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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Comments (6)

This is a very good article, I discovered your blog checking aol for a related subject matter and came to this. I couldnt find to much other information on this article, so it was nice to discover this one. I will be back to look at some other posts that you have another time.

Posted by: Recruitment Jobs London | Friday February 24, 2012 at 11:36 PM

This is a very good article, I discovered your blog checking aol for a related subject matter and came to this. I couldnt find to much other information on this article, so it was nice to discover this one. I will be back to look at some other posts that you have another time.

Posted by: Cold Steel Knives | Thursday February 23, 2012 at 7:40 AM

Thanks for the clarification about genres. It can get confusing anymore, that's for sure....

Posted by: Chris | Wednesday February 22, 2012 at 1:32 AM

No mention in book or article about TIm (T.A.) Pratt's Marla Mason books? And as much as I love Buffy and Joss Whedon, "Cast a Deadly Spell" (1991) predates Buffy by six years, and is an even better example of the genre, to my mind. Wish I could remember the name of the one-off, alternative "comix", comic book where I first encountered the genre, personally--black and white, incredibly precise and detailed line art, and a clever, quirky story involving an intrusion from another dimension in a bowling alley, if I remember right; it was beautiful, brilliant, and unique in my experience at the time (around 1987 or so, I think), and I have two copies in a box somewhere...

And I second the amazement at managing to leave out Butcher's Dresden novels.

Posted by: larryy | Tuesday February 21, 2012 at 6:41 PM

Ditto for Larry Correia. Come on guys. Guess I can't accuse you of too much literati snobbery when you mention "Buffy the Vampire Slayer", but, shame, shame.

Posted by: doublegee | Tuesday February 21, 2012 at 6:35 PM

How can you possibly have an article on Urban Fantasy and not mention Jim Butcher's urban wizard Harry Dresden??

Posted by: Judd | Tuesday February 21, 2012 at 5:40 PM

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