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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.

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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 that does have such elements is bad by default.

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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.

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Genres such as Romance or Historical Fiction normally do not lend themselves as well to the concept of New Weird, as merely writing characters in a non-mundane setting would end up with the work in question being recategorized as science fiction or fantasy. That said, the two are common blender-fodder as ways to put twists on other genres- say, for instance, the courtship of two Eldritch Abominations as observed by villagers in 1500s China.

Overlaps, but is distinct from Science Fantasy (which features blends or oscillations between those two genres) and Bizarro Fiction / Cult Classics. Compare with Deconstruction, Mythpunk (which also involves Postmodernism), Mind Screw, New Wave Science Fiction. Contrast with Zeerust. See also Genre-Busting, Sci Fi Ghetto, Speculative Fiction, Weird Science, and Weird West.


Examples

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    Anime and Manga 

    Comic Books 
  • Brandon Graham: Multiple works of his such as King City, Multiple Warheads, and Prophet have elements that defy explanation, but make sense in context.
    • King City has a drug that slowly turns users' bodies into more of that drug.
    • Multiple Warheads has characters use a water purity detector able to identify lingering radiation, war poisons, and black magic.
  • The Nikopol Trilogy by Enki Bilal, of which Immortal was partial film adaptation, has Egyptian gods showing up at a futuristic dystopian Paris, as experienced by Human Popsicle Nikopol when he gets possessed by Horus.
  • Saga: The comic uses a blend of Science Fantasy that blurs the lines of both, focusing on a couple on the run from their families, who are on opposites sides of a galactic war. It's never explained if the world has actual aliens, genetically engineered humans from a post-singularity, or is an another dimension; as the Earth is never mentioned, despite obvious cultural trends, which could even be a form of Bowdlerisation for benefit of the audience.
  • Neil Gaiman's The Sandman: A fantasy comic set no so much in any specific setting of fantasy, but within the realm of fantasy itself. The gods and fantasy races are bit players and the protagonist is the Anthropomorphic Personification of dreams and stories themselves. The malleability of what we understand as 'reality' is a recurring theme.
  • Shutter: Written by Joe Keatinge and illustrated by Leila del Duca, the comic features a bizarre version of New York with an assortment of intelligent nonhuman species and strange technology, like airships and giant-eagle carried gondolas.

    Film - Live-Action 

    Literary Authors 

  • China Miéville purposefully avoids writing Tolkien-style fantasy, preferring to invent his own sorts of worlds and fantasy creatures. This has made him a leading figure in the New Weird movement.
  • Daniel Pinkwater can be considered a kid's version of this. His books incorporate a blend of science fiction and supernatural elements in a way that's not defined by any of them, with aliens, werewolves, ghosts all interacting in a World of Weirdness that's also filled with mundane yet eccentric characters. Plots are inspired by old Weird Science radio, film and television, which are also frequently referenced.
  • Dan Simmons. His 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.
  • Frances Hardinge veers into this territory, with some books (A Face Like Glass, Cuckoo Song) more so than with the others.

