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
, 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 Sci-Fi 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
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
. 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, Sci-Fi 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
, Mind Screw
, an affinity for the punk genres, and an aversion
to following Tolkien
- Mark Z. Danielewski:
- Most of Jasper Fforde's work is this.
- The novels and stories of Caitlin R. Kiernan.
- Thomas Ligotti is often considered part of the New Weird, though his work is usually far less overtly post-modern than his contemporaries', with a few exceptions. Ligotti's short story Vastarien is something of a Trope Codifier for the kinds of odd settings popular in New Weird.
- China Miéville:
- Some of Haruki Murakami's novels, such as:
- Vurt and related novels by Jeff Noon.
- WH Pugmire, writer of prose poems, short stories, and novellas based on the Cthulhu Mythos.
- Some of Dan Simmons' work can also fall into this, since he definitely blends and deconstructs and blends the types of speculative fiction in all of his works; on the other hand, the end result tends to end up looking enough like science fiction or horror that it can be put into one of those categories.
- Author Johanna Sinisalo does this genre among other fantasy.
- The works of Ann and Jeff VanderMeer:
- Ryogo Narita:
- Jeffrey Ford
- Frances Hardinge veers into this territory, with some books (Literature/A Face Like Glass, Cuckoo Song) more so than with the others.
- Brandon Sanderson. His works in The Cosmere, especially, use races and magic systems that have only tenuous ties to traditional fantasy. Most of his races were once human, and his magic has more in common with superpowers than Tolkien-style magic.
- The Abarat series by Clive Barker.
- If Gormenghast is the Ur-Example, then the Atlan series is the Trope Maker. While not exactly postmodern, these 1960s novelsnote paint a Theosophically derived setting with a Gothic brush, resulting in a perilous journey through a truly otherworldly Lost World.
- The Etched City, by K.J. Bishop.
- Going Bovine - While the author might not have written in this genre on purpose, the book refuses to have a discernible spot on the Sliding Scale Of Science Fiction Vs Fantasy and makes mention of dark matter, multiple universes, angels, and gods.
- The His Dark Materials trilogy by Philip Pullman.
- The Iron Dragon's Daughter by Michael Swanwick.
- Shifting Elements
- Unsurprisingly, The Weirdness.
- Kill Six Billion Demons, which has an unusual take on fantasy elements.
- A lot of Atlus games are this; especially the Persona series.
- 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)...
- southernfriedweirdness.com is a website that compiles New Weird stories. Notable for having last updated in 2009.note
- Tales of the Talisman is a magazine that will only publish stories in this genre.
- The SCP Foundation is about building an entire 'Verse at the intersection of Magical Realism, Urban Fantasy, Hard Science Fiction, Bizarro Fiction, and Cosmic Horror. The community is especially fond of inverting, deconstructing, and having reality ensue on even the most sacred of classic genre tropes... but also reconstructs those same tropes with a fresh spin that makes the reader see them in an entirely new light.
- Although the default Dungeons & Dragons setting is the furthest thing imaginable from this, a few of its optional settings qualify, especially Planescape and Dark Sun (although the weirdness of the latter varies significantly Depending on the Writer.)
- Numenera is a bizarre blend of epic fantasy, science fiction, Science Fantasy, and post-apocalyptic, all powered by Sufficiently Advanced Technology. There might be some actual psychics and cosmic horrors, nobody really knows for sure. It's been nine apocalypses and a billion years, and not every age was one of Humanity.