Janni Lee Simner (janni) wrote in fangs_fur_fey,
Janni Lee Simner
janni
fangs_fur_fey

Terminology and history

As a result of this post, I find myself thinking about the origins of the term "urban fantasy."

I was a little bit startled to find, in the discussion there, the repeated notion that not only the genre, but the term "urban fantasy" is something very new.

At risk of making myself sound a bit dated, I remember, back in college in the late 80s, reading books by Charles de Lint, by Meghan Lindholm, by Emma Bull and the other Scribblies, and--well, first of all, being blown away by them, because their books were unlike anything else I'd read until then--but also, of knowing from pretty ealy on that their work was part of the genre of "urban fantasy," a term that also go used in reviews of their work and in early online communities. (Reached via campus mainframes or by dialup on 1200 baud modems of course--how's that for dated? :-))

Was anyone else here reading these books when they first came out? Do you remember hearing the term as well? (Do you remember being blown away by the books themselves?) (ETA: Okay, here's a 1991 discussion of urban fantasy, which was as far back as I could get a google groups search to go.)

And then in the 90s urban fantasy came to also refer to Laurell Hamilton's work (a writer directly influenced by the above writers), and to some of Mercedes Lackey's work. And somehow we got from there to the current urban fantasy genre.

I'm thinking maybe what's happened is that the shading of what's meant by urban fantasy has shifted over the years. But the term itself is a well-established one.

For that matter--I've heard "urban fantasy" applied to Fritz Lieber and others earlier writers as well, though I don't honestly know if the term was applied retroactively, or if it was used at the time. Anyone else know?
Tags: janni lee simner, watcher questions
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