“A cheeky look at 26 cities from fantastic literature (“fantastic” and “literature,” defined loosely), supposedly an academic work (complete with introduction by Professor Henry V. Duncan). Loving, clever, entertaining, and of course as we expect from Hal Duncan, quite excellently written.” — Rich Horton, Locus
No. 10 in the Small Beer Press chapbook series is An A-Z of the Fantastic City. Compiled and Arranged by Hal Duncan and illustrated by Eric Schaller, it also features an introduction by noted academic Henry V. Duncan.
This guidebook leads readers and explorers through twenty-six cities of yore (Yore, while included, is one of the shorter entries), including such familiar and unfamiliar haunts as
A city of saints and madmen, Ambergris sits on the banks of the River Moth, over the ruins of dead Cinsorium. The genocide of Cinsorium’s inhabitants, the Grey Caps, who even now skulk and screech in the sewers and side-streets of Ambergris and in its present inhabitants’ minds, is a crime that pervades the atmosphere of the city, along with the spores and mycelia of fungi — green, and gold, and blue, and red like blood — which infest the city as they infest the body and mind of its foremost chronicler, Jeff VanderMeer, a brilliant scholar but unreliable, believing as he does that Ambergris is a figment of his imagination, and that any evidence to the contrary is part of an elaborate delusion on his part...
Visitors to Dublin have at their hand quite possibly the most invaluable tour guide ever written for any city, in the shape of Joyce’s four-volume work: Things To Do in Dublin as a Young Man; The People of Dublin; Dublin, A Day In The Life; and Dublin At Night. Nowhere is the full scope of a city’s cultural character explored in as great a depth as in Joyce’s seminal travelogues of Dublin’s boarding houses, bars and brothels...
The firm of Ackroyd, Moorcock and Sinclair, Solicitors, is the oldest existing company on record, dating back to the dawn of Albion in the foundation of Trynovantium, or New Troy, the settlement which was to go through a few more names — Caerlundein, Londinium — before settling on its present day nomenclature of London...
Not all cities are for humans...
Sexy, secretive, yet clear-eyed, Duncan brings pop, high, and low cultures together in one handy A-Z which every bibliophile and armchair adventurer will find to be a necessary guidebook through the temerarious pages of international literature.
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Hal Duncan is a Scottish science fiction and fantasy writer based in Glasgow. A graduate of Glasgow University, his first book, Vellum, about a war between heaven and hell, was released in 2005. It has since been translated into several other languages and nominated to the World Fantasy Award and Locus Award. Ink, the follow up, was released in 2007.
Picture: Hal Duncan in Polcon 2007. Photo by Szymon Sokół. Source: Wikimedia Commons.