Genre Debate: What Is U-F?

We’ve been talking about the Urban Fantasy genre for a couple of months now. We’ve defined it somewhat but I wouldn’t go so far as to say we have completely carved out what is and is not U-F just yet.

For example, yesterday I talked about the movie, Winchester, as well as the house and the legends and lore that the film was based on. It is set in an urban setting, albeit over 100 years in the past. But it incorporates human beings encountering paranormal situations. That certainly fits under the U-F umbrella.

Sorry Will, Wrong Genre

Will rocked the MIB-look, but it is still sci-fi and not urban fantasy.

Will “Agent J” Smith.

I got an e-mail earlier with an inquiry about the Men In Black. I assume we’re talking the very entertaining MIB movies. Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith made those films in my opinion. And I assume we’re talking the legends of Men in Black involving UFOs and alien encounters. The question was: Does MIB fall under the U-F genre?

I think the key here is the alien aspects – as well as the gadgets and spaceships – of the MIB. To me, aliens always fall firmly into the science fiction realm.

There is nothing paranormal about them. They are just critters that look different from us critters here on Earth. So the answer would be: No, MIB is not U-F.

Earth-Only U-F? Not So Fast

But it reminded me of a panel I participated in earlier this week. A fellow panelist brought up that he likes to write urban fantasy but he does not set the city on Planet Earth. He has received some blowback from his readers along the lines of U-F has to be set on Earth to be U-F.

Earth is not the lone place for an urban fantasy setting.

Put this deserted ghost town in China on Mars and you have the perfect urban setting for an urban fantasy story.

I disagree. As long as the setting is urban and there is a humanoid person or persons encountering a paranormal experience, that is U-F enough for me. Which means sci-fi writers can have a futuristic city on one of Saturn’s moons and still write a U-F story as long as the paranormal aspects of it are front and center.

So if you want to write Dracula on Mars and sell it as U-F, knock yourself out. I’ll read it. Likely even review it here. Especially if you make his victims turn into spirits that haunt the ships that travel back and forth to Earth.



About the author

Richard Paolinelli