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New Weird Fantasy

What is New Weird Fantasy (aka Slipstream fantasy)?

This sub-genre, also known as “Slipstream”, once only popular with a limited audience is growing in mainstream appeal as more and more fantasy readers are looking for fantasy “that’s different.” And slipstream fantasy IS different.

It's a modern, non-linear, magical-realism type of almost experimental fiction, dancing between borders of science fiction, fantasy and mainstream literary fiction.

Cognitive dissonance seems to be almost a goal of this type, with its unresolved endings, chronological gaps or displacement, refusal to accurately or completely describe characters, and a staunch determination to fit no other category of fantasy.

In layman’s terms, New Weird combines elements of pulp fiction, horror, dark fantasy, surrealism (including magic realism), steampunk, and traditional fantasy into a tasty mix.

There are so many different types of books in this category that it's difficult to characterize them as a whole. A rule of thumb is that if it makes you feel weird, it's probably achieving its goal.


New Weird Characteristics

  • Level of Magic

    Highly magical overall, but there are endless ways its portrayed in these books. Since there is no predicting the content, direction or tone, there's no point trying to corral the depiction of magic.

  • Level of Characterization

    Level of characterization varies greatly, with some richly drawn and complex, some one-dimensional, some simply symbolic. Any or all of these may exist in the same story. The ball will be in your court as far as interpreting them.

  • Level of Plot Complexity

    It can be hard to follow the plot of these books. Again, readers are expected to put a lot of work into making the story meaningful.

  • Level of Violence

    Both violence and sex are commonly depicted, and may be of a weird nature.

Related Fantasy Subgenres




    Slipstream really has no counterparts among the other types of fantasy, but some examples may contain elements ofLiterary FantasyMythic Fantasy, and/or Dark Fantasy. In some cases, a healthy dose of Urban fantasy and Steampunk fantasy may be mixed in as well.

Slipstream Fantasy Isn’t For You If...

You don't like to be challenged with little possibility of finding resolution or closure. Authors in this category will set you up expecting that you enjoy falling down.