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Reading Recommendations > Nominations: An Aficionado’s Guide to The 20 Best Urban Fantasy Novels of the Last Decade!

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message 1: by MrsJoseph *grouchy*, *good karma* (last edited Mar 23, 2013 08:31PM) (new)

MrsJoseph *grouchy* (mrsjoseph) | 7282 comments "An Aficionado’s Guide to The 20 Best Urban Fantasy Novels of the Last Decade "

Fantasy Aficionados is creating a list of The 20 Best Urban Fantasy Novels of the Last Decade

Why?? Because we saw Barnes & Nobles "Best Paranormal" offerings and we scoff at it! :-D We know how to do Fantasy right! ;-) here: http://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/1...

Here are the rules:
Each person can nominate 1 book/series.

Nominations last until 30-Mar-2013.

Books have to have been published no earlier than 2000

Multiple polls will run simultaneously until we narrow the nomination list down to 50 books. Each poll will run for a total of 2? days. At the end of that time the top ?? books will move on to the next round. When 20 books remain we will vote in a final poll for the position of the top 20 books. Edit? Suggestions?

How to nominate books:
- A series is considered one nomination. For example, someone nominating Halfway to the Grave is actually nominating the entire Night Huntress Series.

- No Science Fiction or Epic Fantasy books! Any sci-fi or Epic Fantasy books nominated will be discarded. For the purpose of this poll Star Wars and all of its derivatives will be considered sci-fi and not eligible.

- Only mature "Young Adult," ie. books that would be characterized as either Adult or Young Adult, for example Daughter of Smoke & Bone qualify.

- When writing your nomination, make sure to add the book as a link. Please do not just write the name of the book/series. If nominating a series link the omnibus edition, if possible. If no omnibus edition exists/is not inside the GR system, please link the first book in the series. Any book nominated without a link will be discarded.

Example
Yes: Magic Bites
No: Magic Bites

- You CAN NOT nominate your own book!

Other important stuff
Have fun!


message 2: by MrsJoseph *grouchy*, *good karma* (new)

MrsJoseph *grouchy* (mrsjoseph) | 7282 comments We need to determine (and agree upon) what constitutes "Urban Fantasy."

Please don't forget! In this group Majority Rules. (Unless Carol or I override by flexing our Mod-like super muscles j/k)

Wikipedia defines Urban Fantasy as:
Urban fantasy is a sub-genre of fantasy defined by place; the fantastic narrative has an urban setting. Many urban fantasies are set in contemporary times and contain supernatural elements. However, the stories can take place in historical, modern, or futuristic periods, as well as fictional settings. The prerequisite is that they must be primarily set in a city.

Characteristics

Urban fantasy describes a work that is set primarily in a city and contains aspects of fantasy. These matters may involve the arrivals of alien races, the discovery of earthbound mythological creatures, coexistence between humans and paranormal beings, conflicts between humans and malicious paranormals, and subsequent changes in city management.

Several characters of urban fantasy are shown to have self-esteem issues or tragic pasts. These matters often tie into the larger story or the development of the protagonist. Though stories may be set in contemporary times, this characteristic is not necessary for the fiction to be considered urban fantasy, as works of the genre may also take place in futuristic and historical settings, real or imagined.[3] Author Marie Brennan has set urban fantasy in Elizabethan London, while author Charles de Lint has featured the genre in the fictional city of Newford.



message 3: by carol., Senor Crabbypants (last edited Mar 22, 2013 11:59AM) (new)

carol. | 2616 comments I'm open to mature "Young Adult," ie. books that would be characterized as either Adult or Young Adult, for example Daughter of Smoke & Bone would qualify.


message 5: by Valerie (new)

Valerie (darthval) | 68 comments I would prefer no YA, but I will roll with the choice of the democracy, or the moderators.

