bkdelong: (techno deity)
[personal profile] bkdelong
So I've been reading quite a bit lately - I always have a paperback in my pocket when I know I'm going to be somewhere with some downtime to read (including the 35min commute on the train in the AM) and it follows me to my nightstand in the evenings.

I've glommed onto urban fantasy sparked by first reading Piers Anthony's "Incarnation of Immortality" series in the mid-90s - I pick the series back up every so often when I run out of others to read or am waiting for a new book in a series to come in like many of those I reference below.

I'm struggling to find new series that aren't in the Vampire or Werewolf genre. They're everywhere!

Recently the biggest series that I've just completed was [livejournal.com profile] rachelcaine's "Weather Warden" series about a secret, UN-like group stationed around the planet imbued with the various powers to control the elements and actually tone down the very-living but sleeping "Mother Earth"'s powers which wreak havoc in the form of various natural disasters - there are Earth, Fire and Weather Wardens.

The series was a great read and [livejournal.com profile] rachelcaine has followed it up with a spinoff. Mother Earth has manifested representatives of her "energies" in the form of the Djinn. Beings made of pure fire having varying qualities of their mythical counterpart. The "Outcast Season" series is about what happens when one of these Djinn is "cast off" from the collective into human form but "bound" to a Warden in order to draw energy for from the Earth for her magic. Only two books so far but quite good.

Since then, I've also got into [livejournal.com profile] seanan_mcguire's "October Daye" series which is where the Seelie Court meets real life. October is a private detective changeling (half-human, half-fey) who lost everything she had and comes back to continue her work. Yet, as a reluctant knight to the fiefdom of her Duke, she is often called into service of his Court as well. Book 3 comes out September 7th.

In a mix of the elemental and pseudo-fey comes Jennifer Estep's "Elemental Assassin" series where if you don't have giant or dwarven blood, you may also have stone, ice, fire, or air elemental powers as well. Of course, being a mundane human in the normal world is perfectly acceptable as well...

The lead character, Gin Blanco, is an assassin with stone elemental powers - and quite the bad ass. She was taken in by the owner of a BBQ joint who had his own background as an assassin who has both trained her and became her handler. There's quite the cast of supporting characters and I don't actually mind that vampires actually exist (as mostly background) in this series.

Again, this series is only two books in - so it's fairly fresh.

I've read a few of [livejournal.com profile] jimbutcher's "Dresden Files" and I'm guessing I'll head over to consume the rest of the series. I enjoyed the one-season TV Series on Sci-Fi (when it was still called that) as well.

So what's next? There's probably more I'm forgetting offhand and I am certainly a sci-fi reader - that may be a different post. Apparently, I'm digging series that seem to have bad-ass female protagonists- (though I'm not adverse to a male "hero", I just appreciate bucking stereotypes) and again, my quest is to avoid the apparent glut in Vampire and Werewolf (or blatant "Were-creature premise to the point that it was an attempt to barely differentiate between werewolves but still capture the werewolf fan" series) and demons I can take a crack at within reason. I'm enjoying these series that are bucking the typical urban fantasy stereotypes.

So, thoughts? Ideas? Recommendations?

Date: 2010-08-22 10:42 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] gryphon2k.livejournal.com
Tanya Huff's Blood Books series. The protagonist is a female ex-cop, now private detective, who teams up with a vampire. And yes, she's bad-ass ;)

Oops, I missed the part of Sans Vampires.... my bad.

Well, it's still a good series.

Edited Date: 2010-08-22 10:46 pm (UTC)

Date: 2010-08-22 10:46 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] bkdelong.livejournal.com
"teaming up with a Vampire"...still too close for me but thanks!
Edited Date: 2010-08-22 10:47 pm (UTC)

Date: 2010-08-22 11:02 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] brynndragon.livejournal.com
I'm surprised Charles de Lint isn't on your list - he's an urban fantasy author who does fae rather than vamps/wolves/demons. Well, let me introduce you then :). Your comment about female protagonists makes me think of Jack of Kinrowan, that's as good a place to start as any.

Date: 2010-08-22 11:45 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] bkdelong.livejournal.com
Yay- thanks!

Date: 2010-08-22 11:24 pm (UTC)
jicama: (Default)
From: [personal profile] jicama
I'd recommend checking out Emma Bull. The Wikipedia Urban fantasy page also seems to have a good list of authors.

Date: 2010-08-22 11:44 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] bkdelong.livejournal.com
Thanks...two of you have recommend Ms. Bull. Will check-out the Wikipedia reference as well.

Date: 2010-08-22 11:36 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] greenlily.livejournal.com
I'm a huge fan of Tim Pratt's The Strange Adventures Of Rangergirl. If you like the "mythological figures in modern setting" genre, then you should also try Neil Gaiman's Anansi Boys and American Gods and Tim Powers' Last Call. Gaiman's Neverwhere is also free of vampires and werewolves.

Stephen King's Dark Tower series is partly urban fantasy, although a lot of it is also modern urban characters transplanted to a high-fantasy setting. (I recommend this if you like the American West-fantasy elements of The Strange Adventures Of Rangergirl.)

