What is Urbanweird and what is here?
Welcome to the World of the Urbanweird
Here is your portal to everything The City (both real and imagined) has to offer. I'm Brian Wood-Koiwa, and here you will find my Urbanweird fiction, urban photography, and just my thoughts on the urban experience through a gay American novelist/photographer living in the largest metropolitan area on the planet - Tokyo, Japan.
What does Urbanweird mean? I am not sure yet, since I pretty much made it up out of necessity of defining my taste in literature and the space in which I would like to someday occupy as a novelist and even as a photographer. It comes out of two other sub-genres; urban fantasy and New Weird. I love cities, and I love reading and writing about them, especially really bizarre ones either real, imagined, or somewhere in-between.
Logically, "urban fantasy" would be the best moniker, but over the past few years it has moved a little bit away from the denotation of the two words. It now has the connotation of stories set in usually modern real-world settings (I guess the "urban" of the genre name) that involve the supernatural - commonly vampires, werewolves, witches, and other such Fae. I love watching urban fantasy on T.V. (I'm a huge fan of True Blood, which by the way has nothing really "urban" about it. Bon Temps is not exactly a bustling metropolis), but it is just not something I am all that interested in reading or writing about, at least not now anyway. But I totally respect the genre.
New Weird bloomed in the earlier years of this century and is heavily influenced by the Weird fiction of the 1920's, 30's, and 40's, in particular the work of H. P. Lovecraft and his fascination with the hostility and horror of the incomprehensible universe (he termed it 'cosmicism'). The symbol of the squid, or anything tenticled, is a hallmark of New Weird in reverence to Lovecraft's Cthulhu mythos; hence, the logo for this site. New Weird is a mix of fantasy, horror, with a soupcon of science fiction. The "New" part of it is that, for my interests anyway, most stories take place in decadent and/or decaying urban settings - fantastical or real. My favorite author writes/wrote (seems to be a trend to reject literary movements/genres that one was associated with) within the New Weird - China Mieville. His fantastical versions of London (King Rat and Un Lun Dun), purely fantastical cities of New Corbuzon and Embassytown, and the in-betweeness of the interplanary twin cities of Beszel and Ul Qoma located somewhere in Eastern Europe are enthralling, intelligent, dark, and just weird.
People say that New Weird is over - dead. I am not sure I agree with that, but I also wanted to have a more urban(city)-focused home to write than even New Weird has/had to offer. Hence, My invention of Urbanweird. I enjoy reading dark, imaginatively bizarre, gritty city worlds. I am with China Mieville is his dislike of traditional fantasy a la Tolkien. I never really got into such stories involving dragons, elves, dwarves, and black and white wars between good and evil. I want the city to be one of the main characters, and nothing is ever black and white in cities. There are countless shades in-between and outside that monotonous dichotomy. Setting is just as important as character and plot. The City is a colonial living being and very organic, with it's own cultures springing up out of nowhere and based on the strangest things due to special circumstances of the inhabitants that keep the city alive. Not all of a city is beautiful and not all of it is ugly - but it is always a very interesting place to live, read, and write about.
In Urbanweird.com, you will find short "Metro Scenes" of, for right now, a city world that I have created (still creating) called "Gwij". It is a novel in the making that I started about 10 years ago. I am taking a couple years away from it and concentrating on another metroworld-based novel, which came about during 2010's National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). I decided to continue with it and have it be the setting, and of course an integral player, for my first novel. The Metro Scenes of Gwij are not related to the storyline of that novel, but just to introduce you to the 'personalities' of these weird urban beings and the people (or others) that inhabit it like symbiotic parasites. Once I finish my current novel, I will post Metro Scenes of that world.
I have a link to my online photography portfolio. Due to my love of cities, I am into urban/street photography. Luckily I have a large canvas from which to capture images - Tokyo. From time to time I will feature a photograph of mine and talk about what it is, where it is, what what it does to my mind when I look at it in a blog post. You can see much more of all my photography, not just urban, at Urbanweird photogrphy, my online portfolio.
Speaking of blog posts, my blog is a hodgepodge of thoughts on literature (particularly New Weird and related genres), photography (as mentioned above), my personal writing trials and epiphanies, and just thoughts on The City in general or my experiences living in this immense real-world weird megalopolis on the edge of the Pacific Ocean.