Dresden series, Jim Butcher

The Harry Dresden series is a neat counter-example of why it’s the urban fantasy female detective romance genre. He starts out the same as the women: a broke wizard/detective who protects humans from monsters. Along with werewolves and necromancers we get three crazed sub-types of vampires (blood, sex, and, uh, torture?). The whole fairy world thing has plenty of detail, plus demons and so on.

Then onto the story. He’s a junior member of the Wizards’ Council and resents it. Hmmm…a female character would have fought for that bit of recognition and ability to contribute. The stories focus much more on the main baddie: Harry doesn’t visit his mom, check out his sister’s possibly seedy new boyfriend (he has no family), or find a clue while searching for a spaghetti recipe in an ill-fated attempt to cook for a new love interest. In fact, he doesn’t worry about maintaining his friendships and normal life since he has neither. He’s more of a traditional burnt-out gumshoe. Back to the friends, he doesn’t even get out much to talk to contacts for info. There’s a magic skull in his basement for that.

His main problem solving skill is blasting things with magic. He has both kinds — fire bolts and force bolts. That’s his defining character trait (Harry Dresden — as in the city that was famously firebombed at the end of WWII — and he’s a fire mage. Tasteless, but makes its point) Otherwise he rushes towards the most obvious clue and is easily distracted by anything shape-changed into a curvy body (of which there are lots). Like all true men, his magic is powered by rage. Sure, female detectives experience rage but it makes them do something unlady-like — not merely punch harder.

All-in-all it’s a huge difference. The Dresden series is about a stereotypical schluby male. It’s mostly an action series. Nothing wrong with that. The author sure goes all-out to develop the secret world and to follow up in future books. But it makes you realize how much the “real” UFDR genre is about how women can fight monsters as well as men while being true to 3rd wave feminism.