Finally, if you're OK with elves, all of the Bordertown books are worth looking into; the original volumes of short stories may be out of print, but Emma Bull's Finder and the two novels by her husband which precede it are pretty easy to find. (I'm not naming her husband because he has a super-aggressive webcrawler that tracks any mention of his name on the Internet. Look up Emma Bull in Wikipedia and follow the links for her husband.)

Date: 2010-08-22 11:44 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] bkdelong.livejournal.com
Ah, yes. I forgot all of Gaiman's work. I've definitely read Anansi Boys and Neverwhere. Saw the BBC miniseries of the latter - read American Gods several times as well. Huge fan.

I'll look into Pratt and Powers - two of you have recommended Emma Bull as well. That means something.

Date: 2010-08-23 01:54 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] captainecchi.livejournal.com
I second the recommendation of Tim Powers' Last Call.

Oh, I remember the days when urban fantasy didn't mean "vampire smut!"

Date: 2010-08-22 11:49 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] concrete.livejournal.com
Anything by Jasper Fforde !

Date: 2010-08-23 12:02 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] spin1978.livejournal.com
If you want to read some urban fantasy where the vampires and werewolves don't dominate the story, you could give Sergei Lukyanenko's Watch tetralogy a shot. They're there, but the wizards/witches/sorcers/sorceresses are primary. Dark, sarcastic urban fantasy in post-Soviet Russia (with some excursions around the world). Most of the series has a male narrator/protagonist, but he's more an anti-hero. And, as it turns out, he's not even the most powerful being in the books.

Of course, China Mieville's Bas-Lag books (urban steampunk speculative fiction, perhaps, is the overly distilled description) are great.

Date: 2010-08-23 01:11 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] docstrange.livejournal.com
Mieville - "urban steampunk speculative fiction" ... on another world. Yeah, was going to mention them on top of CM's this-world-set others in the same light as VanderMeer's Ambergris - fantasy that happens to mundane urbanites... on another world. But thought the better of listing lots of books where the mundanes ... weren't. :)

Date: 2010-08-23 04:31 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] spin1978.livejournal.com
Point taken - Mieville tends to be my near-initial default recommendation to people who don't want more of the same vampire/werewolf/"classical magic" fantasy tales. King Rat, as you mentioned below, is definitely a solid rec, especially if BK doesn't want to jump into another world just yet.

Date: 2010-08-23 12:07 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kalliejenn2.livejournal.com
i hate to tell you this, but several of the dresden file books center around werewolves and vampires (if you haven't gotten to them yet). the vampire one in particular kind of made me feel like tossing it out the window.

Date: 2010-08-23 01:07 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] docstrange.livejournal.com
I can't recommend China Mieville enough - his King Rat (and the youth book Un Lun Dun) are both urban fantasy (and his The City & The City is also a kind of modern urban fantasy thing, sort of). If you were going to allow yourself urban fantasy on other worlds (a fictional world in which the fantastic comes upon the people there much as it does in de Lint, albeit darker), there's Jeff VanderMeer's Ambergris books, but I think that's going astray from what you seem to be asking for.

So, yeah, as with the other responders, Bull (esp. if one starts with War for the Oaks and de Lint (lots) would also be my main urban fantasy suggestions for flavors of "urban fantasy standards, blessedly sans werewolves or vampires, mostly." They kind of took the Little, Big ball and ran - very far - with it.

As a quick read, there is also Dark Cities Underground, by Lisa Goldstein, much akin with and much different from Gaiman's Neverwhere.

Date: 2010-08-23 01:30 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] secretsoflife.livejournal.com
Cory Doctorow's "Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town" might fit the bill.

Date: 2010-08-23 02:12 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] marphod.livejournal.com
If Vampires and Werewolves are out, how did you get past Fool Moon or Grave Peril (books 2 and 3) in the Dresden series?


Spider Robertson's Callahan's Crosstime Saloon series (mostly collected short stories and novelettes, but latter books may be stand alone novels) is modern and often fantasy (most of the rest is science fiction-ish; the remainder is just present day fiction, but those are rare).


I've enjoyed the various recent Modern Fantasy short story collections, and they're great for finding new authors.
_My Big Fat Supernatural Wedding_, _ ... Honeymoon_, _Strange Brew+, and _Mean Streets_ I've read, and there are several others out there (and I've read them not just because there are Dresden short stories in them...). Some of them are like Butcher, using the collection as a means of telling an in-existing-series story, and some are stand alone vignettes.

Date: 2010-08-23 02:18 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] debsquared.livejournal.com
I'm not into series myself, but here a few urban themes with female protagonists. I just read Random Acts of Senseless Violence by Jack Womack. The central character Lola goes through a Flowers for Algernon-like transition between Manhattan private schools and street punk survival. I also liked Gibson's Pattern Recognition-- the protagonist is allergic to brands and runs into some wonderful Gibson characters. Old favorites that I come back to time and time again are He She and It by Marge Piercy (cyberpunk) and The Fifth Sacred Thing by Starhawk (magical realism), both having urban landscapes as prominent characters.

Date: 2010-08-23 05:19 pm (UTC)
ivy: (polite raven)
From: [personal profile] ivy
I'll have to check out the Elemental Assassin series -- that sounds like something I'd like. Thanks for the recommendation!

Have you read Liz Williams? She has some great detective novels set in a future Singapore with Chinese magic and demons. It's a refreshing break from the vampire-werewolf train.


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