Fantastical settings are one of the major draws of speculative fiction. The places where novels are set don’t just provide a backdrop for the plot, they often drive it. They establish the tone of the story and inform the sensibilities of the characters. Nowhere is this truer than in fictional cities, which are both the product of and the backdrop for the characters and their cultures.
These cities are Weird-with-a-capital-W. They’re freakish and fascinating. They’re constructs that reflect the anxieties and aspirations of their societies, and they’re palimpsests for histories that have been built, destroyed, and redefined over generations. Their crooked alleys and towering buildings frame the stories of savvy world-beaters and set the stage for epic clashes of ideology.