Urban Fantasy with a real character

As I’ve mentioned previously I really enjoy urban fantasy, and especially urban fantasy set in the UK. So I’ve been reading the ‘The Severed Streets’, the sequel to Paul Cornell’s ‘London Falling’. It was a good read, but one of my favourite bits was where he incorporated another of my favourite authors, Neil Gaiman, as a minor character in the story (Gaiman’s ‘Neverwhere’ being one of the first urban fantasy books I can remember reading). You can read about how that came about at the link below:



Religion, Pop Culture and Video Games

An eclectic bunch of links today, focusing upon biblical literacy, religion and video games, and video games as a way of creating wellbeing.

First up a new book from Heidi Campbell and Gregory Grieve

Quick review here: Religion Book Review: Playing with Religion in Digital Games by Heidi A. Campbell and Gregory P. Grieve.

Next a link to Bible literacy is going up, not down – thanks, Lady Gaga; The UK Bible Society survey mentioned can be found here.

And finally, Tapping Into the Emotional Side of Video Games: Developing Hope, Healing and Love.

Related links to this latter one include the use of the games mentioned here in church settings – See http://www.wired.co.uk/news/archive/2012-08/09/geekdad-hatches-exeter-cathedrals-journey-service and http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p00sg1fq

Summer reading…

Pottering through a number of books this summer break – dipping into them for a bit before moving on to another book for a while. On the go at the moment or just finished include:

“Happy Hour In Hell” (Tad Williams)

So far not as good as it’s predecessor, “The Dirty Streets of Heaven”. It feels more formulaic and in places the flippancy seems a little forced. Still it keeps up the research into angels in popular culture. Heaven and Hell here seem to be more reflections of human existence than the other way around though.

“The Left Hand of God” (Paul Hoffman)

One a range of fantasy fiction that I’ve come across in the past year or so that very much seem to be on the Church (or just religion) as an evil (or misguided) empire. Seems to be a common theme at the moment – I’ve also just finished the two below that also have a similar theme in them.

“Theft of Swords, Vol. 1(Riyria Revelations)” (Michael J. Sullivan)

“Rise of Empire, Vol. 2 (Riyria Revelations)” (Michael J. Sullivan)

I’m also dipping into the following two books and quite enjoying them. Both different to each other but well worth the time.

“Eating Heaven: Spirituality at the Table” (Simon Carey Holt)

“Religion and Science Fiction:” (James McGrath (ed))

And finally this arrived in the mail at Christmas, which looks like it’ll be helpful for teaching this year.

“Beginning Theology” (Lucienne Breingan)

Writing, reading and (religious) imagination

Two links here which both connect to the idea of ‘world-building’ – in the first case on the importance of fiction in engendering imaginative, thoughful people, while the second contemplated different ways in which one might deal with religion in fantasy writing.

For more on world-building, including some material in JRR Tolkien’s idea of sub-creation, see THE PERFECT PLANET: Comics, Games and World-Building.

What’s in store for Serenity’s crew after the events of the film?

I’m a huge Firefly/Serenity fan. I’ve got the DVDs, the poster, and all the comics and graphic novels. So I’m hoping this comes to pass.

What’s in store for Serenity’s crew after the events of the film?

“Firefly: The Complete Series” (Joss Whedon, Tim Minear, Vern Gillum)

“Serenity” (Joss Whedon)

“Serenity, Vol. 1: Those Left Behind” (Joss Whedon, Brett Matthews)

“Serenity, Vol. 2: Better Days” (Joss Whedon)

“Serenity: The Shepherd’s Tale” (Zack Whedon, Joss Whedon)

“Serenity Float Out #1 One-Shot Chen Cover” (Patton Oswalt)

Searching For A New Hero?

A reflection on how the changes in the recent history of the Green Lantern Corps in the DC Universe towards a more militaristic, political organisation change affection for beloved characters. Will be interesting to see future blog posts on this theme.

I’m of the view that the scope of the changes to the GL mythos, and the fact that they happened over a reasonably long time (10 years) means that the radicalness of them crept up on people, rather than with a (yet another) dramatic reboot of the character.

See A Comic Fan Searches For A New Hero: Introduction | Political Jesus.

Urban fantasy on my mind


I’ve just finished reading Paul Cornell’s “London Falling,” part of the growing genre of urban fantasy which juxtaposes the everyday world with a parallel, invisible world visible to those with the eyes to see. In this particular case it mixes a police drama, organized crime, football, London and the supernatural, and after a slow start it was quite a good read. I’m looking forward to reading the sequel.

For a theologian urban fantasy is a rich treasure-trove of ‘biblical afterlives’ – echoes of biblical texts and stories somehow cut adrift from their original context and taking a life of their own in everyday culture – and often religious characters are dealt with more sympathy than one might think. (On the other hand, I’m not a big fan of paranormal romance which often intersects with urban fantasy).

From the past few years, here are a few of my favourites (which are often part of a series):

“Neverwhere (text only) 1st (First) edition by N. Gaiman” (N. Gaiman)

“Something from the Nightside (Nightside, Book 1)” (Simon R. Green)

“A Kiss Before the Apocalypse: A Remy Chandler Novel” (Thomas E. Sniegoski)

“Storm Front: Book one of The Dresden Files” (Jim Butcher)

“A Madness of Angels: Or The Resurrection of Matthew Swift” (Kate Griffin)

“J. Michael Straczynski’s Midnight Nation, Vol. 1″ (J. Michael Straczynski)

“The President’s Vampire (A Nathaniel Cade Novel)” (Christopher Farnsworth)

“Hounding the Moon (Tess NoncoirĂ© Adventures, Book 1)” (P. R. Frost)

“Anansi Boys” (Neil Gaiman)

“The Dirty Streets of Heaven (Bobby Dollar)” (Tad Williams)

And a few others which cross over with steampunk and western

“Ghosts of Manhattan” (George Mann)

“The Six-Gun Tarot” (R. S. Belcher)

“Phoenix Rising: A Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences Novel (Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences Novels)” (Pip Ballantine, Tee Morris)