Five cities in fiction


(Overside, Evan Dahm)

There are a bunch of cities in Overside, the world where webcomic artist Evan Dahm’s lovingly crafted tales are set, but none are as audaciously literal as Stonepalm. The city sits in the shadow of a set of stone fingers, and it is populated by orangey-brown creatures called Hornèd, whose names all stem from grammatical terms. What more could you want from a city?

—Ethan Chiel


(Berlin, Jason Lutes)

There’s a lot to see in Berlin, Jason Lutes’s fictional chronicle of the waning days of the Weimar Republic in the eponymous city. Complicated events and equally complicated characters cover the pages, creating a somewhat idealized, but nonetheless captivating, story of a city on the verge of a precipice.


Washington, DC

(Idiocracy, Mike Judge)

Mike Judge’s 2006 film Idiocracy presents a dystopian version of Washington, DC, where human intelligence has devolved to levels both ridiculously low and eerily familiar. The degenerating city features a metropolis-sized Costco with an internal subway system, a dustbowl fruitlessly irrigated with sports drink, a landfill mountain range, fast-food vending machines, and a self-serve hospital.

—Tom Adamson

Los Angeles 

(Blade Runner, Ridley Scott)

One of the details that makes the world of Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner so rich is Cityspeak, the language spoken by the working class of Los Angeles in 2019. The language was constructed for the film by actor Edward James Olmos, and includes elements of Chinese, Spanish, and Hungarian, among other languages.

—Jamie Shilton


(Naked Lunch, William Burroughs)

Interzone, the setting for much of William Burroughs’ Naked Lunch, is based on the international zone of Tangiers in the 1950s. Tangiers was probably an intense, chaotic, and amazing place then, but Burroughs takes things just a few steps further. Interzone is a hallucination of junkies, secret agents, crazed doctors, and giant black aquatic centipedes with addictive, vomit-inducing flesh.

—Simon Frank