    Literature 
  • Atlan: The series can be considered 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 Southern Reach Trilogy is a Lovecraftian or Lem-ish adventure series on the outside, but highly existential.
  • Tales of the Talisman is a magazine that will only publish stories in this genre.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Stranger Things: While it certainly pays homage to 80's Science Fiction and Horror, the series has a lot of unique trappings not found in typical Sci-Fi. Among them are: a monster that can smell blood across dimensions and hunts by melting holes in walls, a shadow realm that forms a twisted version of reality, and a 100-ft tall monster made of whirlwinds that can possess people and create living weapons out of melted bodies. And all of this is somehow connected to a shady laboratory and a plot by Dirty Russian Communists to infiltrate Middle America and open a portal into the aforementioned shadow realm.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Although the default Dungeons & Dragons setting is the furthest thing imaginable from this, a few of its optional settings qualify:
    • Dark Sun is set on a ruined desert world that mixes magic and psionics, with most traditional fantasy races dead and those that survive warped almost beyond recognition; most animals have twisted or mutated in ways that turn the setting into a Death World, and it introduces several strange new races of its own, like sentient preying mantises as a playable race and extradimensional psychic worm-creatures.
    • Eberron, pioneer of the term "Dungeon Punk", has a post-World War 1 Standard Fantasy Setting that is literally built around magitek of the "industrialized spellcasting" variety for its "default" continent, a lost continent ruled over by dragons who occasionally make spectacular interference with the outside world to enact what they perceive as the desires of a cosmic prophecy, a second lost continent where scorpion-worshipping dark elves battle against a Vestigial Empire of giants, and a fourth continent that is ruled by a Path of Inspiration created by a race of living nightmares seeking to conquer the mortal world to preserve the state of their own native dimension. Even the "normal" continent includes a blasted post-apocalyptic wasteland crawling with living, self-perpetuating spells, a race of magitek robots that were made as expendable warrior-slaves and now seek a new purpose in life, and a city that uses the energies emanating from a portal to another dimension to build towers that stretch miles into the sky as essentially magitek skyscrapers. And then there's the fledgling nation of traditional monsters, and the Hollow Earth whose interior is basically a set of portals to Lovecraftian hell-dimensions.
    • Nentir Vale sits somewhere between this and Standard Fantasy Setting. Two of its most prominent races are the remnants of a pair of fallen empires; one of Draconic Humanoids who were basically Romans ruled by clans of dragons, and another of Big Red Devils whose ancestors forged a race-wide pact with the forces of hell to revitalize their own flagging empire, leading to them fighting a Forever War with the dragon empire that ended in what was basically a mutual kill. Lesser races include magitek robots created as soldiers only to outlive the empire that created them, humanoid masses of crystal that sprang from the shattered remnants of a living gate that used to prevent the invasion of the world by Lovecraftian monsters, tribal packs of mantis-people, Fallen Angels who renounced their divine status and took up Resurrective Immortality to live amongst mortalkind, and humanoid plants from the land of faerie. Even classic races get a new spin here, including gnomes as traumatized ex-slaves escaped from the land of faerie, and minotaurs as a race struggling to cling to civilization and honor in the face of a God of Evil that wants to drag them down into mindless savagery. All of this in a world that has been through multiple high magic apocalypses and which continues to rebuild time and time again.
    • Planescape is set in a strange Gothic city of doors filled with portals to unusual realms, with factions divided by philosophical concepts and full of strange creatures that don't fit any fantasy archetypes.
    • Spelljammer has players flying around through space in bizarre jury-rigged magical spaceships, using a Ptolemaic view of the cosmos in which worlds are set within enormous crystal spheres.
  • Invisible Sun puts an emphasis on surreal fantasy; a character's discovery of magic powers allow them to access a new realm of existence where the eldritch and dream-like are the new normal. And since the human imagination can create both beautiful dreams and twisted nightmares, the Actuality reflects those ideas to an absolute.
  • Part of the mission statement for Exalted was to "burn down the generic fantasy warehouse." It has elements of a Genre Deconstruction of High Fantasy, but even more so, it involves a Genre Throwback to the time when Conan the Barbarian could meet Sufficiently Advanced Aliens, and mixes in Asian mysticism and anime Magitek to taste. There's elements of Cosmic Horror Story as well, but the writers mostly used it for setting dressing.
  • Mechanical Dream is set in an alien world of only nonhuman races, titanic trees, a giant swinging pendulum that ushers in day and a nighttime of reality altering dreams. The old monarchy of long-lived plant people has fallen to a new order of Steampunk-style industrialization and the green-skinned entrepreneurs who lead it have really fast reflexes but are cursed with constant pain. And oh yeah every living thing is dependent on an energy-producing fruit, with death coming in a few days if you don't have a bite.
  • 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.
  • Nobilis has the everyday "prosaic" world and features a "mythic world" that is part-another-dimension and part-old-cartoon where everything is alive, meaning it's possible to talk a lock into opening itself or ask how it feels about the weather. This starts busting genres when a character can hack a computer network by intimidating its central server. There are also enemies that can permanently remove aspects from reality as we knew it, with only a people who were off-world (or protected) remembering what the world was like before: with things like airships, child-protection robots, powdered-light, and who knows what else. Also, players collectively create a home base and a leader-type NPC during character creation, based on their PCs, adding more weirdness if there's no overall theme.
  • In Noumenon all the player characters are bipedal insects trapped in a bizarrchitecture mansion called the "Silhouette Rouge". It might be xenofiction except that humans (or possibly humanoid abominations) show up in the various rooms. And every room is different, stretching the definition with instances like a tent's interior or nightclub dance hall or mine-shaft; each with a surreal twist on the expected contents.
  • The Pathfinder campaign setting Golarion has shades of this with source-books now including things like interplanetary travel, a crashed high-tech alien ship guarded by barbarian hordes, spellcasters who can turn themselves into AI, "occult" monsters more common to Gothic Horror, etc. added to a High Fantasy world that initially only stood out for avoiding Fantasy Gun Control.

