->''"They call it the New Thing. The people who call it that mostly don't like it, and the only general agreements they seem to have are that Ballard is its Demon and I am its prophetess--and that it is what is wrong with Tom Disch, and with British s-f in general. The American counterpart is less cohesive as a "school" or "movement": it has had no single publication in which to concentrate its development, and was, in fact, till recently, all but excluded from the regular s-f magazines. But for the same reasons, it is more diffuse and perhaps more widespread."''
-->-- Judith Merril, ''The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction'', 1967

New Wave Science Fiction was a literary movement of [[TheSixties the 1960s]] and 1970s; a rejection of the simplistic action-adventure stories of the "Golden Age" in favor of more [[LitFic literary]] and [[PostModernism experimental]] forms of SF and Fantasy, with more emphasis on writing and creativity, and less on [[MohsScaleOfScienceFictionHardness "hard"]] science, and, well, plot.

The Sixties were a turbulent time (to put it mildly), and the SF community in those days was a [[SciFiGhetto small and relatively insular one]], so the New Wave became massively controversial within that community. The New Wave was strongly associated with the Youth Movement of the sixties, and was regarded with much the same distrust and fear by older and more conservative types.

While the origins of the New Wave are somewhat murky, most agree that Creator/MichaelMoorcock spearheaded the movement with his ''New Worlds'' magazine, which, when he took over in 1964, began focusing exclusively on experimental and literary SF works.

Two anthologies, ''England Swings SF'', edited by Judith Merril, and ''Literature/DangerousVisions'' by Creator/HarlanEllison, helped crystalize the movement. ''Literature/DangerousVisions'', in particular, which called for "stories that could not be published elsewhere or had never been written in the face of almost certain censorship by SF editors," helped make what had been a primarily British movement into an international one.

The writers of the New Wave began looking beyond SF for inspiration, and [[Creator/TheBeatGeneration Beat writer]] Creator/WilliamSBurroughs was mentioned by many as a major influence.

Much like the Youth Movement, the New Wave gradually faded away as its members got older and/or found that ''really'' experimental writing had a very limited market. As most movements do, it also faced a backlash from a new generation of writers who brought back scientific accuracy, action and adventure, or both; often matching the literary chops of the by-now venerable New Wave writers. It ''did'' have a major lasting impact on the field, though, opening up science fiction to all sorts of new ideas and styles, many of which are still common today. And it left in its wake several works that are still very highly regarded. But as a distinct movement, it soon disappeared, to be replaced with the {{Cyberpunk}} controversies of the eighties.

The ideas of the British New Wave were to some extent continued in early issues of ''Magazine/{{Interzone}}'' in the 1980s. The NewWeird movement has been suggested by some as a partial rebirth of the New Wave.

And for the record, Creator/PhilipKDick was never particularly associated with or identified with the New Wave--his brand of weirdness was unique.
!! Tropes often associated with the New Wave:
* AndIMustScream: Named, in fact, for a classic New Wave work.
* {{Antihero}}: As a rejection of the classic ScienceHero of older SF.
* DarkerAndEdgier: Rejecting the Bright Shiny Future of classic SF.
* DeconstructorFleet: New Wave writers loved to deconstruct SF tropes, often in huge piles.
* {{Dystopia}}: Again, rejecting the Bright Shiny Future.
* FreeLoveFuture: As a movement of the Sixties, this was a common element.
* JourneyToTheCenterOfTheMind: Exploration of inner space was deemed more interesting than boring old ''outer'' space.
* MindScrew: Reflecting its experimental nature.
* PostModernism: Applying this to SF was basically the ''point''.
* ScienceFantasy: With its emphasis on experimentation and focus on literary qualities, the New Wave frequently blurred the boundaries between SF and Fantasy. It's no coincidence that the umbrella term "SpeculativeFiction" arose at this time.
* SexDrugsAndRockAndRoll: See FreeLoveFuture above.
* StarfishAlien: When it even featured aliens, they were usually the incomprehensible, starfish type, because that left room for experimental styles of writing.
* TrueArtIsIncomprehensible: At its most experimental, the New Wave definitely delved into this territory.
!! Examples:


* Creator/NicolasRoeg's ''Film/TheManWhoFellToEarth'' (1976), starring Music/DavidBowie, was an experimental work very much in the style of the New Wave. The source novel by Walter Tevis (published in the mid-1960s) is much more straightforward, though the basic premise of an AlienAmongUs who falls prey to humanity's vices is intact.
* ''Film/ABoyAndHisDog'' was based on a 1969 story by Creator/HarlanEllison that was originally published in ''New Worlds''.

* Creator/MichaelMoorcock was one of the main drivers of the movement, and most of his works of the time, like ''Literature/TheElricSaga'' (a deconstruction of classic SwordAndSorcery tropes), were examples.
* Creator/WilliamSBurroughs' ''Nova Trilogy'' was a science fiction work by a non-science-fiction writer that was hugely influential on the New Wave, making it a sort of proto-example.
* ''J. G. Ballard'' was one of the mainstays of ''New Worlds'' magazine, and one whose deliberately surreal post-apocalyptic epics came under strong criticism by the old guard for their lack of realism.
* Creator/AlfredBester's ''Literature/TheStarsMyDestination'' (aka ''Tiger! Tiger!'') predated the movement, but with its gritty {{Antihero}} protagonist and highly unusual experimental typography, it became a much-imitated proto-example.
* SF gadfly Creator/HarlanEllison, in addition to publishing the famous anthology, ''Literature/DangerousVisions'' (and [[Literature/AgainDangerousVisions its sequel]]), made his own contributions, like the stories "Literature/IHaveNoMouthAndIMustScream", "A Boy and His Dog" (see Film), and "The Beast that Shouted Love at the Heart of the World".
* Creator/BrianAldiss was an already-established SF writer who already had a more-than-usually literary bent, and he quickly allied himself with the movement, regularly publishing in ''New Worlds''. While most of his works before, during, and after the period are highly regarded, his novel ''Barefoot in the Head'' is often cited as an example of the worst excesses of the era.
* Creator/SamuelRDelany eventually turned his interest in mixing SF with LitFic into a career as an academic. He has many examples; his 1975 novel ''Literature/{{Dhalgren}}'' was one of the more experimental, and a surprisingly popular one.
* Creator/JohnBrunner (who is also often credited as a proto-cyberpunk writer) wrote some very successful New Wave works, like the UsefulNotes/{{Hugo|Award}}-winning ''Literature/StandOnZanzibar''. Some people at the time even denied that it could actually be New Wave, because it was ''good''.
* Controversial writer Creator/PhilipJoseFarmer had his career saved by the New Wave, which opened up markets for his explorations of formerly taboo topics like sex and religion. He remained more fond of the pulps than most New Wave writers, though. His story, "The Jungle Rot Kid on the Nod" was a tribute to both Creator/EdgarRiceBurroughs and Creator/WilliamSBurroughs.
* Creator/NormanSpinrad was another extremely controversial New Wave writer; his ''Literature/TheIronDream'' was banned in Germany for many years, and ''Literature/BugJackBarron'' was denounced in the British Parliament.
* Although Creator/RogerZelazny firmly denied any direct association with the New Wave, his novel ''Literature/CreaturesOfLightAndDarkness'' was very much in the New Wave style. In fact, Zelazny had created it as a pure experiment, with no intent of trying to publish it, until his friend, New Wave writer Creator/SamuelRDelany insisted that he had to.
* Creator/JoeHaldeman's ''Literature/TheForeverWar'' was a bizarre deconstruction of military SF, full of surreal imagery and borderline existentialism, inspired by the author's real-life experiences in the Vietnam war.
* M. John Harrison was a frequent contributor to ''New Worlds'', and eventually became the magazine's book editor. He wrote many well-known new wave works, including ''The Viriconium Sequence'', a series that started with ''The Pastel City'', and which was strongly influenced by T. S. Eliot.
* Thomas M. Disch turned to science fiction when he wasn't making progress in his chosen field as a playwright. His short stories and novels like ''Camp Concentration'' and ''334'' exemplify New Wave's [[CrapsackWorld downbeat]] and {{dystopia}}n side.

* Paul Kantner of the Music/JeffersonAirplane was a huge SF fan, and his solo album ''Music/BlowsAgainstTheEmpire'' was loosely based on a classic SF novel, Creator/RobertAHeinlein's ''Literature/MethuselahsChildren'', but the protagonists were replaced by a rag-tag band of hippies in search of free love and free music, and the musical experimentation on the album, especially the section where the GenerationShip launches, made it a favorite among New Wave fans. It was nominated for a UsefulNotes/HugoAward for Best Dramatic Presentation (a category normally reserved for movies), where it came in second to "No Award"--a sign of how strong the controversy was at the time.
* '' Music/{{Hawkwind}}'' was another band frequently inspired by science fiction, especially the New Wave--in fact, Creator/MichaelMoorcock was, for a while, a member of the band.