Favourite SF or Fantasy City?

Werthead

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So you fancy taking a weekend break into your favourite fantasy novel. Which bustling metropolis do you enjoy spending time in? Taking it easy in Lankhmar? Strutting your stuff in Minas Tirith? Or ducking for cover in Ankh-Morpork? Some of my favourites:

1) Ankh-Morpork: The dominant city of Terry Pratchett's Discworld series. A colourful, bustling city where all human life can be found! Although, quite often, only briefly! Also the only city on the list to have been torched for the insurance money and where people can walk across the river's surface. Imports: trouble and tourism. Exports: cabbages and trouble.

2) Minas Tirith: The capital city of Gondor from Tolkien's Lord of the Rings may be a somewhat austere fortress-city spending centuries under constant threat of utter annihilation from nearby Mordor, but these people still know how to party. Actually, they don't. Still, if there is a city you want to feel relatively well-defended in, Minas Tirith does have seven walls to protect you and a 700-foot balcony you can hurl yourself off (being on fire is optional) when all seems lost. The book version, unlike the movie one, does actually come with half-decent soldiers and surrounding fields so the populace doesn't starve to death. Minas Tirith is such a great city that it was 'paid tribute' in Terry Brooks' The Sword of Shannara in the form of the city of Tyrsis which, erm, is virtually identical. Except, instead of being attacked by a horde of evil orcs, Tyrsis was attacked by a horde of evil gnomes. The Dark Lord of Brooks' world obviously has a more limited budget to work with.

3) New Crobuzon: The dark steampunk/fantasy/SF crossbreed of China Mieville's Perdido Street Station and its following books is a curious melting pot of insectoid humans, strange creatures who like building sculptures out of water and sentient cactuses (or indeed cactii). How many over fantasy cities have their own tube network? Make sure you avoid political dissidence or having your subconscious eaten by a slake-moth, and you'll be fine.

4) Krondor: The Western Capital of the Kingdom of the Isles in Raymond E. Feist's Riftwar books is everything you want from a medieval fantasy city, from a trusty thieves' guild to welcoming temples to a curiously enlightened rulership. Also has the virtue of being the only city on this list to have been deliberately blown off the face of its planet by its rulers as part of a military stratagem. Later rebuilt on the cheap and no longer as impressive.

5) Camorr: The city-state featured in Scott Lynch's The Lies of Locke Lamora is an interesting, Mediterranean-esque city of canals and bridges, divided into numerous districts which are battled over by criminal gangs and the nobility. However, vast, ancient and alien buildings dominate the city from an unknown point in the distant past. The city is known for its many uses for horse urine, which is available in industrial quantities at surprisingly short notice.

6) Gondolin: The greatest city of the elves in the history of Middle-earth, a settlement which makes Minas Tirith look like a Butlins holiday camp. Built in the middle of a vast volcanic caldera, Gondolin survived detection by the forces of the Dark Lord Morgoth for centuries until it was destroyed. Gondolin was so hard-core that it took a massive combined army of dragons and balrogs to take it down and many of those were slain in the process. Nice.

7) Braavos: Greatest of the Free Cities of George RR Martin's world of A Song of Ice and Fire, Braavos spreads across a hundred islands in a vast lagoon defended by tall mountains rising from the sea. The economic powerhouse of Martin's world, Braavos brings the neighbouring Seven Kingdoms to the point of collapse after they default on their loans from Braavos' bank. Braavos is also the home of the uber-badass assassins' guild known as the Faceless Men, is religiously tolerant and has a really cool giant statue known as the Titan to serve as both tourist attraction and defensive emplacement.

8 ) Darujhistan: Greatest of the Free Cities of Steven Erikson's continent of Genabackis in The Malazan Book of the Fallen, Darujhistan is a pretty nifty city of merchants and nobles. The entire city is a bit of a character in the books, ducking and diving, playing both ends against the middle and somehow always ending up with money in its pocket. Also known for being powered by natural gas caverns under the city and occasionally being invaded by the odd undead entity of tremendous destructive power.

