When a Book Is Set in Your Home City, Does That Enhance the Story?

Illustration for article titled When a Book Is Set in Your Home City, Does That Enhance the Story?

Authors sometimes set their stories in fictionalized versions of real cities. But how does a book's setting being close to home change how you read the book?

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In response to this post on science fiction and fantasy version of real life cities, commenters began discussing some fictional cities — from Ursula K Le Guin's take on Portland, OR in The Lathe of Heaven to Charles de Lint's spin on Ottawa in Moonheart — and how they intersected with their real world equivalent, or, sometimes, didn't:

Anemone

Iwas living in Ottawa in the '90s when I read Charles de Lint's Moonheart, so I went to check out the block of houses that's secretly supposed to be one big house, and it had already been partly gentrified.

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Have you ever gone to see some of the city sights recommended to you by fiction? And did seeing them change how you imagined the story? Tell us about some of the books that take place in your city — and just what they did (or didn't) add to your reading of the book.

Image: Portland, OR, Michael Silberstein

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DISCUSSION

davehasbrouck
Dave Haaz-Baroque

I appreciate it when writers ACCURATELY describe elements of my city (San Francisco). Christopher Moore is great at describing things that locals would know, like saying that the new (at the time) government building looked like it was 'humped by a metal pterodactyl' or when he alludes to a local goth club which HAD to be Death Guild (Death Guild wasn't named in the book but at the time, DG was at a space called 'Glass Kat', and the goth club in the book was held in a place that had an almost identical name that I can't remember) and said the music sounded like 'European robots fucking while complaining about it.'

He writes about SF with both the barbs and affection of a true local.