Monday, 1 September 2014

Urban Fantasy at WorldCon

I was sorry not to get to any of the panels or reading that Paul Cornell was on, as I enjoy his Doctor Who work, and some of his comics - and his London Falling urban fantasy series. I did pick up a hardback of The Severed Streets, the second in the series, though. I also enjoy Ben Aaronovitch's Rivers of London series, and I'm now awaiting the fifth book, Foxglove Summer, in which PC Peter Grant comes to Herefordshire. I'm looking forward to seeing what he makes of Merrily Watkins/Phil Rickman territory.
But there's more to urban fantasy than those two series, though like Steampunk a lot of it is set in London. That was the title of the panel we went to on the Friday, with introduced us to the work of Tom Pollack and Russell Smith, among others.
I was quite impressed by Russell Smith. Not only has he moved from London to Manchester (and seems to enjoy living in my old home city), but he's a Tudor re-enactor as well as an author, and an entertaining speaker.
This was the second panel that we saw Russell Smith on - he also took part in Liechester Square: Getting London Wrong on Thursday, which was very amusing, being about all those mistakes about the city, like a certain Norse god trying to get back to Greenwich on the Tube in a recent film, for instance. After the Con, we spent a day in Greenwich, and tried to work out exactly where at the Naval College Christopher Eccleston's dark elvish spaceship had torn up the lawns - worryingly close to the Meantime brewery!
There was a lot said, in both panels, about the history of the city and its many layers, as well as the good advice (I think from Tom Pollack?) "Look up!" There are all sorts of details lurking above eye level that can be very interesting indeed. And there was some discussion about other cities that might lend themselves to urban fantasy - why should London have all the fun? It made me want to go back to my own urban fantasy about Norwich, which ground to a halt after three or four chapters - but I might be able to resurrect it with a bit of thought.

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