I can’t imagine anyone being interested in reading it. In that way, I support Hines’ decision; he’s long been an advocate for the awareness of violence against women. His decision regarding the AMA is wholly consistent with his position.… Read the rest