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Kistaro Windrider, Reptillian Situation Assessor

Unfortunately, I Really Am That Nerdy

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kistaro
  • 01:11 Just spent the day hanging out with friends. I guess this is how normal people spend weekends? It worked out! #
  • 13:48 Experimenting with SPB Mobile Shell. It looks like a good Today replacement, so far. Blows TF3D out of the water easily. #
  • 20:40 Watching the premiere of V on Hulu. Yes, eight day timeshifts suck, but it's better than no chance to watch at all... #
  • 21:33 Looking for a good urban fantasy novel with a dragon as a major (or main, even better) character. Any recommendations? #
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I can't think of any dragoncentric urban fantasy off the top of my head. I guess this means I'll have to write some! You've probably read my TTU short stories featuring dragons [more], but no novels yet* ... not until I finally feel confident in tackling Ash and the Redeemers.

You could see if there are any Shadowrun novels that fit the bill; the setting has a number of prominently placed dragons, in particular Dunkelzahn (who caused all sorts of havoc after he died, but that's a long story). Did anyone else suggest anything?

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* Unless you count Riselmian's scenes in Legend of Hero, but that was trying to play more as straight fantasy with an urban twist.

Rawr at dragons as major in urban fantasy. <3 ... if you find one, keep us posted.

Having thought about this overnight, I would like to add Temeraire to the suggestion list. It's more alternate history than urban fantasy, but that does at least bring the recommendations list up to date to the Napoleonic Wars ...

(I haven't read Temeraire or directly talked to any friends who have, but I have heard via vague word of mouth that it's good.)

Also, considering that it's currently NaNoWriMo and I'm trying to spawn 50,000 words of various random crap (definitely not a novel this year, but otherwise open), tell me what you'd like to see! Hand me a specific scenario or theme or something to hook a TTU short story around, and I'll throw it to the NaNo wall and see what sticks.

Suggestions farther afield

Obligatory pointer to the Therian/Otherkin Book List. Duh! ;-p And its companion LJ community, t_o_book_club.

Also, if you are a gamer (i.e., of tabletop RPGs), you have a LOT more options. The previously mentioned Shadowrun prominently features dragons in a gritty near-future sci-fi setting (though your ability to play them is more limited). Rifts probably has rules for dragon PCs if you're the powergaming sort. And Fireborn* is a game in which all the PCs are reincarnated dragons in urban-fantasy Earth, and the game flips back and forth between modern-day dragons-in-superpowered-human-bodies and flashback sequences to your former dragon-in-dragon-bodies selves.

Fireborn, alas, is now out of print, but you can still find new/used PHBs and GMGs on Amazon/eBay/etc for $15 or less; or if you're not proud, do some google searches for the PDFs and self-print. I'm actually about a month from starting up a Fireborn campaign with my local roleplaying group, but the commute from Seattle down here might be a bit of a bear. :-\

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* Commonly AKA "Dragon: The Burninating".

Urban fantasy... you know, now that you mention it, it seems like most of the genre doesn't center around dragons, but around elves, fairies, mermaids, and other humanoids that fit into urban environments better.

Ariel is a very gritty post-apocalyptic urban fantasy whose second main character is a unicorn, and although it has dragons in it, I wasn't too satisfied with 'em... they don't talk, and their chemical physiology sounded aaaawfully similar to the ones in Flight of Dragons. I wrote some pretty interesting revisionist fan-fiction for that book, way back when I first read it.

Hmm... Dragons Can Only Rust is steampunk fantasy, not urban fantasy.

Dragons: The Modern Infestation is fantasy in a modern setting, but not urban. Ask elynne about it, it's one of her favorites.

Mercedes Lackey wrote a stack of urban fantasy novels, but I haven't read them yet, so I don't know what supernatural creatures play a part in them. Anyone?

I've never even heard of this before... I've read Yasmine Galenorn's nonfiction and it was good, but apparently she's written an urban fantasy/paranormal romance series. Book 4 is called "Dragon Wytch," apparently starring a half-Fae woman in a corset who is being "claimed" by "Smoky, the sexiest dragon alive." (Quote from the official site.)

Ariel? Oh, that takes me back. Wasn't that the one with the main character a virgin, which becomes a plot point later on? And there was hang-gliding, because anything more complicated than a lever failed to operate but the Bernoulli effect still lifted winglike shapes? ;-p

I have a feeling that the Galenorn series reads something like "Anita Blake Of The Dragons." I admit to a morbid curiosity about exactly what makes dragons sexy to the sort of reader likely to read urban fantasy romance, but ... well ... um.

I dimly remember reading The Modern Infestation in high school, if it's the same book you're talking about. Wasn't it a mock field guide of sorts? Not exactly a novel in the traditional sense, though admittedly really clever.

Which also reminds me that there's a long out-of-print book by Hazard Adams called The Truth About Dragons which is, in its own way, an urban fantasy retelling of the whole dragon-and-princess thing from the dragon's point of view. It doesn't read at all like fantasy, but it might be worth a look.

Anita Blake has an article strictly longer than the article on Steve Ballmer, and longer than the article on Barack Obama if you go by content length and ignore the five pages of category boxes on the President. This amuses me, but fails to surprise me.

As far as I can tell from browsing the book synopses in the Erotica section of Fictionwise, in which dragons are astonishingly prevalent among the bestsellers, they're a convenient drop-in for a male lead who is presented as being honorable, respectable, powerful, and apparently ideal, while holding views on gender roles, independence, and possessiveness that would fit perfectly in the 20s. It lets the author set gender equality back about ninety years, set the book in the present, and then address exactly none of the issues someone with such an attitude in the present era would actually bring up. These views usually abruptly become a sticking point in the fourth book; the debate is cleanly resolved with no change to any of the characters involved in time for the fifth, naturally.

As far as I can tell from the book snippets, anyway; I haven't bought any of these. They seem to go out of their way to avoid the actual interesting themes. Interspecies romance is simplified to stock-standard forbidden love, with no appreciable alien-ness to the society, culture, or thought patterns of these dragons relative to human psychology, again ignoring the ninety-year lag in gender relations. Just giving the aforementioned male lead such very human psychology makes the character less interesting, honestly.

And as for "sexy", they're all shapeshifters, at least with regard to shifting into conventionally attractive humans. Which is how I know I'm not part of the target market; I really don't think the shapeshifting is an improvement. :D

Re: Anita Blake -- Wikipedia's kind of like that. ;-P

I am in no way a fan of the genre, but as far as I can tell, gender roles in romance novels in general (not just the fantasy ones) do exactly what you describe. The fact that fantastic* romance does the same is disappointing, but not surprising. As a dragon I suppose I should be flattered that we get some recognition as the noble, powerful, honorable beasts that we are, but there definitely could stand to be some more progressive attitudes.

Not to mention allowing species differences, as you mention. Though it's going to be rare to find good characterizations of nonhumans as psychologically nonhuman, period; let's not forget that pretty much the central conceit of furry fandom is anthropomorphization, and there's a much tinier niche for the inverse.

Anyway!

Curious if you ever did have any requests for dragoncentric NaNo stories (as mentioned upthread). I'm setting aside a writing slot for you should you wish to pitch me something. And the current novella is about two dragons' dangerous love; I'd be happy to forward that on when I have a draft completed, if you want to be one of my beta readers ...

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* Used in the sense of "relating to fantasy," NOT the sense of "exceptionally good."

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