London Dreaming

Tuesday, July 10, 2012 § 2

Went to London for the first time last week!  It was really wonderful and I'm already missing it and fruitlessly fantasizing about sending my CV over to UCL.  What, I'm allowed to dream.

1. I pre-gamed for the trip by mainlining as much London urban fantasy as I could*, so I tore through A Madness of Angels and Rivers of London -- which, by the way, Amazon neglected to inform me that a US edition existed, resulting in my ordering a UK copy which resulted in three weeks of shipping, and of course for consistency's sake I had to get the sequel in the UK edition as well.  I picked up a copy of Moon Over Soho in Oxford, along with a really pretty leather bookmark, and I may have ignored some gorgeous scenery in the Cotswolds because I was too busy inhaling the book.  No regrets.  Since I forgot to pick up Whispers Under Ground, so I guess there will be another three-week wait, shaking my fist over here.  (Not only were the books very awesome, they were also helpful for teaching this US resident some vocabulary.  Okay, watching all of BBC Sherlock twice helped, too.)

2. I spent some time idly pondering urban fantasy and its trappings.  As many have noted, Charles de Lint is probably the progenitor of all this, and interestingly, he didn't actually use the big city, which in our times is probably the first setting to come to mind when one speaks of urban fantasy.  Rather he used small towns and colored up their featureless solitude by importing folk tales and deities ... which Neil Gaiman takes on again in American Gods. And then in contrast there is Madness, in which magic is inherent to the city, is born out of the city and its rules, spontaneously generated out of and shaped by urban detritus; the city has now come alive if not aware.  I think it comes from what the writer is relatively more concerned with: the magic or the city?  Madness is all about London; the magic is a lens, a kaleidoscope through which we can turn the city inside out and shatter it into bits and see how it comes back together.  Rivers and American Gods lean towards being more about magic and myth and how they might hold together/tear apart a city or a world.

* Urban fantasy pretty much tells you what the city and the author wish it could be, up to and including the imperfections that make the masterpiece.  As Sabina pointed out, it gives you the dreams of the city, which I find to be much more interesting than anything found in a travel guidebook.

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§ 2 Response to “London Dreaming”

  • Anonymous says:

    BBC's Sherlock is great, isn't it? Can't wait for the next batch of episodes after that BIG cliffhanger ending. Glad you enjoyed your time in London; I've only been there once (7 years ago), but I thoroughly enjoyed it.

  • Kara says:

    I am so anticipating Watson punching Holmes in the face in the first episode of S3 ... or so I hope :D

    London was so lovely! I can see why it inspires so many people, too. Glad you had a good time there as well!

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