SF with Real-World Settings

Extollager

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Many of us will not be traveling this year, but we can read about distant locations.

This thread is for suggestions about science fiction stories that are set in identifiable real-world locations as they have been, as they are, or as they might be in the very near future.

So what are some good sf stories and novels set in places such as these?

London
rural Wisconsin
the Amazonian rain forest
Tokyo
the Kerguelen Islands
Florence, Italy
Los Angeles
the Rocky Mountains
Paris
Hobart, Tasmania
Mumbai/Bombay
Lagos
Stockholm
San Francisco

The place doesn't have to be a typical vacation destination, but it should be a place(s) you could actually go to, if not for Covid, etc.

My preference would be to disqualify imaginary locations such as John Wyndham's Midwich but not Wyndham's London (Day of the Triffids), etc.

Ideally the sense of location should be pretty strong, so that the reader experiences a "vacation" to it as he or she reads the story.

There'll be some debatable ones, naturally, such as Le Guin's Portland, Oregon, in The Lathe of Heaven.
 

Extollager

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I'm afraid that, if we allow fantasy, we might also allow the horror genre, and those could kind of swamp the discussion -- at least, I have the impression that it's very common for horror writers to use real locations.
 

Extollager

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Well, let's have a thread on fantasy with real-world settings!

 

Extollager

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I said above one could suggest books set in the past, present, or very near future. Could we stick to the relatively recent past, to keep the "vicarious vacation" aspect? Thus, I'd say Connie Willis's books about time travel to World War 2-era London would qualify but not Doomsday Book.

I have a hunch we're going to see a lot of London books, which is fine!
 

Venusian Broon

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M John Harrison's Light is partially set in London around about 2000. And is SF. I'm not sure you would want to vacate there...but it really resonated with me. (I believe he lived in Hackney nearby where I lived when I was in London, so that makes sense!)

Neal Stephenson's Baroque Cycle goes to a large number of places - mainly European and a lot of the time in London. It's author characterises it as SF, although it takes place 1660-1714 as he focuses on science and technology and there is a lot of weirdness. It's definitely not historical fiction, nor fantasy.

Alastair Grey's Lanark is a take on Glasgow. Both real and some sort of different version. You might say it is more 'fantasy' rather than SF. But combines "realist and dystopian surrealist" as Wikipedia states.

More London - 1984 and Brave New world. Again neither place a good holiday spot, but different versions of London really. Oh, why not throw in A Drowned World by J.G. Ballard as well.

San Franciso - A Scanner Darkly by Philip K. Dick. Nuff said.

A bit more upbeat, remember really enjoyed The Fountains of Paradise by Arthur C. Clarke - Sri Lanka.
 

hitmouse

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Moorcock's Hawkmoon books are set in a far future UK and Europe.
SF set in Calcutta (Kolkata): The Diary of a Space Traveller and Other Stories Satyajit Ray, Mosquito and Other Stories Premendra mitra
 

hitmouse

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More Ballard:
SuperCannes is set in...Cannes
Cocaine Nights is set on the Costa del Sol
 

tachyon

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The movie "Sneakers", arguably a SF movie, is set in San Francisco and the SF bay / Silicon Valley area.
Kim Stanley Robinson's "New York 2140" is very New York, Manhattan mostly.
 

dannymcg

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I'm thinking Emergence by David R Palmer but I don't have a copy to hand to check.

Was it not set in part on somewhere called the Blue Ridge Parkway?

It's been a while so I may be wrong
 

Vince W

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Portions of Eric Brown's Enginemen take place in Paris.
 

Bick

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London - neverwhere (Neil Gaiman), Day of the Triffids (John Wyndham) to name only two
rural Wisconsin - Lots of Clifford D. Simak
the Amazonian rain forest - Phylogenesis (Alan Dean Foster)
Tokyo - Hard-Boiled wonderland at the end of the world (Haruki Murakami)
the Kerguelen Islands - Avon: A Terrible Aspect (Paul Darrow)
Florence, Italy - ??
Los Angeles - Do Androids Dream of Electric Sleep, Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said (both PKD)
the Rocky Mountains - The Dog Stars (Peter Heller)
Paris - Paris in the Twentieth Century (Jules Verne)
Hobart, Tasmania - ??
Mumbai/Bombay - ??
Lagos- Lagoon (Nnedi Okorafor)
Stockholm - Let the Right One In (John Ajvide Lindqvist)
San Francisco - The City, Not Long After (Pat Murphy), The Scarlet Plague (Jack London)

I struggled with Florence, Hobart and Mumbai.

Also, not in your list -

Oxford - Greybeard (Brian Aldiss)
New York - The Stochastic Man (Silverberg)
Magdeburg - 1632verse books (Eric Flint)
 

Extollager

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Oh, Bick, mostly I just put a bunch of cities and other places out there to try to get ideas rolling -- help people to think of a very wide range of possible locations; but I don't know if there are any sf stories set in some of them. I admit I was thinking of Simak, though, when I wrote "rural Wisconsin." But thanks for such a nifty list! (The one you list for Stockholm, though, isn't that horror rather than sf?)

So we have rural Wisconsin & Simak, but can't anyone think of any other good science fiction stories with Midwestern settings? Not even something set in Chicago? But I don't seem to be able to, offhand. Is there maybe some sf story dealing with dinosaur remains in South Dakota or Nebraska -- ?

Thanks, all so far...
 

Extollager

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Did John Varley set anything in Portland, Oregon? Didn't he live there at some point?
 

williamjm

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I live in Cambridge and it occasionally shows up in SF novels, I can think of Timescape by Gregory Benford, Making History by Stephen Fry and Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency by Douglas Adams.

Ian McDonald also has a cracking novel set in Belfast :)
Is that Sacrifice of Fools?

Ian McDonald's books often seem to heavily involve their physical location, whether it is India (River of Gods), Brazil (Brazyl) or Turkey (The Dervish House).
 
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Jo Zebedee

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I live in Cambridge and it occasionally shows up in SF novels, I can think of Timescape by Gregory Benford[/i], Making History by Stephen Fry and Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency by Douglas Adams.



Is that Sacrifice of Fools?

Ian McDonald's books often seem to heavily involve their physical location, whether it is India (River of Gods), Brazil (Brazyl) or Turkey (The Dervish House).
That’s the one. And yeah I just missed the editing window to expand and say just how much Ian rocks at real world setting so glad you have :)
 

augustlynch

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The wormwood trilogy by Tade Thompson has scenes that take place in Lagos and the rest of Nigeria even though most of it is set in the fictional town of Rosewater.
 

tegeus-Cromis

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M. John Harrison's Signs of Life is set in a very slightly alternate version of 1990s London. Well, it's precisely the London of John Major and Tony Blair (and there's a very strong sense of place -- Harrison is always very specific about which part of London, or even which street, events are happening in), but with much more advanced bioengineering technologies.
 
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