I had persimmons for the week, but they protect me against cold and this is the last of the season and they're mostly inside me. I still have chestnuts for the week, and a cabbage, and some heritage carrots (a yellow variety that bakes extraordinarily well), and much, much salad veg and a tiny tiny sliver of truffle, which I am going to bake with egg and butter. For as persimmons go out, truffles come in. I can't normally afford truffles, but this was enough for about four hot lunches and cost $5, and was local and as fresh as I've ever seen and I had finished my shopping and there was $5 left and...
Then I found $7 more and bought a big bag of meaty Belted Galloway bones and they are busy turning themselves into portable soup as I type. I wanted to experiment with spicing, you see. Also with clarifying without the assistance of cloth.
I've read two books since I came home and made a start on the many emails I have to send this weekend. What I've also done (for the books prompted me), is start on a little mental list of the different ways spec fic novels depict London. I give this to you, for your Saturday afternoon entertainment. Also, maybe, if anyone feels inclined, for discussion or addition or emendation or footnoting. It is not a considered list - it's just me having fun with my reading.
1. Wallpaper London - a pretty backdrop with St Paul's or London Bridge but no other identifying details at all. No matter what the characters do or where the plot winds, the city stays the same. Except that maybe, if you're lucky, it rains.
2. London from the US view, which is often (but not always) different to ...
3. London from the other colonies (sorry US friends, but some of the US was once a set of English colonies, so I use the word 'other' and offend everyone, in the spirit of egalitarian rudeness), both of which are different to ...
4. Steampunk London, which ranges from the Griffin London (make sure you have the right Griffin) to the type of London you see in novels by Michael Pryor and Richard Harland.
5. The London of a particular character, so sharp that it cuts and so real that you can taste the air they breathe and draw their favourite haunts on a map. Paul McAuley's London, for instance, is always thus.
6. London of the tunnels and waterways.
7. Gothic London, where everything has a Jack the Ripper echo, or belongs in The Fourth Doctor's Talons of Weng-Chiang.
8. "I need an anodyne setting, so I shall call this city London because everyone knows London."
9. Magic London, definitely including Mike Shevdon and Neil Gaiman. A sub-section of Magic London is Elizabethan Magic London (am I thinking of Sarah Hoyt?).
10. Historical London. Dan Abnett's Triumff is a sparkling example of this, but so is Pratchett's Ankh Morpork. Mostly nineteenth century (but not steampunk) or late eighteenth century (for the clothes, obviously) or Elizabethan. There is a point being made about place and time.
11. False Dickensian London, like some of the steampunk Londons, but with added misery. The focus is on the misery, not the place and time. I cannot think of an example solely because I do not want to.
12. False Heyer London, which people seem to be calling 'Regency.' Would Carriger's work fit in this? It's not in the right period (it's Victorian) but it certainly has the right atmosphere.
13. Boarding school London. The variety most likely to include both romance and vampires. But not always. Sometimes it's about orphans and isolation and magical coming-of-age. If you're really lucky, it has orphans, isolation, magical-coming-of-age, a boarding school and romance and vampires. Except I can't think of examples. This is because my brain is fried and has nothing to do with vampires and boarding schools and orphans. Not Sarah Rees Brennan - her London is 5 or 9 or both.
14. Time travel London, which is all about the portal, so I should really call it 'portal London'. There were bunches of these round some years ago, and too many of them featured curiosity shops in narrow streets and the shops and sometimes the streets came and went entirely unreasonably. I wanted to write about a shop exactly like that, but I somehow avoided it.
15. Suspense London, where, if the writer isn't careful, everything comes out feeling like James Bond, but with magic or futuretech. When this is done well, it's breathtaking. When it's done badly it's also breathtaking, but for entirely the wrong reasons.
16. London Noir
17. London with added Gherkins and Shards - futuristic SF. This can overlap heavily with 15.
18. London at the moment of the apocalypse. Possibly with added triffids. The cocktail on the cusp of disaster.
19. London after the apocalypse. Lots of rubble. The alternate to this is a form of magic or spec fic London that includes the Blitz - this is seldom the Blitz and is more often Averting the End of Everything Post Apocalyse - this is where I admit that my views on all of this are idiosyncratic and relate to my mood today, which is vagrant and listing.
20. London created entirely from vague recollections of novels set in London. All summed up for me in the final episodes of ROD - the TV.
21. Medieval London, which may or may not be Medieval and may or may not be London. Merlin will generally make an appearance, and dragons there be, on occasion.
22. Dystopian London. George Orwell and Geoff Ryman. This was suggested by Jason, in the shadows, below (really, the comments, but dystopias don't have comments, they have shadows and one lurks).
23. Post-everything London. This and its Ozymandian implications were suggested by steepholm and includes Diana Wynne Jones' A Tale of Time City. It also includes moments in most of the whizzing back-and-forward time travel books - if you go far enough froward, you hit green fields. Mind you, if you go far enough back... This makes me think (I started thinking this in the comments) that there is a really odd fictional London timeline that starts and ends with green fields.
This is not the complete list. My mind is tangled, though, so I shall stop.
For those who haven't noticed yet, this weekend is all about London. Even my reading is all about London.
Happy solstice, those who celebrate! I shall have another persimmon in your honour before I return to thinking and reading about London.