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Naked City by Ellen Datlow
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Naked City

by Ellen Datlow (Editor)

Other authors: Nathan Ballingrud (Contributor), Peter S. Beagle (Contributor), Elizabeth Bear (Contributor), Holly Black (Contributor), Richard Bowes (Contributor)15 more, Patricia Briggs (Contributor), Jim Butcher (Contributor), Pat Cadigan (Contributor), John Crowley (Contributor), Jeffrey Ford (Contributor), Christopher Fowler (Contributor), Caitlin R. Kiernan (Contributor), Matthew Kressel (Contributor), Ellen Kushner (Contributor), Melissa Marr (Contributor), Naomi Novik (Contributor), Kit Reed (Contributor), Lucius Shepard (Contributor), Delia Sherman (Contributor), Lavie Tidhar (Contributor)

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: The Dresden Files (Short story "Curses", 10.5), Riverside (Short story "The Duke Of Riverside", 1.2)

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3033036,938 (3.35)1 / 17
Recently added byBugetta, kpevjen, mysterysf, private library, CorinasQuill
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Showing 1-5 of 31 (next | show all)
Chock full of stories more slipstream than what I'd call urban fantasy. ( )
  marti.booker | Dec 2, 2013 |
Most of the stories were vignettes, so self-contained that I cared little for the characters and plot; one in particular was so transparent that even as a short story it seemed too long. I found only a handful interesting or enjoyable, but those made the whole book worth it. ( )
  LaPhenix | Nov 18, 2013 |
I was a bit disappointed with this anthology. I liked more stories than I disliked, but I disliked and felt “eh” about more stories than I liked. The stories were very mixed, and that isn’t always a good thing. I picked up an urban fantasy anthology hoping to get an overview of what’s out there in terms of the genre. What I got was a mix of UF, historical fantasy, horror, sci-fi, and literary-style stories. Now, I actually like all of those genres, but if I had wanted to read those, I’d have picked up a book of those.

This was a struggle for me to get through, because I just wasn’t interested after handful of stories. I was running into too many that I either flat out didn’t like or just didn’t care for them. There was a handful that I genuinely enjoyed, but those felt few and far between, though the last section was definitely one of the strongest.

For critiques of individual stories:

Curses by Jim Butcher

I haven’t read any of the Harry Dresden novels, though I did see the short-lived TV series. I like the character of Dresden, and I love Bob, though we don’t see much of him in curses. The story was light and fun, interesting enough to keep me reading, and Butcher’s world is quite creative. That being said, I wasn’t wowed by Curses. I did find that I like Butcher’s writing style and voice enough to try one of the novels though.

How the Pooka Came to New York City by Delia Sherman

My favorite thus far in the anthology (halfway through). I loved Sherman’s voice, her use of history and folklore, and her creativity in establishing her world. I loved the idea and descriptions of “iron sickness”. I really appreciated that her descriptions of work and lodging were accurately bleak for the time. Her central characters were people that I wanted to read and know more about, and the relationship between the human and the pooka was really intriguing. I will definitely be checking out more of her work.

On the Slide by Richard Bowes

The story reads pretty easily, and I likes Bowes voice well enough, but I just wasn’t into the story. I didn’t really care about the narrator, not if he succeeded or failed, and I think that made me feel kind of “blah” about the story. I did like the idea of “sliding” and that the whole thing was set around the filming of this old-style cop flick. I liked the transition at the end and the ending itself, but I think not caring about the narrator really killed the story for me.

The Duke of Riverside by Ellen Kushner

Kushner writes vivid, fascinating characters. That said, I didn’t like this story. The narrative structure really bothered me. She starts writing in first-person, then jumps to third-person, and keeps jumping back and forth. I would have been okay with this if there had been a purpose to it, but there wasn’t one that I could detect. We never get a name or description of the first-person narrator; he is just some nameless, faceless person following the action. There is no reason that we need to know him for this story, no reason for him to narrate instead of just having it third-person throughout. Further, this story is at best traditional fantasy, though even that is a stretch. It feels more historic fiction than anything else. I saw mention of a wizard once, and it total threw me off, because there was no mention of magic otherwise. I realize this is part of Kushner’s Swordspoint world, but this story had no context for it.

