New Weird

The New Weird movement is a post-modernist take on certain kinds of literary genre fiction. In a nutshell, it's a specific genre of Scifi/Fantasy/Horror literature that does not follow the conventions of derivative Sci-Fi, Fantasy or Horror, without being an outright parody or deconstruction. Similar to the New Wave Science Fiction movement of The '60s, but it took off in the mid-nineties, and was at its peak in the early-to-mid Turn of the Millennium.

New Weird incorporates elements from certain genres, but tries to avoid being typecast as stereotypical examples of any of them. The purpose of the movement is partly as backlash against the lack of respect that sci-fi, fantasy and horror works get. Proponents of New Weird are of the not unreasonable belief that the reason genre fiction is held in such low regard is because it caters to a very specific audience who likes to read the same sorts of things. The word "Fantasy" becoming almost a brand name that invokes the idea of pseudo-Europeans living in medieval times using sorcery while Tolkienesque elves and/or dragons putter around somewhere in the background. Sci-fi and Horror share similar fates, just with different connotations (spaceships, aliens and explosions for the former; serial killers, monsters and the undead for the latter). Some writers in the genre are playing right into the Scifi Ghetto themselves, with the belief that any Science Fiction that does not involve spaceships, robots and lasers must be an entirely new genre, or that any Science Fiction that does have such elements is bad by default.

Genres such as Romance or Historical Fiction do not lend themselves as well to the concept of New Weird. Writing characters in a non-mundane setting would end up with the work in question being recategorized as science fiction or fantasy.

Works in the New Weird genre are therefore, heavy in their use of Deconstructor Fleets and Mind Screw. Some of them may even take on a disdainful stance against the genres they hailed from, with liberal amounts of Take That. New Weird fiction will often — but does not have to — take place in an Urban Fantasy setting. For some reason, the various "punk" subgenres are acceptable, if not downright embraced in New Weird fiction. For the most part, anything goes as long as it doesn't Follow the Leader note . Some discussion of the genre jumping off of a messageboard thread aimed at hashing out what the term means is available here; the thread itself was started by M. John Harrison, whose Viriconium books are at least influential on the genre and are probably examples of it.

See also, Scifi Ghetto, Speculative Fiction, New Wave Science Fiction, and Genre-Busting. Not to be confused with Bizarro Fiction, Weird Science, or Weird West. Compare Mythpunk which also involves Post Modernism, Deconstruction, Mind Screw, an affinity for the punk genres, and an aversion to following Tolkien.




Video Games

  • A lot of Atlus games are this; especially the Persona series.
  • Dishonored
  • On the surface, The Elder Scrolls seems like a fairly generic fantasy series, but if you start digging into the lore you find things like a gay, time travelling cyborg; a Humongous Mecha powered by the heart of a dead god with an alarming tendency to break time; and an AI from the far future who got caught in the crossfire of a war, was driven insane and sent back to the late Merethic era where she then acted as a soothsayer for a while.
  • The Thief series.
  • Arguably, the setting of Zenoclash and Zenoclash 2 fits this, in a highly surrealist way. No standard Fantasy Counterpart Culture anywhere, bizarre beings and societies, art direction inspired by surrealist art and omnipresent odd Magitek (e.g. Stone Age-esque semi-auto pistols made from seashells)...