View Full Version : Fantastical 20th Century

2009-07-18, 11:38 AM
Hello Playgrounders! I was wondering if you could help me with a search for some books. Not any books in particular, but I was wondering if there was anything out there based around the early-to-mid 20th century (particularly the First or Second World Wars), but with fantasy elements? Maybe something like Naomi Novik's Temeraire, where we have a historical context with dragons (or in this case magic, fey, dark gods or whatever) playing a major part? 'Magical realism' type books would be good, but aren't quite what I had in mind; same goes for videogames, anime etc - while I may specify books, reccommendations of anything of the right 'feel' would be gratefully accepted. Thanks in advance!

2009-07-18, 01:35 PM
Justice Society Of America (Comic series) - DC's Golden age superheroes (with touches of silver and bronze) fighting WWII and solving continuity issues on the side.

Planetary (Comic series) - Takes place in the present but the early part of the series is primarily is about uncovering fantastic elements of the 20th Century.

Baccano! (Anime series) - 1930s, prohibittion, gangsters, martial arts, alchemy, and immortaility. Not your standard mix but it flows together pretty well.

Watchmen (Comic mini-series) - The 1930s to the 1980s of a world where some folks took it upon themselves to become costumed crime fighters. Mostly about the 60s-80s era cold war but it does have some parts that show a half decent picture of the American homefront in WWII.

2009-07-18, 01:57 PM
Do you want specifically fantasy? Harry Turtledove does a whole lot of stuff with alternate history, but he does sci-fi, not fantasy.

"Monday Starts on Saturday" and "Tale of the Troika" (Boris and Arkadiy Strugatsky) take place in I think 70s USSR, and incorporate folklore and magic into a research university setting.

2009-07-18, 06:01 PM
Ah, I've heard of Harry Turtledove, and I'm not sure why I didn't think of him; I was specifically thinking 'fantasy' to start with, but didn't he do something about the Second World War with aliens? That sounds great and probably fits my desired 'themes' best of all the suggestions (if he's any good, that is. Is he?). That said, Baccano! sounds great, the Strugatsky books look interesting (but difficult to get hold of in the UK I'd imagine; Amazon.co.uk seems pretty useless), Planetary looks almost perfect, and of course Watchmen is one of my favourites already. Thanks for the advice, folks!

2009-07-18, 07:00 PM
I enjoy old Harry a lot, but his basic theory of alternate history seems to be " the players change, the game is the same". What I mean is, things basically happen the same way they did here, even if they are happening to different people and nations. A nation will fall ignominiously, and a pissed off young corporal will rise to power. What nation, what corporal? That's the switch-a-roo. I am not sure if this is a bad thing, but its a tad formulaic.

Thane of Fife
2009-07-18, 07:11 PM
Indiana Jones? He usually goes up against the Nazis to find supernatural objects. That seems to fit.

2009-07-18, 07:12 PM
League of Extraordinary Gentlemen starts at the turn of the century.

2009-07-18, 07:14 PM
In terms of Turtledove, I was thinking more the lizardy invasion series rather than the ones about the different United States fighting each other. "The Gladiator" isn't too bad either in that respect.

In terms of the Strugatsky books, these (http://www.amazon.co.uk/monday-begins-saturday/s/qid=1247962437/ref=sr_nr_seeall_1?ie=UTF8&rs=&keywords=Monday%20Begins%20on%20Saturday&rh=i%3Aaps%2Ck%3AMonday%20Begins%20on%20Saturday%2 Ci%3Astripbooks) are they, but they're listed unavailable. Try finding collections of their works, since they tended to write novellas. You're also going to face transliteration difficulties...Strugatsky can also be written as Strugatski, Strugatskii and however else the translator is pleased to wrack them.

2009-07-18, 07:17 PM
You may or may not want to look into another one of Harry Turtledove's series, the Darkness, in which World War 2 is set in a fantay world.

2009-07-20, 08:22 AM
That sounds almost perfect. What kind of tech level is it at?
I do love the Indiana Jones films, but they're more 'real world with some, secret, supernatural elements' as opposed to the Temeraire-esque 'alternate history with major supernatural/fantasy/sci-fi elements that are well-known, well-documented, and part of everyday life for a large number of people' I was originally going for.
League of Extraordinary Gentlemen might be worth a look, but the films were, to me, mediocre at best. Are the comics good?