Most importantly, I wanted to comment, so that this thread will show up in my notifications. :)


Snarktastic Sonja (snownsew) | 258 comments Pretty Plz, can we disqualify Twilight? (Which I refuse to link because I don't want it to show up as discussed. )

=D


message 7: by Valerie (new)

Valerie (darthval) | 68 comments I second the motion, Sonja. :)


message 8: by Kevin (new)

Kevin | 284 comments Hey look at that, Wikipedia has more or less the same definition of Urban Fantasy as I do.

Though I don't confine the "place" just to a city environment. American Gods, for example, covers a lot more ground than a single city, but that novel is definitely defined by the place it is set in (The entirety of the USA (North-America?)).

I'm also in favor of Carol's motion to allow "mature" YA.

I don't know about disqualifying Twilight. If we can agree to disqualify it on the grounds that it does not fall under Urban Fantasy for the purpose of this poll (because it really is more Romance than Fantasy) then sure, and any book like it.

But if people here think it does fall under the genre, then disqualifying it just because people dislike it, isn't a good thing to do IMO.

I personally don't care for twilight and its ilk, but reasons for disqualification should be consistent.


message 9: by MrsJoseph *grouchy*, *good karma* (new)

MrsJoseph *grouchy* (mrsjoseph) | 7282 comments KevinB wrote: "I personally don't care for twilight and its ilk, but reasons for disqualification should be consistent. "

I can agree with this.

So, why should or should not Twilight be disqualified?

Discuss! :-)


message 10: by Snarktastic Sonja (last edited Mar 22, 2013 02:27PM) (new)

Snarktastic Sonja (snownsew) | 258 comments I would say that Twilight should be disqualified because it is YA and definitely NOT mature YA. :D

I realize that this is much shorter than Red's disqualifying statement, but I can sometimes be straight to the point! :D

PS: I think it is strangely odd that 10 messages in and we haven't nominated anything - only talked about not nominating something. Makes me laugh.

ETA: PS


message 11: by Sophie (new)

Sophie (imhrien) | 433 comments I also vote to disqualify Twilight.

1) it is not "Best" anything aside from Best seller. In my opinion It did nothing better, new or interesting or well.

2) I always thought of it as a YA Paranormal Romance - not fantasy or urban fantasy

My gut instinct is to agree with Red, in that PNR should not be included, because it could be its own list. The thing is, the boundary of Urban Fantasy and PNR can be pretty vague at times.


Snarktastic Sonja (snownsew) | 258 comments So, fixing this, I nominate:

The Mercy Thompson Collection Books

because I just assume someone else will manage to get to Kate.


message 13: by Sophie (last edited Mar 23, 2013 12:44PM) (new)

Sophie (imhrien) | 433 comments Oh, I thought this was a discussion only thread.

In that case, I'd like to nominate Cast in Shadow. (2005)

Some consider it straight fantasy, but the entire as-of-now 8 book series takes place in the city of Elantra. It also has many Urban Fantasy traits. The only thing 'not' urban fantasy about it is the setting is not in our world.


message 14: by Kevin (new)

Kevin | 284 comments Sophie wrote: "My gut instinct is to agree with Red, in that PNR should not be included, because it could be its own list. The thing is, the boundary of Urban Fantasy and PNR can be pretty vague at times. "

Yea, I'm thinking the same thing as well. PNR probably should be excluded, but there are plenty of books that seem to straddle the line between PNR en Urban Fantasy.

Maybe if anyone disputes a nomination because of it's PNR-ness we should have a vote on it or something.

And I was under the impression that we were still laying out the rules as to what is actually allowed to be nominated before starting on the actual nomination.


message 15: by carol., Senor Crabbypants (new)

carol. | 2616 comments Sophie, not our world makes it UF, doesn't it?


message 16: by carol., Senor Crabbypants (new)

carol. | 2616 comments I wouldn't worry about Twolight. After all, no one's nominated and sounds like no one would vote.


message 17: by Sophie (new)

Sophie (imhrien) | 433 comments Which is what I say! But others have argued that the setting is entirely made up, as in, not Chicago or St. Louis, so the series should be considered straight Fantasy.


message 18: by Carly (last edited Mar 22, 2013 04:15PM) (new)

Carly (dawnsio_ar_y_dibyn) | 192 comments I go with "urban fantasy" as indicating "fantasy which takes place in an urban environment, and, better yet, where said environment is integral to the plot."

