Alternate London Fantasy
January 31, 2008 5:46 PM   Subscribe

Need Longform Alternate London Fantasy, please.

I recently finished Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, and am jonesing for some more reading, and I figured that: I've enjoyed the aforementioned book, as well as Perdido Street Station and Macleod's The Light Ages, so I seem to have a pattern: I like long, literate, dark, fantastic novels set in an Alternate (or surrogate) London.
Would you be so kind as to recommend others? Long is good, say at least 800 pages. I have already read all of mr. Nieville's novels. Extra points of said novels are available on BookMooch.
posted by signal to Media & Arts (22 answers total) 31 users marked this as a favorite
I don't know about 800 pages, but Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman meets your other requirements.
posted by MythMaker at 5:49 PM on January 31, 2008 [3 favorites]

Neverwhere is what immediately jumped to my mind, too. It's only 400 pages long, but still.
posted by dersins at 5:51 PM on January 31, 2008

Have you read any Michael Moorecock? He's written a helluva lot of that sort of thing. I'd recommend Mother London, not his most fantastic (as in, woo-woo made-up stuff, not as in quality) book, but a good starting point.

Some of Angela Carter's novels might satisfy. The Magic Toyshop isn't anywhere near as long a book as you've asked for, but hits all the other points.

If you don't mind reading (very, very good) children's novels, there's the whole Wolves of Willoughby Chase series by Joan Aiken.

Can you tell this is one of my fave sub-genres?
posted by Tomatillo at 6:02 PM on January 31, 2008

A very large part of Neil Stephenson's Baroque Cycle is set in London. Although it's historical fiction, it's pretty dark and written by someone with a definite sci-fi perspective.
posted by amtho at 6:14 PM on January 31, 2008

Response by poster: I've already read Neverwhere and the Baroque Cycle. While I enjoyed both, I'm looking for something more victorianish and alternate-historyesque.
posted by signal at 6:16 PM on January 31, 2008

You seem to have encountered the ones that spring immediately to my mind already. Given that, this may be a bit obvious, but have you tried The Difference Engine?
posted by Paragon at 6:33 PM on January 31, 2008

How about The Other 19th Century or The Steampunk Trilogy? They're both short story collections, but they are very victorianish and alternate-historyesque.
posted by emyd at 6:42 PM on January 31, 2008

Does alternate-universe Oxford count? His Dark Materials trilogy is pretty awesome. (Now a major motion picture!)
posted by designbot at 6:42 PM on January 31, 2008

Court of the Air by Stephen Hunt is very like Jonathan Strange in feel but with extra steampunk. It's not London, but something very close.

For a completely alternative (Vampiric!) London, I'd also suggest Anno Dracula by Kim Newman. The book has cameo's by various characters both real and fictional. The book is out of print but easy to find second hand - it's a bit of a light read, but fun if you like vampires.
posted by ninazer0 at 6:43 PM on January 31, 2008

Oh, also...I second the Difference Engine, I'd also say the Golden Compass feels like this (not linking because you've probably read it), Darwinia started out this way and then turned bad, The Anubis Gates is a fun one, though not alternate history, really, and To Say Nothing of the Dog is absolutely charming and hilarious, although it is not alternate history. You've already read the best ones, I'm afraid.
posted by emyd at 6:49 PM on January 31, 2008

Some thoughts, mostly close misses:
The Difference Engine, William Gibson & Bruce Sterling
Death of the Necromancer, Martha Wells (more Paris than London, probably, but a good story)
I think The Anubis Gates (Tim Powers) is mostly set in London
Philip Reeve's "Hungry City" YA novels... sort of.
posted by hattifattener at 6:50 PM on January 31, 2008

Oo, The Anubis Gates is indeed a good one: Victorian, London, dark (but not too long, unfortunately). It's not an alternate history so much as a 'secret' history, though: the events are the same, but the causes and agents are quite different.
posted by Paragon at 6:58 PM on January 31, 2008

So you read Mieville's "King Rat", and his newest "Un Lun Dun"? If you liked them, then you definitely have to pick up Gaiman's Neverwhere.

And if you liked Neverwhere, try The Napoleon of Notting Hill by G. K. Chesterton, which was Gaiman's inspiration. You can get it for free as an ebook.

And if you think you might like an alternate-other-city for Venice instead of London, try The Thief Lord by Cornelia Funke. YA, but still pretty good.
posted by gemmy at 7:47 PM on January 31, 2008

The Borribles: Immortal Children make their way across contemporary London and battle Rats of Unusual Size for control of... well, that's the question, innit?
posted by SPrintF at 8:30 PM on January 31, 2008

If you extend your preference to alternate Britain, I can't recommend Robert Holdstock enough. Start with Mythago Wood, it's fantastic. Also the Glass Books of the Dream Eaters by GW Dahlquist is alternate london ( i guess) but it gets a bit tedious near the end.
posted by dhruva at 11:00 PM on January 31, 2008

Oh, The Borribles! Mieville cites that as one of his most profound influences. That stuff is super dark, man.
posted by emyd at 11:23 PM on January 31, 2008

The Glass Books of the Dream Eaters will rock your boat. It's clearly London-not-London, long, dense and with a sequel in the works.
posted by Hogshead at 2:41 AM on February 1, 2008

Slightly left-field suggestion: "From Hell" by Alan Moore. It's long (for a graphic novel), literate, dark and fantastical. It is also set in Victorian times, and it is preoccupied by the relationship between London, mythology and magic. The magic ritual(s) that occur in the book would sate any jonesing you had for dark magic driven by big ideas.

I think the only thing it might fall down vs your criteria is whether it's set in surrogate London. To me, it is - I think, Alan Moore is interpreting the Ripper story as much as he is recording it, and Eddie Campbell's style definitely took me into another world.
posted by laumry at 4:30 AM on February 1, 2008

Continuing with the Alan Moore theme, you can 't not mention The League, even if they're not that long.
(Great thread by the way, I plan to read everything in it)
posted by greytape at 6:24 AM on February 1, 2008

Philip Reeve's Mortal Engines Quartet is set in a fantastical post-apocalyptic London. Not as long as Jonathan Strange, but there are four books, so at least they add up! It's the first sentence that really grabs you: "It was a dark, blustery afternoon in spring, and the city of London was chasing a small mining town across the dried-out bed of the old North Sea". It's well worth checking out the rest of it for it's wonderfully dark world of traction cities and "Municipal Darwinism".
posted by Kirjava at 8:23 AM on February 1, 2008

The Bartimaeus trilogy by Stroud is nicely amusing.

I adored Neverwhere - I only wish it had been about five times as long! I'm like you, and love fat books, so I'll also mention Little Big and Winter's Tale, which, while lacking the London component both have great long story arcs and atmospheres that you can sink right into.

Not as long as you'd like, but Gloriana is a very odd, dark, alternate Elizabeth I tale by Michael Moorcock. Very strange.
posted by taz at 10:21 AM on February 1, 2008

Thirding Glass Books of the Dream Eaters. I enjoyed Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell as well, and there are definitely some similarities.
posted by Locative at 10:04 PM on May 27, 2008

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