Oblivion by Calvin Klein by Christopher Fowler

There isn’t a spot of dialogue for 9 pages. Everything I’ve ever read about writing tells me that is wrong. That said, Fowler kept the story moving without dialogue, and I give him lots of credit for that. However, I think it could have been trimmed down, there was far too much dwelling on name brands, and we really don’t need to know every store she went into and everything she purchased. That tends to get dull, or at least it did for me. The protagonist I couldn’t and wouldn’t have followed for more than a short story, but then I didn’t find her particularly likeable. I did like the end quite a lot, and I liked the message.

Fairy Gifts by Patricia Briggs

I liked this one a lot. I loved the use of a city well known to the author, but rarely seen in fiction (Butte, Montana), the incorporation of history, and the fact that protagonist wasn’t white. I loved the combination of fairies with this particular type of monster; it was different and worked quite well. I found the protagonist to be very sympathetic, and I found his connection with the fairy to be fascinating. I will definitely be picking up a novel in one of her series in the near future.

Picking up the Pieces by Pat Cadigan **Spoilers**

I’m torn on this one. On one hand, I really liked the author’s voice and I liked the protagonist, but on the other, the lack of resolution or explanation bothered me. Two sisters find themselves in Berlin as the wall is coming down, so the younger sister can chase after her boyfriend, who is…unusual. However, we never find out what kind of unusual. I loved the history, really I did, but if you’re going to take me through a whole story, I need a better payoff than he’s part of an “unseen world”.

Underbridge by Peter S. Beagle

I didn’t like or care about the protagonist, and therefore, didn’t give a crap what happened to him. The town was very vivid and original, and I loved the character of the homeless man, but the plot itself didn’t feel that original to me. That’s about it, I didn’t really like this one.

Priced to Sell by Naomi Novik

I liked this author’s voice, and I loved the idea of these realtors tasked with finding apartments for supernatural creatures. I love the apartment with the beetles. But I think the story suffered two things though. One was a lack of high stakes, we were told that the realtors were near out of business, but it didn’t feel that way. The realtors didn’t seem too bothered by that, so I wasn’t too bothered as the reader. The other issue was that while the monsters were quite vivid, the realtor-protagonists were not. It was a really fun story, but I didn’t feel like I knew the protagonists, and if they’re business had shut down it wouldn’t have mattered much to me.

The Bricks of Gelecek by Matthew Kressel

This one took a little patience to get into, but once I did, I found I liked it a lot. The author created her own fantasy elements and creatures, though they seem to be her version of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. I’m not sure if it was the description, or because of the four horsemen, I just felt it was set in biblical times. I can’t remember how much info the story offered in that respect. Kressel got across his character’s struggle and made a force of destruction a sympathetic character. The girl, however, wasn’t as well done in my opinion. She felt almost Mary Sue-ish in that she was too perfect. She was too much the personification of good and innocence. If destruction has a little good, then good should have a little destruction.

Westen Walks by Kit Reed

So, this was another one where I just didn’t care about the protagonist. He bored me, and when I should have felt sympathy or anger on his behalf, I only thought he seemed pathetic. I did however love his method of socializing with people, without having to get close them. I thought that was great. I also really liked the underground NYC, and wish we could have seen more of it and gotten some understanding of it.

The Projected Girl by Lavie Tidhar

I liked this one a lot. The setting in Israel, the mix of history and mystery into the story, and the use of a magician as a character. I find that magicians always make entertaining characters, whether they’re amusing or just interesting. I also thought the young boy worked well as a protagonist, as this story reminded me of the children’s mystery novels I used to read when I was a kid.

The Way Station by Nathan Ballingrud

I really liked the exploration of the aftermath of Katrina through the eyes of a homeless man who used to live there. I loved the author’s idea of ghosts and being haunted and how he illustrated that. All in all I found the world he crafted to be fascinating, and the choice of protagonist bold, but the plot felt a little dull to me.

Guns for the Dead by Melissa Marr

So, I haven’t read Graveminder yet (though I did just get it from the library), so it took a few pages to get comfortable in that world. This was the only story in the book though that left me wanting more. I loved the idea of the afterlife as the wild west, and seeing how these people lived in it. The characters weren’t as vivid as with some of the other stories, but I liked them and wanted to follow them. Definitely one of my favorites in the book.

And Go Like This by John Crowley

I loved the title, so I had high hopes for this one, but I just didn’t get it. It was more sci-fi than fantasy, and kind of dull. There was no real introduction to who “we” was, and that made it hard to get into the story. By the end of the story, I still felt like I had no real idea what or who it was about, beyond the vague idea of some futuristic Ellis Island.