Does "best" mean "most influential," or actually "best"?
edit--oops, I broke the rules. We can only nominate 1. I'll keep thinking.


message 19: by Sophie (new)

Sophie (imhrien) | 433 comments I interpret "best" to mean "notable".

And my notion of notable includes it being either :
influential
standing out by trying something different
being very well written and entertaining


message 20: by carol., Senor Crabbypants (new)

carol. | 2616 comments No, I disagree on the 'urban' as any city, even fantastical. Wiki aside, that could include the majority of fantasies, when the term is generally meant as earth setting by most readers. Otherwise God Stalk would count, and believe me, it doesn't. I'll accept Victorian or alternate reality, but if you look at the original list, the books are Earth-like.


message 21: by Carly (new)

Carly (dawnsio_ar_y_dibyn) | 192 comments Carol wrote: "No, I disagree on the 'urban' as any city, even fantastical. Wiki aside, that could include the majority of fantasies, when the term is generally meant as earth setting by most readers. Otherwise G..."
Hm. What does "earth-like" mean? I've been wondering for ages whether Pratchett's Watch subseries counts as UF. Anhk-Morpork, the city where it takes place, is a fantasy city, but is clearly strongly influenced by London and Italian city-states--it's similar enough to make comedy and satire easy, but is definitely a full-fantasy world. To me, it is even more closely reflective of our world than, say, the Garrett PI books, which are categorized by Amazon, B&N, etc, as urban fantasy. Would you say that neither are UF?


message 22: by Sophie (last edited Mar 22, 2013 04:40PM) (new)

Sophie (imhrien) | 433 comments True. I suppose if an urban setting is all that mattered, then even Sanderson's "Elantris" would qualify. The thing is, the Cast series doesn't "feel" like fantasy, there's the snark, races magical and not living side by side in Elantra, which they never really leave. Much of the plot points involve the city's geography, history and social structure. Sagara has mentioned that her inspirations for the series came from Buffy and Firefly, and it shows.

I wanted to nominate it because it is the only example of an "urban fantasy" I know of that doesn't take place on earth. But as you say, I may be the only person who counts it as urban fantasy.

I'm fine with it being disqualified, I shall think of a new nomination.

... but I am curious to know if I'm the only person who thinks UF needs to be, uh, earthbound?


Snarktastic Sonja (snownsew) | 258 comments Hmmm. I have my own personal definitions which I shared elsewhere, but to *me*, Urban Fantasy occurs in present time on mostly present earth - with few modifications.

I realize that isn't *exactly* the definition MrsJ posted, and I wouldn't argue with it, I think the lines are a little hazy - which is why we just need a definition!

So, to *me*, no Cast in Shadow would not be considered UF, but pure fantasy.


message 24: by Jalilah (last edited Mar 23, 2013 04:33AM) (new)

Jalilah Neil Gaiman along with Charles de Lint, Terri Wendling, Emma Bull and others are what I consider to be “Old School” Urban Fantasy. These authors started in the 80s and 90s before all these series with covers of women with tight pants and bare mid-drifts took over. Mind you, I love Mercy Thompson and Jane Yellowrock, but I would like to nominate a recent work from one of these "Old School" authors. I love the more hidden magic co-existing in our world!

Charles de Lint has been praised by fans and other authors alike. For example, Alice Hoffman says he “is the modern master of urban fantasy. Folktale, myth, fairy tale, dreams, urban legend--all of it adds up to pure magic in de Lint's vivid, original world. No one does it better.” I agree with her!

