Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Guest Post from Nicole Peeler

As a professor who teaches, amongst other things, popular fiction, I’m very much aware of the debates surrounding urban fantasy. What does this term mean, exactly? For example, my books are about a girl living in a tiny village in Maine. Not very urban. But there is magic, so that’s fantasy. But there’s no map or funny languages, since it is set in “our” world.

Over the years I’ve watched the genre of UF evolve, and I’m now lucky enough to take part in this process, as an author of my own books. But I’ve always thought that one of the most fascinating and fun versions of urban fantasy is, undoubtedly, Jen Rardin’s.

In Once Bitten, Twice Shy, Vayl almost immediately makes a joke about James Bond. And this is, in a fabulously parodied way, exactly the world Jen created. It’s James Bond, only made more believable, paradoxically, by its connection to magic, vampires, and the supernatural. In other words, while I never once believed James Bond could get away with any of his absurd, if entertaining, shenanigans, I can believe they’d be possible in a world that contains CIA-agent vampires.

Jen wrote some of the most “real” urban fantasies on the market today, not least because of her world’s reliance on science as much as technology. While Vayl may work his vampire mojo, Jaz relies on Grief, as well as other deliciously wacky and brutal weapons made by Jen’s Q, Bergman. I can’t think of another character like Bergman out there, in Urban Fantasy: someone who, despite there being magic in the world, relies on the cold steel of wonderfully absurd gadgetry.

Meanwhile, who doesn’t love a gadget? And imagine how hard it is to make these things up? I avoid such things because I’m not really sure, to be frank, exactly how something as straightforward as my vacuum cleaner works. For all I know, there is magic at the heart of a Dyson. So for a writer who has that chance to “opt out” of the physics-ruled realm of science, but refuses, is brave, indeed.

And Jen never opted out. There was always the frighteningly detailed Grief, throughout the series. Then there was Bergman’s flying, credit-card-bug-detector in Biting the Bullet. And who could forget One More Bite’s ominously foaming “Mongoose”?

The world of urban fantasy is a darker place without Jen. As a woman, she brought much joy and light. And as a writer, she brought her shiny, shiny gadgets. We will miss her, and everything she created.
Comment on this post for a chance to win a signed a copy of Bitten in Two. Don't forget to comment on all this months posts for more entries. You have a chance to win four books by commenting on Steph's guest post and Amberkatze's interview with Jennifer


  1. I love the gadgets in these books. Bergman is great. He comes up with the cooliest things, his cat being my favorite. I even love his mistakes :-D

    Stephanie G

    Paranormal Haven

  2. I have to agree with Stephanie again, Astral is my fave gadget of Bergman's but they are all super cool. I haven't seen such cool gadgets in any other series.

    folksohana at gmail dot com

  3. I’m really enjoying getting to know Jennifer and her books through folks who knew her. I’ve added the Jaz Parks series to my TBR list and am embarrassed it’s taken me so long to do it. Thanks for your post. (Email in profile.)

  4. I've had Jennifer's books on my book shelf for a while. I've always been meaning to read them, especially after I heard how awesome her books and the author are. I'm sad I didn't get to know Jennifer more.

    spettolij AT gmail DOT com

  5. I am a huge James Bond fan, and I had no idea what was lurking below the surface of Jen's books. I've had book 1 sitting on my shelf for awhile. Looks like I need to pick that puppy up.


  6. I'm sorry, but I refuse to believe that Jen Rardin is really dead. She's had to go into hiding because she revealed too much about the inner workings of the CIA. I don't care how illogical that is; I prefer my theory to reality.

  7. "a world that contains CIA-agent vampires." Wait a second what? I didn't klnow that about the Jaz Parks series. Really? That sounds awesome! I always liked my UF exciting and fast paced but with spy actiona nd gadgets? I really want to read about that! :-D

    (And I agree Nicole, somehow until now I could only connect to those UF universes which are closer to our reality, which are kind of like a parallel universe to ours)

    stella.exlibris (at) gmail (dot) com