2009-07-20, 08:39 AM
Please don't compare the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen comic to the film :smallfrown:

They are completely different, in plot and characters. Yes, some of the characters are technically the same, but act completely differently (and you won't see Mina as a super powerful vampire), in the film, the Invisible man dies helping the league, anyone who's read the Volume II can tell you the problem with this. [/rant]

Volumes I and II are excellent (I'm still not sure about III, but the Volumes are largely self-contained so it shouldn't matter).

However, if you're searching for hidden supernatural elements it becomes a grey area. It gives the impression that the majority of people are ignorant of these elements, and that knowledge is restricted to elite circles, but also has large scale events which are too fantastic to cover up fully.

Definitely worth reading, I'd say.

2009-07-20, 11:50 AM
Leauge of Extraordinary Gentlmen: The Black Dossier is best summed up as the thread's title mostly because nothing else can encompass the awesome deconstructive mess it made out of 20th century literature.

Leauge of Extraordinary Gentlmen: 1910 can be easily passed up. It's just more of the same as the first two volumes in terms of storyline but with less interesting characters.

2009-07-20, 04:53 PM
Hmm, seems interesting. So best to start at the beginning?

2009-07-20, 06:50 PM
A bit hard to find but the film 'Cast a Deadly Spell' is well worth seeing.
Set in a 50's LA where magic has become a part of everyday life. The mobs use Zombie muscle and hit sorceror's, kids sabotage cars with magic chants and vampire hookers walk the streets.
Meanwhile hard-boiled P.I. Howard.P.Lovecraft is hired by a rich client to recover a valuable book. The book's name, The Necronomicon

2009-07-21, 12:59 AM
John Crowley's Little, Big is one of fantasy's top masterpieces, and span's the 20th century from beginning to end (the end being rather vague, as the book was written in the 70's). Not particularly tied up with dramatic historical events like the big wars, but rather concerning one family's bond with Faerie, and how that does end up shaping the world in strange and unexpected ways.

Can't recommend it enough.

2009-07-23, 08:05 AM
'Cast A Deadly Spell' sounds great. Is it Lovecraftian beyond the names?

2009-07-23, 08:11 AM
Ice. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ice_(Dukaj_novel))

M0rt is reading this frigging brick now, so ask him for opinions. :smalltongue:

But I guess it fits.

EDIT: Still not translated though...

2009-07-23, 08:31 AM
I've read all of the turtledove lizardy invasion series and I gotta say wonderful read.

2009-07-23, 01:21 PM
I've read all of the turtledove lizardy invasion series and I gotta say wonderful read.
From what I have read of them, yes, they are quite grand.

2009-07-24, 07:03 PM
'Cast A Deadly Spell' sounds great. Is it Lovecraftian beyond the names?

Yes and no. It includes vampires and other supernatural elements not mentioned in the Mythos but also makes mention of the Great Old Ones and the ending ( without giving too much away) uses the Mythos.

2009-07-25, 02:36 PM
George R.R. Martin's Wild Cards series. About fifty thousand installments, with the newest trilogy starting with a reality TV show about super heroes. Superheroes have never been this sexy awesome. Until, you know, Wild Cards came out. And Watchmen. And a bit before those, when Batman came out.

2009-07-27, 02:14 PM
Turtledove writes an awesome story, but doesn't seem to know how to write endings. So definitely worth the read, but expect it to just cut off mid read without a satisfying conclusion.

2009-07-28, 06:53 AM
Mark Chadbourne's "Age of Misrule" series. Modern day Britain, Magic/Faeries reutrn, all goes a bit nasty. Very good!

2009-07-31, 11:31 AM
'Ice' seems intriguing, and I can't believe I've not picked up any of the 'Age of Misrule' books yet - I've seen them often enough. I love George RR Martin, so will have to try Wild Cards. Thanks for all the advice folks! There's a lot to choose from here; of all the works in the thread, which dio people most strongly advise?