Therefore, I’d like to put one of my favourites, The Onion Girl, a standalone novel from his Newford series, published in 2001 on the list of 20 Best Urban Fantasy Novels!


message 25: by Carly (new)

Carly (dawnsio_ar_y_dibyn) | 192 comments For fun, here's a link to some discussions, examples, and definitions from Tor (the publisher).
I guess my main concern is distinguishing UF from epic fantasy. I define UF as the blending of fantasy with a world where the logistics, conflicts, and mechanics of the everyday have strong similarities with the commonplaces of our own world. To me, true UF must also have the notion of the city as an influential entity in its own right. The direct parallels between the UF world and our own lends a sense of familiarity, and often an absurdism, that is absent from epic fantasy.

But for the purposes of this list, I'm fine with UF being whatever ends up in that top definition box :)


message 26: by Sophie (new)

Sophie (imhrien) | 433 comments I've thought about it a bit, and I think the defining feature of an urban fantasy is not just the City - it's the modernity that comes with one. The cars, the guns the electric lights in a never sleeping city. It's a place that doesn't depend on magic to operate.

That's what's missing from the Cast series, I think, even though everything else about it feels like urban fantasy. I can't speak for the Discworld books, since I (unfortunately!) haven't read them.

What do yous think?


message 27: by Carly (new)

Carly (dawnsio_ar_y_dibyn) | 192 comments (Oh--let me know if this is too badly derailing the thread.)
I haven't read the Cast series, so I can't do the comparison, but I think I sort of agree--modernity is seems to be very related to what I think of as "similar mechanics/logistics to commonplace life". However, if the definition of UF is based on similarity to contemporary life, do books stop being UF as time goes on? 20 years from now, when the world is a very different place, will The Dresden Files and Mercy Thompson no longer be UF, as they no longer will reflect (the reader's) contemporary life? Or if it's based on the author's time period, then do historicalish books not count?


Snarktastic Sonja (snownsew) | 258 comments Carly wrote: "(Oh--let me know if this is too badly derailing the thread.)
I haven't read the Cast series, so I can't do the comparison, but I think I sort of agree--modernity is seems to be very related to what..."


You're making my head spin . . . ;)


message 29: by MrsJoseph *grouchy*, *good karma* (new)

MrsJoseph *grouchy* (mrsjoseph) | 7282 comments I've been thinking about this and I'm still not sure.

I normally classify UF as any Fantasy that occurs mostly inside of an urban area. I mean, how else would you describe Swords of Haven: The Adventures of Hawk and Fisher?

I just checked my shelves and most of the books that I have classified as UF that are located on Earth. (with the exception of Hawk & Fisher)


message 30: by Jalilah (last edited Mar 23, 2013 04:36AM) (new)

Jalilah For me the defining feature of Urban Fantasy is not so much whether it is modern times or the past, or in a city or country, rather that the story is set in a world recognizably our own ,
on Earth, as opposed to a completely different world. The conflict is usually of a supernatural nature and although there might be some romance, it is never the main focus of the story.


message 31: by carol., Senor Crabbypants (new)

carol. | 2616 comments Then is Swords and Deviltry urban fantasy because the third short takes place in a city? I think the significant difference isn't rural versus urban (I mean really-- where do the suburbs go, or dystopias?) but whether or not we recognize land masses and technology because the timeline is our own or is congruent.


message 32: by MrsJoseph *grouchy*, *good karma* (new)

MrsJoseph *grouchy* (mrsjoseph) | 7282 comments Soooo, is the majority leaning towards UF being restricted to Earth?


I don't think I (personally) can agree to modern times, though.


message 33: by Sophie (new)

Sophie (imhrien) | 433 comments Those articles Carly linked to we're pretty good, they pointed to one even more on point: http://www.tor.com/blogs/2010/07/is-i...

I'd rather not restrict it, but hey, majority rules fine by me.


message 34: by [deleted user] (new)

I'm not big on saying UF has to be modern or restricted to Earth.

Garrett PI, Eddie LaCrosse, Raine Benares and the Vlad Taltos series all seem to me like UF books that just happen to be set in alternate worlds with low levels of technological advancement.

