Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Dundee's Tour of the Cities (An Excerpt)

... But I'm sure you didn't come here to hear me blather about my adventures, no?

So, you were asking about the cities? No doubt about it: ever since Tolkien guided the first tour into the wide vista of the fantastical realms, expansion and technological advancement has made their inroads throughout the kingdoms. I'm sure you know all the places everyone has been talking about, misty Middle-Earth and fair Narnia being the two most famous-known.

But all of those roads to travel, all of those forests and haunted ruins and dark wastelands! Why trample through the muck and mud when the cities beckon, yes? A pox on nature! Man is an urban creature, if I do say so myself!

There have been earlier studies. I myself prefer The Swanwick's small chapbook guide, "In the Tradition," in which he takes us on a tour of the islands of the fantastical. Lord Moorcock's introduction in Van der Meer's history book on that strange metropolis of Ambergris (which we'll come back to, worry not) also has clues to the lands that have already been explored before. I suggest you look those up if you have not.

Now, where was I? Ah yes...

First are the cities of Bas-Lag. Messire Mieville (no relation to the whale-catcher) has been industrious in coming out with guide books on sprawling New Crobuzon and the floating city of Armada. But I'm sure you would prefer to see the sights rather than sit here in this seedy bar so let me finish my beer...

... ah, that hits the spot. Alright, shall we?

First on our list is, of course, the illustrious and famous Perdido Street Station, looming over the whole city like the monolithic government that rules the metropolis. Fortunately, from here, we have a good view of the station and the city...

The sky was bisected by the skyrail that threaded through Flyside militia tower. The city was a layered silhouette, an intricate fading chimneyscape, slate roofs bracing each other obliquely before the plaited towers of churches to obscure gods, the huge priapic vents of factories spewing dirty smoke and burning off excess energy, monolithic tower blocks like vast concrete gravestones, the rough down of parkland.

Wondrous, yes? Just don't breathe. I hear the pollution quotient has been pretty high this year, especially after the little riots and rumbles that occurred. Likewise, I know some of you would want to see the time-frozen train sculpture what some have dubbed the Iron Council but unfortunately, government troops have its security quite tight such that they shoot anyone approaching on sight. Ah well, maybe next time...

So: let us turn here-- yes, in that alley marked with a spiral graffiti-- and move through the shadows most prudently-- mind the offal!-- we shall exit to find ourselves in the city at the heart of the world...


...I was just thinking that Michael Swanwick and Michael Moorcock have done variants of a guide book on the various fantasy realms while Diane Wynne Jones has actually come out with A Tough Guide to Fantasyland addressing the clichés prevalent in the fantasy genre.

On the other hand, I thought it would be nice if someone would do something similar to the cities of fantasy hence the exercise at hand.

Wala lang.

No comments: