New weird

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The new weird is a literary genre that began in the 1990s and developed in a series of novels and stories published from 2001 to 2005. M. John Harrison is credited with creating the term "New Weird" in the introduction to China Miéville's novella The Tain (2002).[1] The writers involved are mostly novelists who are considered to be parts of the horror or speculative fiction genres but who often cross genre boundaries. Notable authors include K. J. Bishop, Steve Cockayne, Paul Di Filippo, M. John Harrison, Thomas Ligotti, Ian R. MacLeod, China Miéville, Alastair Reynolds, Justina Robson, Oh Seong-dae, Steph Swainston, and Jeff VanderMeer, among others.[1]


Works which have been cited as influencing the new weird include H.P. Lovecraft's stories, Mervyn Peake's Gormenghast novels, and M. John Harrison's Viriconium series.[1]


Various definitions have been given of the genre. According to Jeff VanderMeer and Ann VanderMeer, in their introduction to the anthology The New Weird, the genre is "a type of urban, secondary-world fiction that subverts the romanticized ideas about place found in traditional fantasy, largely by choosing realistic, complex real-world models as the jumping-off point for creation of settings that may combine elements of both science fiction and fantasy."[2] According to Gardner Dozois, however, the VanderMeers' anthology "ultimately left me just as confused as to what exactly The New Weird consisted of when I went out as I'd been when I went in."[3] Robin Anne Reid notes that while the definition of the new weird is disputed, "a general consensus uses the term" to describe fictions that "subvert cliches of the fantastic in order to put them to discomfiting, rather than consoling ends". [1] Reid also notes the genre tends to break down the barriers between fantasy, science fiction and supernatural horror.[1] In comparing the new weird to bizarro fiction, Rose O'Keefe of Eraserhead Press claims that "People buy New Weird because they want cutting edge speculative fiction with a literary slant. It’s kind of like slipstream with a side of weirdness."[4]

Part of this genre's roots derive from pulp horror authors, whose stories were sometimes described as "weird fiction". The "weird tale" label also evolved from the magazine Weird Tales; the stories therein often combined fantasy elements, existential and physical terror, and science fiction devices.[5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e Reid, Robin Anne (2009). Women in Science Fiction and Fantasy: Overviews. ABC-CLIO. p. 234. ISBN 978-0-313-33591-4.
  2. ^ VanderMeer, Ann; Jeff VanderMeer (2008). The New Weird. Tachyon. pp. xvi. ISBN 978-1-892391-55-1.
  3. ^ Dozois, Gardner (2009). The Year's Best Science Fiction: Twenty-Sixth Annual Collection. Macmillan. pp. xxxvi. ISBN 978-0-312-55105-6.
  4. ^ Henderson, Randy. "Bizarro Fiction 101: Not Just Weird for Weird's Sake". Fantasy Magazine. Retrieved March 31, 2011.
  5. ^ Shaviro, Steven (2010). Post Cinematic Affect. O Books. p. 33. ISBN 1-84694-431-7.

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