Publisher Angry Robot sure has been busy lately! I’m honored to be hosting yet another AR author today, and this time it’s Carrie Patel, and the second book in her Recoletta series, Cities and Thrones, is out next week! I’ve had this series on my radar for quite some time but haven’t had time to read it yet. But now that book two is about to hit the streets, it’s a perfect time to dive in. Carrie’s guest post is all about her favorite fictional cities in speculative fiction, some of which you may recognize:-D So please help me welcome Carrie to the blog!
In Good Company – Great Cities of Speculative Fiction
Air travel grows more unpleasant with each merger and point devaluation, but fortunately, the worlds of science fiction and fantasy are always easy to reach. You can visit them from a couch or a lawn chair (where the leg room is plentiful), and the fares are never too expensive.
Thanks to many wonderful authors, I’ve had the pleasure of touring imagined cities that have intrigued and inspired me as both a reader and an author. Here are a few of my favorites.
New Atlantis from Neal Stephenson’s The Diamond Age: Or, A Young Lady’s Illustrated Primer – While I love the world-building in every Stephenson novel I’ve read, what stands out about The Diamond Age is the extent to which societies proactively build the places they want to inhabit.
People in the world of The Diamond Age may join tribes or “phyles” to accommodate the culture that seems most useful and appealing to them. These phyles, in turn, organize themselves into various claves where they can live and work according to their own rules and principles.
New Atlantis is a phyle rather than a clave, but the spaces the Atlanteans inhabit take on a character of their own. This is influenced by the character of the Atlanteans themselves, self-styled Victorians with an interest in both the adaptable technology of “matter compilers” and in the authenticity of certain handmade goods.
Ondinium from Dru Pagliassotti’s Clockwork Heart – The steampunk fantasy of Ondinium scratches all of my world-building itches. Politics are built into the city’s architecture; Ondinium is divided into three sectors, which are inhabited by three defined castes.
Yet there’s nuance to the way these castes are presented. The Exalteds are portrayed as being both privileged and weighed down by their own traditions and excess. They wear heavy robes and elaborate hairstyles that attract the admiration of the lower classes but that ultimately slow them down.
And, of course, the machinery (political and otherwise) that runs the city provides plenty of intrigue, too.
Seattle from Cherie Priest’s Boneshaker – Yes, Seattle is a real place, but the version in Ms. Priest’s novel is not. Thankfully.
Alternate Seattle is one of those perfect speculative fiction cities that you’d never want to set foot in but that you can’t look away from. It’s a walled-in city polluted with a deadly blight gas that reanimates corpses into ravenous, zombie-like creatures.
But what’s most interesting about the setting is the underworld that develops around it. The walled city becomes a haven for enterprising criminals, and the complex network of tunnels and routes threads through the ruins of a once-prosperous neighborhood.
Sky from N. K. Jemisin’s The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms – Like Ondinium, Sky is a place defined by intrigue and scheming. It’s grand and depraved in equal measure, and it’s all the more dangerous for its seductive beauty. Sky presents an exquisite puzzle, and the reader is constantly challenged to understand its limits and dimensions. The same can be said for the characters who inhabit it.
It’s a magnificent and beguiling city to get lost in, and it remains in that perfect twilight of mystery and clarity. As vividly as it’s depicted, it’s always a little too glorious, and a little too cruel, to truly grasp.
About the author:
Carrie Patel was born and raised in Houston, Texas. An avid traveller, she studied abroad in Granada, Spain and Buenos Aires, Argentina.
She completed her bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Texas A&M University and worked in transfer pricing at Ernst & Young for two years.
She now works as a narrative designer at Obsidian Entertainment in Irvine, California, where the only season is Always Perfect.
About Cities and Thrones:
In the fantastical, gaslit underground city of Recolleta, Oligarchs from foreign states and revolutionaries from the farming communes vie for power in the wake of the city’s coup. The dark, forbidden knowledge of how the city came to be founded has been released into the world for all to read, and now someone must pay.
Inspector Liesl Malone is on her toes, trying to keep the peace, and Arnault’s spy ring is more active than ever. Has the city’s increased access to knowledge put the citizens in even more danger? Allegiances change, long-held beliefs are adjusted, and things are about to get messy.