I say we go with the wiki definition.


message 35: by MrsJoseph *grouchy*, *good karma* (new)

MrsJoseph *grouchy* (mrsjoseph) | 7282 comments See, this is hard for me. As I stated earlier I (personally) define UF as simply being located in a majority Urban environment. The reason I define it this way is that urban environment require a different set of skills than a non-urban environment. I feel that the city - located on Earth or created - changes the narrative.

Thoughts?


message 36: by carol., Senor Crabbypants (new)

carol. | 2616 comments And I'll argue against the "city" def until next year. Just not while I'm at work.


message 37: by Sophie (new)

Sophie (imhrien) | 433 comments The biggest reason I'd rather the definition be broader, is that it gives people the biggest variety of narratives. The Noir-detective type of stories seem to be the core of what most people think of as "Urban Fantasy", but then there's all these outliers that fuzz the lines doing interesting things with the concept.

I figure, if the list is more broad, we'll just have that much more to discuss when people begin reading it. =]


message 38: by Carly (last edited Mar 22, 2013 10:09PM) (new)

Carly (dawnsio_ar_y_dibyn) | 192 comments Red wrote: "Yes, it does seem like the noir-detective format has taken over in recent years. It's one I enjoy, but there were lots of other authors doing different things with UF before that, and some still ar..."
I got into UF because of the noir detective thing...since I consider Garrett, Vimes, Unwin, etc to be in the same genre as Dresden, Castor, Stark, etc, I suspect I bent my definition into knots until they could fit.
@Red--I think my definition is very similar to yours.

I don't think modernity or our world are strict requirements, but UF does seem to be unified by the reader's sense of sharing familiarity with many, but not all, of the commonplace details of everyday life, so that the collisions between the fantasy and the mundane are striking. When I think of UF, I think of these collisions: imp-powered mobile devices (Pratchett), holy water paintball guns (Dresden), fey-related legislation (Mercy Thompson), etc.

One other thought to throw into the mess--urban environments can't be that strict of a requirement, or Sookie Stackhouse will no longer be UF...


message 39: by Sophie (last edited Mar 22, 2013 10:22PM) (new)

Sophie (imhrien) | 433 comments Carly wrote: "unified by the reader's sense of sharing familiarity with many, but not all, of the commonplace details of everyday life, so that the collisions between the fantasy and the mundane are striking. When I think of UF, I think of these collisions: imp-powered mobile devices (Pratchett), holy water paintball guns (Dresden), fey-related legislation (Mercy Thompson), etc."

Yes, this is it exactly when I say the Cast series "feels" like an urban fantasy. It's the juxtaposition of things very familiar and relatable (being late for work, visiting a favourite store, dealing with crowds and permits, buying lunch on break) with things that are fantastic and otherworldly (dragons, curses, rabid shape changing dogs).

Some UF are in small sleepy towns (Sookie Stackhouse #1), but they still get classified as UF. There are some who consider Gail Carriger's "Soulless" series urban fantasy, even though its also steampunk/PNR/historical fantasy. The thing that ties these all together is that characters have lifestyles that are, for the most part, semi-relatable and they live in a semi-relatable setting.


message 40: by carol., Senor Crabbypants (last edited Mar 22, 2013 10:56PM) (new)

carol. | 2616 comments If I follow the "urban" rule, The Lies of Locke Lamora would be urban fantasy. Island city. City plays a role in the plot. Tragic past. Fantastical.

So why is it, virtually no one has shelved it as 'urban?'

Why is it that Sookie, in the middle of Bon Temps, Louisiana is "urban" if it has to be a city?

Why isn't The Way of Shadows urban fantasy? City is an important element. Tragic past. Urban environment.

Why did the term come into common useage only in the last decade, beginning (roughly) with Anita Blake?

Because regardless what Wiki says, the common useage includes modern earth setting.

Just a suggestion here for our debate team, but why don't we try suggesting some actual books and argue specifics? I'm betting we'll have a lot more agreement.