    Video Games 
  • A lot of Atlus games are this; especially the Persona series.
    • The series started in pretty typical Urban Fantasy spaces, but by the time of Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne, the plots truly fell into this genre. From the opening sequence, where the main cast watches the world end, to it's ending, wherein the demonic main character fights the godly force of pure creation at the center of the bubbled Vortex world in order to bring Reason into existance, New Weird Barely covers it
    • In the same console generation, the Digital Devil Saga features the reincarnating warriors of Purgatory being transformed into cannibalistic monsters by a mysterious EGG shaped pod containing a bizarre amnesiac girl, while an all encompassing eye orders them all to devour each other in order to reach Nirvana. And then it's revealed that all of the events were actually inside a computer system, an advanced military AI testing ground. And the real world is somehow worse, between the demon virus spreading havoc and the sun turning those not infected by it to stone.
  • Control, heavily inspired by The SCP Foundation, House of Leaves and The Southern Reach Trilogy, takes place in a shadowy government agency located in a shifting, seemingly infinite brutalist office building that can't be seen unless you are specifically looking for it. The player is appointed Director of said organization by a gigantic black pyramid that exists outside conventional reality, and things only get stranger from there.
  • The Destiny series, a post-apocalyptic Science Fantasy story about magical warriors revived from the dead by a Crystal Dragon Jesus to defend mankind against threats ranging from Insectoid Aliens to shapeshifting Jackass Genie dragons who feed on deception. Hard Science Fiction and High Fantasy are seamlessly blended into a setting that practically embodies Clarke's Third Law and grows weirder and weirder as it progresses.
  • Disco Elysium takes place in a mostly-modern (The '70s' idea of modern) but distinctly fantastic world that definitely isn't our earth, with its own history, on a planet where various continent-sized isolas, each made up of separate oceans, islands, and nations, are divided by growing regions of pale, patches of nonexistence which can only be traversed by specially-designed airships. Animals and plants are not all as we know them, and technology is both ahead of and behind where we were at roughly the same point culturally — though despite resembling a post-Cold War version of the '70s in the wake of a brutal Civil War in which a communist uprising was put down by an outside invasion by Moralintern (Moralism International, the loose equivalent of the UN), civilization is said to be over eight thousand years old. While much of the game takes place firmly in Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane territory, there is a distinct undercurrent of mysticism to your dreams, including an odd connection to Dolores Dei, a messianic figure who apparently had glowing lungs and waged a war to unite the world under her church. Then, near the end of the game, there's the giant, possibly sentient stick insect you discover...
  • The Dishonored series takes places in an age of exploration setting, with things like steampunk technology powered by whale-oil, an invasive species of rats, and cut-throat politics as well as magical powers, witches, and a mysterious immortal being empowering a series of special beings with magical powers to use and abuse as they (and the player choose). Its aesthetics are hard to describe and it can best be described as Terry Pratchett's Discworld mixed with Thief and Neil Gaiman with Lovecraft Lite elements.
  • The Elder Scrolls:
  • A case could be made for the Final Fantasy series being an example. Even in its earliest installments, it freely mixed sci-fi and fantasy elements, created its own races, cultures, and monsters rather than relying on fantasy standards, and boasted greater narrative complexity than the majority of its contemporaries. Especially from about Final Fantasy IV on, it becomes increasingly difficult to say whether a game is primarily fantasy with sci-fi elements, or sci-fi with fantasy elements.
    • Of particular note is the recurring setting of Ivalice, with its magic-powered robots, Renaissance Europe aesthetics, and nary an elf or dwarf in sight.
  • Heaven's Vault takes place in a world of islands floating in a vast void, with an endless flow of water in the space between them that can be navigated using ships that are part spaceship, part yacht. Schizotech teleporters and robots are used alongside a tech level that is closer to the bronze age in other ways.
  • Oxenfree: The story is a mix of supernatural thriller and coming of age story about a group of friends that go to an island to party, but ends up involved with strange ghosts with powers related to manipulating electricity and waves. The plot develops to have time travels, multiple dimensions and even a degree of fourth wall breaking interpretations to it.
  • Planescape: Torment qualifies, being set in Planescape's multiversal Gothic-themed city of Sigil rather than any sort of traditional fantasy setting, and focused heavily on questions of philosophy and identity.
  • The Thief series mixes medieval clockpunk and Edwardian steampunk with everything from ghosts and zombies to ancient magic from a god hostile to humanity. It is also thoroughly Fantastic Noir.
  • 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)...

