Down These Strange Streets: Editor Gardner Dozois on Urban Fantasy

Down These Strange Streets

Urban fantasy is hot right now, and the editors of Down These Strange Streets have been on a bit of a roll themselves-- so we thought we'd highlight this relatively recent collection of cases of death and magic in the city by some of the biggest names in Urban Fantasy. Contributors include New York Times bestselling authors Charlaine Harris, Patricia Briggs, Diana Gabaldon, Simon R. Green, S. M. Stirling, and Carrie Vaughn.

The editors are similarly august. George R.R. Martin has had some modicum of success with a little series called Song of Ice and Fire, while Gardner Dozois, who edits a year’s best series and used to edit Asimov’s SF Magazine, has won fifteen Hugo Awards and twenty-eight Locus Awards for editing, plus two Nebula Awards for writing.

I was curious to ask Dozois—to whom I made my first professional sale back in the Jurassic Era—for his take on “Urban Fantasy.” By the late aughts, the term seemed to have shifted from its original meaning—my recollection being that a publicist at a major NY house deliberately and successfully tried to apply it to what we might broadly call paranormal romance.

Dozois’s take mirrors mine in the sense of noticing a change in taxonomy: “Defining ‘Urban Fantasy’ is a bit tough these days, and it may be that the term has been made too all-inclusive to be really useful. In their The Urban Fantasy Anthology, editors Peter S. Beagle and Joe R. Lansdale divide ‘Urban Fantasy’ up into three sub-categories--Mythic Fiction, Paranormal Romance, and Noir Fantasy. Of these, Mythic Fantasy seems closer to what I would have called Urban Fantasy throughout most of my career, stories--often (but not always) lighthearted--that deal with the intersection of magical realms with the modern world, with the intrusion of fantasy creatures into everyday reality, and, occasionally, with what happens when mortals blunder into enchanted lands where they shouldn't go.”

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