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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 
  • Multiple works by Brandon Graham 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 has 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.
  • Shutter, written by Joe Keatinge and illustrated by Leila del Duca, 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 

    Literature 

    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 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:
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

    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.
  • 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 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.
  • 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)...
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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...
  • 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.
  • 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.

    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.
  • The Overside webcomic series have an enormous variety of species and technology with plots that defy conventions of many genres, except perhaps Adventure.
  • 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.

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.


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