How About Some Hard, Urban Fantasy?

April 7th, 2009

OK, I know that probably sounds obscene, but I’m hard pressed to come up with a name for what I want to talk about.   What I’m talking about probably exists, but I’m not familiar enough with fantasy these days to know for sure, so I hope someone can help me out.

Urban fantasy has been popular in recent years, from Buffy to Anita Blake to Kitty and the Midnight Hour.   We have vampires and werewolves running around, having problems with their undead boyfriends or demon attacks.   You know, the usual.

Now, one of my kicks is getting the science right in science fiction, and finding ways to educate using science fiction, such as with my astronomy-based anthology Diamonds in the Sky.   Well, with science fiction, you get the same sort of stories and the same sort of readers quite often.   I think it would be refreshing to have some good astronomy in some fantasy books.

See where I’m going with this now?

There are some natural marriages here.   A werewolf should know the phases of the moon and how they work like no one else and be able to lecture their astronomy professor on various subtleties.   Vampires should know all about sunrise and sunset times, length of twilight, etc., as a function of latitude and time of the year.   Most people, and I’m including presumably smart Harvard graduates here (see A Private Universe if you don’t believe me), don’t know how the phases of the moon or the seasons work.   I usually have a few Launch Pad attendees confess they didn’t understand them before the workshop.

The graphic novel/movie 28 Days of Night shows vampires exploiting their knowledge of how the days vanish part of the year above the artic circle.

Constellations and other aspects of the sky are probably useful for astrologers, witches, and other magical folks in fantasy, and I would love to see some real astronomy in there, too, and beyond astronomy there must be all sorts of other scientific concepts that would be essential to understand for different types of beings.

So, do these sorts of fantasy stories with serious astronomy and science exist?   Anyone have some recommendations?   I’d love to be able to ask the National Science Foundation or someone else to fund a fantasy version of Diamonds in the Sky someday.   Students turned off by science fiction might perk up a lot if given the opportunity to read a story about vampires and werewolves, even if it teaches them at what time of day to look for a rising half moon, or to understand why twilight doesn’t last as long in the tropics.


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