Noble Rot by Holly Black

I really enjoyed this one. I had never seen this particular creature as a protagonist before, so that was pretty original. Agatha and the rock star were both interesting characters and I enjoyed reading about them. It was a good story that kept me interested and had a pretty solid ending. The ending was, however, supposed to be a twist, but it was kind of predictable. Even if predictable, I still found it to be a creative and satisfying ending.

Daddy Longlegs of the Evening by Jeffrey Ford

I hate spiders and this reminded me of Kafka’s The Metamorphosis, because I hated reading that and will never do so again. I don’t like bugs, and I really don’t like giant people-sized bugs. That said, Ford is a damn good writer, with a talent for description, and wove a story that was interesting enough to keep me reading even while I was squirming. Though I would classify this as horror, not urban-fantasy.

The Skinny Girl by Lucius Shepard

I loved the setting in Mexico, and the descriptions in this story. That said, it started out pretty slow, and I think some of the beginning could be cut out as a lot of it was info dump. The protagonist wasn’t all that original, and so wasn’t all that intriguing to me, but he was at least likeable enough to follow. I really liked the idea of “the skinny girl” and would have loved to see more of her odd little home.

The Colliers’ Venus by Caitlin R. Kiernan

I really liked the two protagonists of this story, I liked the world, and the plot was intriguing. I wanted more context. I had a very difficult time placing the setting in a historical context and determining the level of fantasy in Kiernan’s world. The way the author wrote some of the description was rather confusing, and the flipping between Dora and Katherine was also confusing and ultimately, felt like it led nowhere. Aside from the confusing bits though, I did like the story.

King Pole, Gallows Pole, Bottle Tree by Elizabeth Bear

I liked this one a lot. I was pleasantly surprised again by the presence of a homosexual couple in this collection of stories. I liked that idea that there are people (ghosts?) that embody the traits of cities, and as a lover of history, I have a great appreciation for the author’s message about memories. I also quite liked both protagonists, and I found the author’s voice to be strong. This was a very enjoyable read.
  noellekain | Apr 2, 2013 |
Not one I'll be keeping. Enough said? ( )
  Krumbs | Mar 31, 2013 |
Enjoyed several of these stories. "Urban fantasy" has become synonymous for paranormal thriller/romance, but despite the silly title and cover art, Datlow embraces all fantasy in urban settings, collecting stories ranging from gritty to sweet, spanning genres and countries (we even get a few secondary-world fantasies, whose absence always bothers me in fantasy short story collections).

My favorites here were the sweet or humorous stories - "Priced to Sell" by Naomi Novik, chronicling the real estate market in a supernatural Manhattan, probably gave me the most joy. "And Go Like This" by John Crowley is short and awesome.

Book gets a demerit for Patricia Briggs' "Fairy Gifts," which I couldn't finish because I was upset by an incredibly offensive portrayal of a character with Down's Syndrome. Maybe she was going somewhere not awful with that, but I couldn't wait around for it to happen, particularly as it was accompanied by questionable portrayals of Asian American characters and some pretty darn awful writing. (Based on Datlow's blog, I'm speculating this story was a last minute addition from a big-name author, since her preliminary Table of Contents omits it.) ( )
  raschneid | Mar 31, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 31 (next | show all)
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."
added by nsblumenfeld | editBooklist
 

» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Datlow, EllenEditorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Ballingrud, NathanContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Beagle, Peter S.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bear, ElizabethContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Black, HollyContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bowes, RichardContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Briggs, PatriciaContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Butcher, JimContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Cadigan, PatContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Crowley, JohnContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Ford, JeffreyContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Fowler, ChristopherContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Kiernan, Caitlin R.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Kressel, MatthewContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Kushner, EllenContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Marr, MelissaContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Novik, NaomiContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Reed, KitContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Shepard, LuciusContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Sherman, DeliaContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Tidhar, LavieContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Dos Santos, DanCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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For my parents, Doris and Nathan Datlow, whom I love dearly and who infected me with their love for reading.
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The term urban fantasy was originally applied to fantasy written in reaction to the works most popular up to the early 1980's -- high-fantasy, imaginary worlds with medieval trappings.
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An anthology of gritty supernatural tales of magic and mischief by leading genre authors includes an original "Harry Dresden" by Jim Butcher, Patricia Briggs' story about a vampire who must save the Fae who lifted his curse, and Holly Black's short pieceabout a rock star who discovers a young woman's unnatural appetites.… (more)

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