9) Gormenghast: A city-sized castle of immense age, built on the unchanging continuation of age-old ritual. Gormenghast and its various eccentric inhabitants are described with great power and majesty by Peake, who goes on to flood the city-castle and overturn its old rituals when the young lord flees into the wilderness.

10) Sigil: Located at the heart of the Multiverse, Sigil is accessible from many different planes and universes, and provides access to many different realities from its infinite battery of hidden portals and doors. Ruled over by the engimatic and arbritarily violent Lady of Pain, 'The Cage' (as it is known) is home to a thousand different species from across all of existence. Sigil is the principal city of the defunct Planescape setting for Dungeons and Dragons and the various spin-off novels, but its finest hour came in the computer game Planescape: Torment, which instantly made it a rival for any of the above.

Also in the running but didn't make the grade: Tar Valon from Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time, Nargothrond and Khazad-dum from Middle-earth, Waterdeep and Menzoberranzan from Forgotten Realms, King's Landing and Oldtown from A Song of Ice and Fire, Malaz City and Capustan from the Malazan Book of the Fallen. Also Leiber's Lankhmar, but I need to read the books first ;)

Other thoughts, suggestions?
 

Thadlerian

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Alas, I have no copy of Italo Calvino's Invisible Cities at hand, so I cannot wholeheartedly participate in this thread...
 

Carolyn Hill

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I'm fond of Thornburg-on-the-Lunn, the town in Teresa Edgerton's Goblin Moon. It's got a bit of everything: coffins in the river, pink-cheeked farmers' daughters hawking wares in the market, and taxidermists, apothecaries, and booksellers in tiny crowded shops, plus crumbling churches, neo-classical villas, public parks, and shabbily gentile buildings, all spread out like a starfish straddling the creepy river Lunn: "a capricious sort of town, a town of many contrasts, ancient and young, rollicking and cruel [. . .] where men and dwarves and gnomes lived amicably side by side" (16).
 

Azathoth

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Yup, Sigil has my vote as one of the coolest SF/Fantasy cities ever. And how about the Ship, from Frank Herbert's "The Jesus Incident?" A massive spacecraft controlled by an Artificial Intelligence which is worshipped by those onboard as God...that is so cool.
 

Brys

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Werthead said:
So you fancy taking a weekend break into your favourite fantasy novel. Which bustling metropolis do you enjoy spending time in? Taking it easy in Lankhmar? Strutting your stuff in Minas Tirith? Or ducking for cover in Ankh-Morpork? Some of my favourites:
...
Those were the ones I was going to suggest - especially New Crobuzon, Camorr, Darujhistan, Gormenghast and Lankhmar. The only one of those I don't know about is Sigil.
I would add to that list:
Linear City
Viriconium
Ambergris (from City of Saints and Madmen)
Ashamoil (from The Etched City)
and Deepgate (from Scar Night)
 

Daeruin

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Aug 22, 2006
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Minas Tirith and Gondolin were both cool fortresses, but my vote has to go with Rivendell.
 

Memnoch

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Daeruin said:
Minas Tirith and Gondolin were both cool fortresses, but my vote has to go with Rivendell.

Rivendell the Lake district of Middle Earth class!!

Hmmm Barter Town Mad Max (Although a film!!) Cud trade me bird in lol :D
 

Jen526

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Lankhmar is definitely my favorite.

I've also always loved Liavek, of the shared-world series of the same name.
 

willwalder

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Sep 26, 2006
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Hi Rane,

My name's Will and I work for BBC Radio Wiltshire. I was wondering if it would be possible have a chat to you about Science Fiction and Fantasy please.

My number is 01793 440133.

Have a top day,

Will
 

T5.2

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My favorite scifi city is Diaspar (from Arthur C Clarke's book The City And The Stars)...I would do anything to live there.
 

Droptrooper

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Sep 29, 2006
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Hi, interesting place to start posting.

My favourite fantasy cities are Lankhmar and Sanctuary. I quite enjoy Haven in the Hawk & Fisher stories too. There is always a special affection for Ankh Morpork.

Science Fiction Cities? Mega City One. Alexandria in the Arabesk trilogy. It's hard to find a detailed city like a fantasy one, planetary systems on the other hand.......
 
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