Sunday, 9 February 2014

Seattle in Fiction

There are many, many books and films and comics and so on set in London and New York, and many of them are great fun - but there's more to Planet Earth than that.
One place that hasn't been used as a setting all that often is Seattle.

In The Longbow Hunters, Mike Grell sent Green Arrow and Black Canary to Seattle to fight crime, rather than the fictional Star/Starling City. Apparently the proximity to the Canadian border was one of the reasons for the choice, opening up ideas for plots.

I next came across Seattle in fictional form in Wizard of the Pigeons, by Megan Lindholm. "It did not have much of a reputation for sunshine and beaches, but it did have plenty of rain, and the folk who lived there were wont to call it 'The Emerald City' for the greenness of its foliage." That's what she says on the very first page - which makes it an even more fitting place for The Emerald Archer to live. Even better, I see from the Wikipedia page about Seattle that it was also known as Queen City until 1982.
I like the way magic is presented in the story, and the threat to Wizard from Mir is serious enough to threaten the city. Wizard's friends Cassie and Rasputin are great characters as well. I was always sorry that there wasn't a sequel, but Megan Lindholm has gone on to greater things as Robin Hobb.

And then, from the end of the 1980s, there's Ishmael, the Star Trek novel by Barbara Hambly that sets Spock down in the middle of 19th century Seattle and the TV series Here Come the Brides (which starred Mark Lenard, who played Spock's father Sarek), and adds Klingons. Oh, and Spock's lost his memory. I knew nothing of the TV series when I read the book - I don't think it ever crossed the Pond to the UK - but I did enjoy Barbara Hambly's writing. There are all sorts of little references to other Western series and SF series tossed into the mix too, and it's fun to spot them. In fact, I don't think I ever did spot them all - but it didn't matter to the story; it just added local colour. Reading Ishmael led me on to the Darwath books (and one day I'll get round to the Benjamin January books). I have a vague memory that there was some sort of copyright problem with the use of Here Come the Brides, but whatever it was, it seems to have been sorted out now.

I gather that Seattle has more recently been the setting for several TV shows I haven't seen, like Frasier, so the city hasn't been entirely ignored. It looks like a nice place to visit.

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