Monday, November 5, 2012

Urban Fantasy vs. Magical Realism, Part One

Top image: cover to Jim Butcher's Proven Guilty.

I'm making a note to myself to remember to check out this publisher. Perhaps you would like to check them out, as well? They specialize in Urban Fantasy.

I'd also like to discuss the topic of Urban fantasy vs. Magic Realism. Wikipedia describes the difference thusly:
Urban fantasy is a sub-genre of contemporary fantasy defined by place: These stories are set in urban landscapes. Its use of existing contemporary locations like New York and Los Angeles set this genre apart from other sub-genres of fantasy and even science fiction also set in cities. Although some notable exceptions exist, like the fictional city of Newford, which is the setting of the Newford Series by Charles de Lint.

The urban fantasy's focus on plot and action distinguishes it from literary stories that fall under magical realism, which also includes speculative elements and sometimes urban settings, like Aimee Bender's The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake.
I wonder about one of my favorite authors in childhood, Edward Eager, and if his books would qualify as urban fantasy (granted, for the younger reader), despite being written well before the moniker had been claimed as a style of fiction. I definitely remember being favorably impressed in my early twenties by Emma Bull's writing, especially "A War For The Oaks". Very enjoyable and memorable read, for me.

I believe some of my past work would qualify for this genre, and would like to explore it further. But is Urban Fantasy a lesser cousin to Magical Realism? I'm hard pressed to settle on that conclusion, as of yet. "Winter's Tale", by Mark Helprin, was the first novel that I read knowing that it was categorized as Magical Realism. I quite enjoyed it. But John Crowley's "Little, Big" had been a favorite of mine years prior... Would that cross-generational tale of faeries and magical realms in an architect's house in the twentieth century fall in the MR camp? I'm not exactly sure.

Thoughts? Opinions? Questions to further ponder? Please comment below.

No comments:

Post a Comment