Fictional city

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A sign welcoming people to the fictional city of Las Venturas in the video game Grand Theft Auto:San Andreas. The city is a parody of Las Vegas.

A fictional city refers to a town, city or village that is made up for fictional stories, and does not exist in real life, or refers to a settlement that people believe exist without definitive proof, such as Plato's account of Atlantis which some believed was fiction while others believed it existed.[1]

Cultures have always had legends and stories of fictional cities from the earliest times. Other fictional cities appear most commonly as settings or subjects of myth, literature, movies, or video games.

Fictional cities appear commonly in stories of early mythology. Some such cities are lost (Atlantis), hidden (Agartha, Shambhala[2]), destroyed (Ys[3]) or must be reached by difficult means (Asphodel Meadows[4])

During the mid to late 1500s, several expeditions were made by various groups of people in order to locate what they believed to be a city rich with gold; El Dorado. In 1541 Gonzalo Pizarro, governor of Quito, Ecuador, banded together 340 soldiers and about 4000 natives and led them in search of the fabled city. That same year, Philipp von Hutten led an exploring party from Coro on the coast of Venezuela. Despite having been disproven in by Alexander von Humboldt during his Latin-America expedition (1799–1804).[5] There are some people who still believe El Dorado is yet to be found.

Most Superhero and secret agent comics and some thrillers also use fictional cities as backdrops although most of these cities exist only for a single story, episode or an issue of a comic book. There are notable exceptions, such as Metropolis and Smallville in Superman, Gotham City in Batman, Stephen King's Castle Rock and Emerald City which appears throughout Frank L. Baum's Oz Books and appears in several film adaptations and animated films.

Purposes[edit]

Fictional cities often deliberately resemble, parody or even represent some real-world analogous location or present a utopian or dystopian locale for commentary. Variants of cities' names sometimes make it clear what city is the real basis, for example, Las Venturas from the video game Grand Theft Auto series based on Las Vegas, and includes a number of notable city landmarks including casinos. By making use of fictional towns, as opposed to using a real one, authors have a much greater freedom to exercise their creativity on characters, events, and settings while simultaneously presenting a somewhat familiar location that readers can recognize. A fictional city leaves the author unburdened by the restraints of a city's actual history, politics, culture and can allow for a greater scope in plot construction and also avoid vilifying any actual group of people. In Fanfiction, fanmade fictional cities are not considered canonical unless they are authorized.

Regional stereotypes[edit]

Writers may create an archetypal fictional city that conforms to the expected behavior of the regional location of the city.

These cities usually embody the stereotypes associated with their respective regions. For example, a Texan locale will more than likely have a rustic, cowboy-like theme with hardy ranchers, while a fictional city in California is likely to have more liberal, laidback characters. A famous example of a regional stereotype is Lake Wobegon, Minnesota from Garrison Keillor's radio program A Prairie Home Companion portraying a common town in the northern Midwest.

Although cities based in real life usually have enough evidence to locate the real-world inspiration, writers sometimes are deliberately ambiguous in the locale such as the infamous unlocatable Springfield from The Simpsons television program.[6]

Notable Examples[edit]

These are cities from various works of fiction, legend, and other narratives that are good examples of notable fictional cities.

Name Origin Notes
Gotham City Batman #4 (Winter 1940) A fictional American city that is the home of Batman, and the principal setting for all Batman comics, films, and other adaptations. Generally portrayed as a dark, crime-ridden locale, writer/artist Frank Miller has described Gotham City as New York City at night. It was originally strongly inspired by Trenton, Ontario's history, location, atmosphere, and various architectural styles, and has since incorporated elements from New York City, Detroit, Pittsburgh, London and Chicago. Anton Furst's designs of Gotham for Tim Burton's Batman (1989) have been influential on subsequent portrayals: he set out to "make Gotham City the ugliest and bleakest metropolis imaginable."[7]
Emerald City The Wizard of Oz The Emerald City is the fictional capital city of the Land of Oz based on L. Frank Baum's Oz books, first described in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. The city is sometimes called the City of Emeralds due to its extensively green architecture.
Sunnydale, California Buffy the Vampire Slayer Sunnydale, California is the fictional setting for the U.S. television drama Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Series creator Joss Whedon conceived the town as a representation of a generic California city, as well as a narrative parody of the all-too-serene towns typical in traditional horror movies.

Sunnydale is located on a "Hellmouth"; a portal "between this reality and the next", and convergence point of mystical energies.[8]

Springfield The Simpsons Springfield is the fictional town in which the American animated sitcom The Simpsons is set. A mid-sized town in an undetermined state of the United States, Springfield acts as a complete universe in which characters can explore the issues faced by modern society.[9] The geography of the town and its surroundings are flexible, changing to address whatever an episode's plot calls for.[10] Springfield's location is impossible to determine; the show is deliberately evasive on the subject, providing contradictory clues and impossible information about an actual geographic location.
Castle Rock Stephen King Castle Rock, Maine is part of Stephen King's fictional Maine topography and provides the setting for a number of his novels, novellas, and short stories. Built similarly to the fictional towns of Jerusalem's Lot (featured in the novel 'Salem's Lot) and Derry (featured in the novels It, Insomnia, and Dreamcatcher), Castle Rock is a typical small New England town with many dark secrets.
Kakariko Village The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past Kakariko Village (カカリコ村 Kakariko-mura?) is a fictional village of The Legend of Zelda Series that appears in A Link to the Past, Ocarina of Time, Four Swords Adventures and Twilight Princess. Kakariko is often portrayed as a prosperous small town.
Atlantis Timaeus & Critias The legendary (and almost archetypal) lost continent that was supposed to have sunk into the Atlantic Ocean; there are many differing opinions on what and where Atlantis was.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Nesselrath (2005), pp. 161–171.
  2. ^ The Tantra by Victor M. Fic, Abhinav Publications, 2003, p.49.
  3. ^ YsThe Legend of the Sunken City in Welsh and Breton Tradition, James Doan, Folklore, Vol. 92, No. 1 (1981), pp. 77–83
  4. ^ W.H.D. Rouse, trans. The Odyssey: The Story of Odysseus. New York: The New American Library, 1949.
  5. ^ Travels to the Equinoctial Regions of America by Alexander von Humboldt
  6. ^ Richmond, Ray (2007-05-11). "Springfield of dreams". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2007-06-13. 
  7. ^ Anton Furst, Derek Meddings, Visualizing Gotham: The Production Design of Batman, 2005, Warner Home Video.
  8. ^ Welcome to the Hellmouth (1.01) introduces the Hellmouth, which is referred to numerous times throughout the series. The entrance to the Hellmouth is seen under the school in The Zeppo, Doomed, Conversations with Dead People, and throughout the second half of season seven.
  9. ^ Turner, p. 55
  10. ^ Turner, p. 30