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11 Comments

  1. Elena
    March 21, 2011 @ 6:46 pm

    Something you don’t cover here is modern fantasy that isn’t set in a city. Say, small town fantasy. I never really know what to call stuff like that–is it really urban fantasy if it’s not actually taking place in an urban environment? Some people call it magical realism, but others get all offended and say that only things like Gabriel García Márquez are magical realism. Contemporary fantasy? Modern fantasy? WHAT?

    Slipstream means different things to different people. My original understanding of the genre was that it’s the stuff that’s too literary to be called fantasy but too fantasy to be called literary, but other people define it as pretty much anything that’s in between two (or more) genres such that neither genre really fits.

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  2. Catherine Krahe
    March 21, 2011 @ 6:53 pm

    I’ve seen the term ‘rural fantasy’, but that was specifically for Deb Coates’ work, which I recommend highly. I don’t think it counts as magical realism because if it does, why does changing the setting slightly make it urban fantasy instead?

    I’m not totally sold that slipstream and interstitial are the same thing for just the reason you mention. I think that this subgenre’s the most likely to align with magical realism for sheer littiness.

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  3. Shaun Newman
    March 22, 2011 @ 7:05 am

    I had no idea half of these existed and I thought myself a major SF/F fan… I’m far more educated now, thank you. :0)

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  4. Catherine Krahe
    March 22, 2011 @ 10:50 pm

    Shaun, what subgenre boundaries do you see? Some of these are based on years-past reading habits rather than what I’m reading now.

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  5. Yumi
    March 25, 2011 @ 1:29 am

    My current favorite subgenre is mythpunk, named (with a sense of irony, I think) by my hero Cat Valente. Strange Horizons defines it as “speculative fiction and poetry that melds elements of myths, folk tales, and fairy tales with postmodern literary techniques and, quite often, feminist and multicultural perspectives.”

    In related news, I keep trying to google New Weird because its name makes me think it must be really cool, but I still don’t understand what it is. Wikipedia doesn’t even seem to know, which is terrifying.

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  6. Tomas L. Martin
    April 4, 2011 @ 9:15 am

    New Weird is basically dark, unpredictable fantasy. China Mieville’s ‘Perdido Street Station’ is often held up as the classic example, but writers like Jeff Vandermeer, Clive Barker and M. John Harrison also write stuff in this ouevre. It’s fantasy, but the rules are very blurred and it can get very dark and strange. The film ‘Pan’s Labyrinth’ might be a good approximation of the New Weird on screen.

    It was an important movement at the time it happened because it really shook up fantasy’s rather boring phase, but I’m not sure it qualifies as a genre anymore, it’s kind of been blended into the rest of fantasy now. It’s also a very close neighbour to magical realism and slipstream/interstitial. ‘American Gods’ by Neil Gaiman is not that far from some of the New Weird stuff.

    A similar thing happened to cyberpunk. When it first arrived it was revolutionary, particularly work by William Gibson, Neal Stephenson and Bruce Sterling. Nowadays, the internet and computer technology is so integral to the world that cyberpunk as a genre is included in some form in most science fiction.

    Most of the borders of these subgenres are very blurry and they can frequently overlap. But it’s good to know the rough landmarks.

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  7. Kayla Bashe
    April 9, 2011 @ 5:54 pm

    Kelly Link is, and quite possibly always will be, my favorite Magical Realism author.

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  8. Kayla Bashe
    April 9, 2011 @ 5:55 pm

    Oops- apparently she’s slipstream- heck, I feel sheepish now!

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  9. Catherine Krahe
    April 9, 2011 @ 6:02 pm

    Kayla, this is why people wrangle about the subgenres. Many of them are defined in terms of difference from others– the New Weird began that way, and then the genre as a whole took note and shifted.

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  10. Lisa Bao
    April 9, 2011 @ 6:35 pm

    Fantasy of Manners – I would basically call it secondary-world historical fantasy without (much) overt magic. Lots of courtly world-building. Kushner is the canonical example, I would add Sylvia Kelso’s AMBERLIGHT and maybe even FIRETHORN by Sarah Micklem even though it focuses on the lower classes.

    Magic Realism – Also Japanese, these days. Cf. Haruki Murakami.

    I’ve never read Kelly Link, but I’m surprised you didn’t at least cite the INTERFICTIONS anthology. Although it didn’t help me understand the subgenre that much, it does bill itself as proposing to define it. Also agree with you-in-comments that slipstream and interstitial aren’t exactly identical.

    You missed Historical Fantasy, which is what Guy Gavriel Kay writes these days–no quests, more magic than Alternate History and clearly secondary-world but also clearly history-inspired.

    Um, I think I originally signed up to write this post, a bagazillion years ago. Oops.

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  11. Lara Donnelly
    August 2, 2011 @ 3:19 pm

    Lisa: is Amberlight the book with the magical amber cliffs and matriarchal society?

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