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Naked City: Tales of Urban Fantasy Paperback – July 5, 2011

3.5 out of 5 stars 57 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


“This anthology of short fiction affords a superb sampling of urban fantasy, that popular sf/fantasy subgenre defined in the book's introduction (which, in all of three pages, is a welcome and helpful, to say nothing of articulate, definition of this subgenre) as a combination of the "often-dark edge of city living with enticing worlds of magic"--with an urban landscape being absolutely crucial to the story. To put it another way (as also expressed in the introduction, that is), "where the story takes place should matter, in some way, to the story." The headliner piece, by virtue of its placement first in the collection's presentation and the name recognition of the author, is "Curses," by Jim Butcher, creator of the urban-fantasy series Dresden Files. It opens like a noir detective story--"Most of my cases are pretty tame"--but by page 2, we see this is Dresden Files fiction as well. The premise is a riot: the famous curse upon the Chicago Cubs has supernatural origins here. "Priced to Sell," by Naomi Novik, is also very entertaining. It's about vampires buying real estate in Manhattan. But you will have fun with all 20 stories.” ―Booklist

About the Author

Multiple award-winning editor Ellen Datlow has been editing science fiction, fantasy, and horror short fiction for almost thirty years. She was fiction editor of OMNI Magazine and SCIFICTION and has edited more than fifty anthologies, including the horror half of the long-running The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror. She lives in New York. Visit her on the web at www.datlow.com.


Product Details

  • Paperback: 560 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin (July 5, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312385242
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312385248
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1 x 8.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (57 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #210,477 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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With 20 authors contributing to this anthology, I have decided not to break it down by each story. My review would then be endless and y'all would just get bored reading it. Instead, I'll tell you that this is an outstanding collection of short stories that showcases some of the many faces of urban fantasy. From Horror to Faeries, a Wizard Detective, and the Troll of Seattle, you will find something you like in this collection.

My favorites are the following (in order of appearance):

1. Curses by Jim Butcher
2. On the Slide by Richard Bowes
3. Fairy Gifts by Patricia Briggs
4. Picking up the Pieces by Pat Cadigan
5. Underbridge by Peter S. Beagle
6. The Bricks of Gelecek by Matthew Kressel
7. The Way Station by Nathan Ballingrud
8. Guns for the Dead by Melissa Marr
9. King Pole, Gallows Pole, Bottle Tree by Elizabeth Bear

The other eleven stories are good, but to me, these just stood out as great examples of what a short story should be (a glimpse in a character's life, one theme explored; in short the modern fairy tale). With so many to choose from, I am sure there will be those who disagree with me on which stories are their favorites. But that is the beauty of this collection, it's all good and there is something for everyone
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Format: Paperback
"Urban fantasy" is one of those subgenre labels that I've never been quite sure of the meaning of. I associate it primarily with Charles de Lint, an obviously gifted writer whose work I've never yet been able to enjoy, and with a certain type of contemporary magical realism. But in the case of Naked City, Ellen Datlow's new anthology, the meaning of urban fantasy is quite literal. Each of those twenty tales takes place in a city. The city might be a real one, or fictional; it might be within the United States (New York City features five times) or elsewhere in the world, or in another reality entirely; the setting might be past or present. But always, there is the city, bewitching and terrifying, frustrating and wonderful.

For many readers, the major attraction of this anthology will be Jim Butcher's "Curses," a Dresden Files story set in that series' milieu, Chicago. I'll confess that I've never read any of the series (supernatural detectives aren't my thing), and while "Curses" wasn't dazzling enough to change my mind on that, it's obvious that Butcher has mastered the wry private detective voice and done a credible job placing that voice in a world of fairies, demons, and yes, curses. This particular story is about baseball, another pastime that has entirely passed me by, but I imagine fans of the sport will get a kick out of Harry Dresden's investigation into the true story behind the Cubs' bad luck, and even I enjoyed it.

Fans of Ellen Kushner's Swordspoint and other novels set in that fantasy world will certainly want to pick up the anthology for "The Duke of Riverside," a story set both before and after the events of that novel, and featuring St. Vier and Alec.
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Format: Paperback
An anthology of 20 urban fantasies in a variety of cities.

"Curses" (Dresden Files, 10.9)
"Duke of Riverside" (Riverside, before and after Swordspoint (Riverside, #1))
"Guns for the Dead" (Graveminder??, prequel?)

The Stories
Jim Butcher's "Curses" is a funny tale of baseball, the Cubs, and Wrigley Field when Harry is hired to lift the curse preventing the Cubs from winning the World Series. Any World Series.

Delia Sherman's "How the Pooka Came to New York City" is cute and unexpectedly benign with a pooka involved! It's 1855 and we follow the emigration of Liam O'Casey accompanied by a pooka who believes he owes a debt.

Richard Bowes' "On the Slide" is a well-done, but sad tale of a bad economy and how a guy, himself down on his luck, is coping. Only there's more to sliding than simply slipping down the economic scale. It can also have a time element. One which could save your butt.

A good story, but rather confusing to read. I'd be curious to know if this is a series.

Ellen Kushner's "Duke of Riverside" leans heavily to the fantasy side of urban fantasy with a lord wanting to escape his destiny.

This was clever and cute, and I'm'a gonna put the Riverside series on my TBR, starting with Swordspoint (Riverside, #1).

Christopher Fowler's "Oblivion by Calvin Klein" is an odd tale about a woman addicted to spending money. I did not understand the ending at all.
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This book is mostly NOT Urban Fantasy- or at least what I think is Urban Fantasy. I consider Urban Fantasy to be the standard and well known elements from High Fantasy (Elves, Dragons, Vampires, Wizards, etc- hence the "Fantasy") taken out of their stereotypical surroundings and brought into a more or less modern setting- often a city (hence the "Urban"). Urban Fantasy is often a little more gritty than High Fantasy, and the heroes are sometimes anti-heroes. However, there's often humor involved too. What's fun is seeing those old fantasy standbys adapt to a modern setting- and the modern urbanites try to adapt to suddenly having magic in their midst.

Jim Butcher is perhaps the current Master of this genre, but there are plenty of others- Simon Green, Patricia Briggs, Kim Harrison, Ilona Andrews, Charles DeLint, China Meiville, Melissa Marr, Tanya Huff, Holly Black- and the list goes on.

But of those, only 4 appear here. Mind you, their stories are all quite good. Jim has one of his best short stories yet, full of whimsy and manners.

However, of the other 16 authors I only enjoyed a handful, and only a few are what I'd call Urban Fantasy. Some might even be considered "Speculative Fiction", which is a genre I don't care for.

Besides the "Big Four" I mentioned there's also: Delia Sherman writes a nice period piece "How the Pooka Came to New York City". Naomi Novik, who writes the "His Majesties Dragon" series has a nice little tale set in the crazy world of Manhattan Real Estate sales. Peter S Beagle, a fantasy writer of great renown dips into Urban Fantasy with a story about a bridge and a troll- perhaps the 2nd most famous troll in the world.
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