Over 7 times more people shelved Cast in Shadows as fantasy, not 'urban.' To me, non-earth setting, not urban fantasy. (Modern) fantasy.


message 41: by carol., Senor Crabbypants (new)

carol. | 2616 comments So I'm wondering what your prior GR identity was, Red, because you seem very familiar.


message 42: by Sophie (new)

Sophie (imhrien) | 433 comments Carol wrote: "Over 7 times more people shelved Cast in Shadows as fantasy, not 'urban.' To me, non-earth setting, not urban fantasy. (Modern) fantasy. "

...you're killin' me with kindness!

Your points are incredibly sound to my ears. An Urban Fantasy, by common usage, needs to be a modern mostly urban setting.


message 43: by carol., Senor Crabbypants (new)

carol. | 2616 comments Red wrote: "Oh, although I am shifting opinion towards as open a definition as possible, I do have to nitpick one thing as a pre-Anita UF fan!

Carol wrote: "Why did the term come into common useage only in th..."


Of course. Look up history of the term, and what it was used to apply to.


message 44: by Jalilah (last edited Mar 25, 2013 12:43PM) (new)

Jalilah Don't forget that when the term "urban " first started to be used most fantasy was what we now consider epic or high fantasy. So when people like De Lint,Emma Bull and Gaiman ( actually also Mercedes Lackey with Diane Tregarde) and all the Bordertown series writers (cant remember all their names)started writing fantasy that took place in a world recognizably our own, the term Urban first started being used. It is interesting discussion but I try not to get too obsessed with labels because there are always going to be the exceptions that don't fit neatly into a category.


Snarktastic Sonja (snownsew) | 258 comments Ok, so, I like this definition. Urban Fantasy

This is the just of it, but there is much more on the link

Urban Fantasy, also sometimes called "Modern Fantasy", is a genre that combines common fantasy conventions with a modern settingnote The name "Urban Fantasy" is sometimes taken to imply that all works in the genre must take place in a large city, but this is not the case. Rather the name implies throwing fantasy elements into our urban society. Still, it's very common for Urban Fantasy stories to take place in a large, well-known city, all the easier for their fantasy elements to hide themselves in.


message 46: by Valerie (new)

Valerie (darthval) | 68 comments Ok, this debate is making my head hurt, so I am just going to make my nomination and be prepared to defend it.

I was really torn between two series, both of which should be included. I based my nomination on the fact that I think someone else will nominate the other.

I am officially nominating
Darkfever by Karen Marie Moning.

(Please, please someone nominate Kate Daniels!)


One last thought, in thinking through the mechanics of this effort. If the goal is to choose the TOP 20, it might be better to allow people to nominate more than one series. Maybe limit it five.

I know in other forums it is often a small percentage who regularly participate in forums for nominations. You are sure to get some duplicates, and you want to be sure that you have a good selection from which to choose a solid 20.


message 47: by Valerie (new)

Valerie (darthval) | 68 comments To clarify, I am nominating the Fever series, but there did not seem to be an omnibus to which I could link, as per the rules, I linked to the first book in the series (which was the weakest book - sigh).


message 48: by MrsJoseph *grouchy*, *good karma* (new)

MrsJoseph *grouchy* (mrsjoseph) | 7282 comments Valerie wrote: "Ok, this debate is making my head hurt, so I am just going to make my nomination and be prepared to defend it.

I was really torn between two series, both of which should be included. I based my n..."


I haven't read this series. Would this be considered Urban Fantasy or PNR? A lot of people call it either or.


message 49: by Chris (new)

Chris  (haughtc) I'll nominate the Kitty Norville series, by Carrie Vaughn.

It begins with Kitty and the Midnight Hour. There is an omnibus offered by the SFBC with the first three: Long-time Listener, First-time Werewolf.

Oh, and here is the GR series page: http://www.goodreads.com/series/40485...


message 50: by MrsJoseph *grouchy*, *good karma* (new)

MrsJoseph *grouchy* (mrsjoseph) | 7282 comments Well, I nominate the Kate Daniels series, starting with Magic Bites.

:-D


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