I don’t know what it is, but I feel strangely drawn to tales of twisted versions of London, such as Echo Bazaar. I figured maybe others in here shared that fascination too, and so decided to make a topic dedicated to sharing those that have especially delighted us.
I’ll start with Neil Gaiman’s “Neverwhere”, the fantastic, and sometimes chilling, journey of Richard Mayhew, an unsuspecting young londoner, to the bizarre “London Below”, the place for those who have “fallen between the cracks”. Many of you are propably (hopefully?) familiar with Neil Gaiman, and if you are, but have yet to read this, know that this is one of his best works.
If you aren’t familiar with Neil Gaiman or this book, I’m not sure whether or not his authorship is yet proscribed material, but if it is, it’s worth doing the extra work to get your hands on this one, trust me.
I Also immensely enjoyed China Miéville’s “Unlundun”, which is probably one of the most imaginative pieces of fantasy I have read in a long time. In UnLondon you’ll encounter The boss of broken umbrellas, flying London busses and a version of Westminster Abbey, that has an uncanny resemblence to something a spider-council might produce. Oh, and if there are scarrier girafs in litterature, I’m not sure I want to read about them. The book is written as a “young adults” book, but this only means that it’s highly-accessible, suitable for younger readers and adults alike. Oh, and also it’s a great excuse for the auther to include numerous of his own illustrations to acompany the fantastic world he’s created.
I hope to have inspired some of you to give these a read and that there are other kindred spirits that roam these forums, who will inspire with further suggestions for tales of twisted London.
Best reguards and good luck on for future endevors in the Neath
It’s a little tangential, but I’d like to chime in with a recommendation for The Great God Pan by Arthur Machen. Whilst London itself is played straight, so to speak, the cast and happenings I’m certain would appeal to fans of the Bazaar. The text can be acquired freely from Gutenberg.
As for a London altered, the only example I can think of that you haven’t spoke of already is in a short story by Stephen King. Crouch End. My teenage self found it pleasantly unnerving, I’m sure it still holds up.
Take a look at Zelazny’s A Night in the Lonesome October if you can. It (along with Peake’s Gormenghast) have probably been the books with the most influences on my bits of Fallen London.
For those of you who understand German, I can recommend Christopher Marzi’s “Lycidas”. Set in a magical, dark London, it could be described as Gaimanesque, with a Dickesian atmosphere. Be cautious though: some rather revolting themes are not for young eyes.
I love Gormenghast! Thank you, I shall look for that.
Seconding Gormenghast and China Mieville–hell, Mieville’s Bas-Lag books (Perdido Street Station, The Scar and Iron Council) mostly take place in his city New Crobuzon which is basically a freaky alt-verse, steampunk London populated by sapient cactuses and women with beetles for heads. For a similar feel plus seriously gratuitous allusions to fiction of the period I recommend Alan Moore’s League of Extraordinary Gentlemen comics (skip the movie, though.)
Having recently stumbled upon the (free!) short story A Study in Emerald by Mr. Gaiman, I feel a bump is in order. Marvel at the adventure of the Consulting Detective (of Baker Street) and his companion, the Taciturn Veteran, as they investigate a murder in the royal family in a very dark version of London.
edited by Cedric Appleby on 1/21/2012
My copy of “Perdido street station” is possibly the most dog-eared book in my collection, because of all the time I’ve re-read it.
Another favorite author of mine is Philip Pullman, I loved his YA and childrens stuff as a kid, before the “His dark Materials”-trilogy was published. “His Dark Materials” is in itself a possible suggestion, (its actualy my least favorite of his books, I did not like it when CS Lewis derailed a clever fantasy story to deliver a message, and I didn’t like it when Pullman did it either, even though I happen to agree with his message), but the books I really wanted to recommend is the Sally Lockhart series, it’s unfairly obscure and overshadowed by his later stuff, but they are good historical adventure fiction. It’s not all that twisted, though The Shadow in the North does concern the growing flaire for the paranormal in the Victorian era.
Also, I recommend “The Adventure of the Devil’s Foot”, a Sherlock holmes short story by Conan Doyle. Allright, it doesnt take place in London, but it is about as weird and twisted as Sherlock Holmes stories get, and it is one of the classics.
Speaking of Great Detectives, the great Dorothy L. Sayers’ Lord Peter Wimsey stories are absolutely fantastic, and very very English. The first, ‘Whose Body?’, is particularly macabre, and London through and through. I’ve not yet read her last Wimsey story, ‘Thrones, Dominations’, which was unfinished at her death, but I’m told it includes exploration of the tunnels and submerged (shall we say Fallen?) rivers beneath the city.