    Webcomics 
  • FAMIB is set in an strange world where super-powers can be granted through the crystallized souls of the dead, alongside modern fire-arms and paramilitary organizations. There's also many strange species, like psychic dragons and unicorns, that are treated as normal species part of the natural world.
  • Kill Six Billion Demons has an... unusual take on fantasy elements and biblical/mythological lore. Set mostly in Throne, built upon the decaying corpses of gods long dead and seat of power of the Demiurges, it contains access to the 777,777 universes of the Wheel. Among the lesser oddities are the physical manifestations of angels being living nuclear explosions contained within suits of stone or metal armor, mostly harmless liquor that can bestow demonic attributes and rather strict "don't feed the dead" city ordnances.
  • Mountain Time merges fantasy (main characters include a pixie and a talking hamster) with sci-fi (robots, time travel, and space exploration abound) with normal urban life (most of the characters are human). However, no one aspect is particularly dominant, as most of the usual genre archetypes end up being subverted by absurdist storytelling.
  • The Overside webcomic series have an enormous variety of species and technology with plots that defy conventions of many genres, except perhaps Adventure.

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • ‘’Adventure Time’’ is a show that constantly outdone itself in weirdness in order to create cool adventures.
  • Gravity Falls involves twin siblings, Dipper and Mabel Pines spending their Summer vacation in the titular town. During their stay, the twins stumble upon various supernatural occurrences. Such as Living Lawn Gnomes, Manotaurs, Ghosts, cursed wax statues, time travelers, and Dinosaurs. However, Dipper and Mabel also have to deal with a bizarre triangle demon named Bill Cipher.
  • Hilda has a blend of several conventional fantasy tropes used in various unconventional ways. Elves are invisible, paperwork-obsessed Lilliputian Warriors, giants are mostly gone (presumably to space) to avoid stepping on people, and the Nisse are gnomes that live in the Nowhere Space of houses. Spirits in particular take all sorts of forms: there's your basic ghosts, then there are the Marra (Ambiguously Human teenage Nightmare Weavers), some spirits inhabit and shift bodies of water, and some influence the weather. The most notable trait of the show, however, is the way people view them. While they are mostly not ignorant of them, modern society tends to isolate themselves from magical creatures; Trollberg has a wall around it to keep out the rock trolls, and its denizens are mostly averse to the presence of the supernatural (with the exception of Hilda).
  • Infinity Train: Tulip, a teenage girl struggling to cope with her parents' divorce, runs away from home and is transported to another world where giant burrowing bugs scavenge across the scorched landscape, and the only safe place is inside a giant train that stretches from horizon to horizon and beyond. The cars of the train are several stories tall, and each contain a strange pocket dimension, which range from the benign (such as a car filled to the brim with talking ducks) to the deadly (such as a car that recreates the iconic Indy Escape). Aside from the train itself are the inhabitants, which range from talking animals to sentient globs of water to the terrifying bundle of wires that is the Steward. Tulip has a glowing number on the palm of her hand that seems to be going down as she gets closer to the train's engine, and every so often, the train stops and another passenger is sucked out of the train by a glowing orange portal in the sky.
  • Welcome to the Wayne: The series is about Ansi Molina and his best friends the Timbers siblings Olly and Saraline and their adventures in The Wayne an apartment building in New York with all kind of supernatural phenomena from standard like vampires and werewolves but with unusual traits like the vampires being afraid of spoons and living in an underground city below the building, and having contact with werewolf saliva to turn someone into one and using a specific lip gloss on the lips to cure them, to some strange ones like a hidden village of living pipes and their washing machine pharaoh, bat-like monsters with enormous heads afraid of their own reflection and hidden mechanic portals that go troughout the building that can lead anywere. Their mission is to protect The Wayne and its inhabitants from the strange phenomena that is Invisible to Normals and can inflict Go Mad from the Revelation and against a Nebulous Evil Organisation trying to use those secrets to control the world, along with their friends they were chosen to protect The Wayne and the world.


 
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Control

As a child in the town of Ordinary, Jesse Faden was caught up in a strange and terrifying event that shattered her world, took her brother Dylan away from her, and sent her on the run from the government. After seventeen years of fruitlessly searching for answers for what happened to her and Dylan, a mysterious presence from that event leads her to a concrete skyscraper in New York. There she discovers the Federal Bureau of Control, a clandestine government agency charged with suppressing knowledge of the supernatural â the very same group that took Dylan.

Unfortunately, her timing couldn't be worse.

The Bureau is under attack, its Director is dead, and most of its agents are either the same, missing or corrupted by the malevolent, otherworldly force that's invaded the building. Appointed the new Director by a strange entity called The Board, Jesse must fight back the "Hiss" as she delves deeper into the Bureau's strange headquarters and history.

If Jesse hopes to survive, find Dylan, and finally get some answers to her past, she'll need to do the one thing she never has ever been able to do. She'll need to take control, both of the Bureau and of her lifeâ¦

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