View Full Version : What is New Weird?
11-03-2011, 08:37 AM
I've come across the term "New Weird" quite a few times while reading and discussing fantasy/sci-fi literature but I've never been able to find any real explanation as to what it means. Now the wikipedia page for it is delightfully unhelpful so I thought I'd ask here since alot of people on this forum seem to be avid readers of this type of fiction.
So what is New Weird exactly?
11-03-2011, 08:53 AM
In very broad terms, it's the relatively recent subgenre of fantasy and sci-fi that departs from the more traditional conventions of those genres and incorporates a lot of surreal and post-modern elements. Beyond that I find myself at a loss of how to explain it beyond pointing at examples. The two biggest new weird authors I can think of off the top of my head are China Mieville and Neil Gaiman.
11-04-2011, 05:23 AM
In very broad terms, it's the relatively recent subgenre of fantasy and sci-fi that departs from the more traditional conventions of those genres and incorporates a lot of surreal and post-modern elements. Beyond that I find myself at a loss of how to explain it beyond pointing at examples. The two biggest new weird authors I can think of off the top of my head are China Mieville and Neil Gaiman.Do you have any other examples? I like both of those authors but I can't see any real connection or similarities in their works (although to be fair I haven't read that much by them).
11-04-2011, 06:48 AM
Again just off the top of my head, Jesse Bullington with The Sad Tale of the Brothers Grossbart (which, by the way, has some of the best cover art I've seen on a book in a long time). Jeff Vandemeer as well.
The thing is, the new weird is less a genre (or subgenre) and more a cultural sensibility shared among a small group of relatively recent authors. New weird books tend to be urban (though not necessarily modern). They tend to mix elements of fantasy, sci-fi and horror. Of course, none of these things are enough to really serve as a definition. In some ways, it's like pornography; hard to define but you know it when you see it. Of course, it's also been suggested that new weird is just a marketing label cooked up by disparate authors to give them a unified umbrella for promotion. Nothing wrong with that, but it can make analysis a bit difficult.
11-04-2011, 09:51 AM
For Gaiman the most obviously 'New Weird' novel is 'Neverwhere'. The similarities between this work and say Mieville's 'Kraken' or 'Perdido Street Station' are what make them New Weird. New Weird books tend to be urban fantasy but set in a far more complex and overwhelming setting than that of say the Dresden Files. There is to some extent a feeling reminiscent of Lovecraft, not the existential fear, but instead that the characters are far smaller than the events they take part in, they're simply being swept along stumbling from situation to situation, only really figuring out what is going on towards the end, as well as entities that are completely incomprehenisble to the characters (the Weaver in Perdido Street Station and, to a lesser extent, Islington in Neverwhere). Also an element of horror, of darkness, is present that isn't in most fantasy. If you've read Gaiman you know how 'creepy' he can be, that's kind of the feeling I'm getting at.
This is one of the "official" definitions, dunno if it'll be of any help: "It is a type of urban, secondary-world fiction that subverts the romanticized ideas about place found in traditional fantasy, largely by choosing realistic, complex real-world models as the jumping off point for creation of settings that may combine elements of both science fiction and fantasy." -Jeff VanderMeer
I have no idea if that clarifies it at all, its a very fluid genre. In many ways trying to define it is like trying to define cyberpunk in the 80s, the genre hasn't been developed enough to have created boundaries.
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