Urban Fantasy

Urban fantasy can also be called contemporary fantasy, in case you were worried where to put your Colorado ranch beseiged by the old-fashioned nasty little elves who take out the satellite dish first thing.

A fantasy that takes place in the time of the author, that integrates fantasy with the Western urbanized world, fits here. Too many “Oriental fantasies,” supposedly contemporary, were actually happening off in an exotic neverland because, you know, Asians aren’t part of the real world like Frenchmen and Americans. That’s silly to us now, of course.

Just relax and don’t over-think it: it’s just a genre title, which means it’s just a sales tool to get your work to people who will like it. If they know something they liked was called “urban fantasy,” they should be fine looking at yours.

It also includes future urban/suburban/technological settings for fantasy, you see. So if it’s a hundred years from now and the elves are trying to take over the ranch to destroy the star flight program by getting the scientist who’s vacationing there, that’s “urban fantasy,” too.

Examples of this would be:

The Wizard’s Son, by Mrs. Oliphant. This is an 1884 novel, issued in the usual three volumes that made each the size of a handy pocketbook paperback (not a doorstopper). The entire first volume is as mundane as could be, setting up the people and their relationships and background before starting to introduce the strange stuff. In fact, the wizard shows up at a remote country house, but it’s contemporary fantasy for the author, so it fits here.

War for the Oaks, by Emma Bull

Jim Butcher’s Harry Dresden novels, that turned into a TV series.

The Anita Blake series by Laurell K. Hamilton, who has built a career around urban fantasy, including the Merry Gentry series.

The Sookie Stackhouse series by Charlaine Harris, source of the True Blood TV series.

Twilight series, by Stephenie Meyer. Need more be said?

Perdido Street Station by China MiƩville

Black Blade Blues by John A. Pitts

Metal Angel by Nancy Springer

Of course there are crossovers with other genres. Dark fantasy/urban fantasy is very common, and popular, as in the Sookie Stackhouse books, with vampires and werebeasts, or Harry Dresden, with about anything you can name. Urban fantasy tends to the gritty, rather than the idyllic, what with the broken glass on the sidewalk and low-lifes in the shadows. Mystery crossovers are very common. Dark urban-fantasy mysteries describes Laurel Hamilton’s two series, Anita Blake and Merry Gentry.