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City of Angles: vol//001 Bedlam (Volume 1) Paperback – September 1, 2013
About the Author
A general creative muck-a-bout, Stefan is an professional independent game developer, a web designer, and apparently also an author and sometimes supposedly makes music or other forms of art depending on your relative cultural definition thereof. He lives on the Internet and generally is an okay guy.
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City of Angles is a complete work of fantasy, by which I mean that it has a clearly envisioned "universe" within which certain rules apply or don't apply in predictably unpredictable ways -- but within which the moral laws of the "real" world continue to apply. As George MacDonald notes in his essay on "The Fantastic Imagination", these are the two overarching rules that make a work of fantasy complete. As such, even when events are clearly dire and outcomes are ambiguous, City of Angles satisfies the reader who isn't afraid of complexity.
It's not a nice city. People die in it, and that's not the worst thing that can happen to a person. And there's a terrible tension at play, because while the people are real, there is also a sense in which the City is not real, and the people in it are at the mercy of the mystery sustaining their shadow of reality. But you can live in the City of Angles, and those who choose to fully do so are invariably interesting.
Stefan's skill, in addition to making a full world for his characters to inhabit, is in making each character he writes unique. Even those that are filling a role (to use a video-game metaphor, they might be classed as minions, bosses, big bosses, or villagers) have each a unique voice, if they speak at all. There's a character named Millie, for instance, who could (at least so far) easily be very different than what she is and still fulfill the same role in the story -- but considered apart from her story presence, her manner of coping with the world and the way that conditions her behavior would make perfect sense in a real person. In Book 1, her role is small; she may or may not show up in Book 2 as more important. This would not surprise me, as one of Stefan's other skills is in never wasting a character. I can think of only one or two instances in the book where someone does something in a scene, survives, and never appears again.
In short, if you like a well-written story with complex themes, violence and sex as appropriate in the context of the story (no egregious explosions of any sort), and characters with personality, you will like City of Angles.