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New Weird

Entry updated 7 June 2021. Tagged: Theme.

Term apparently coined by M John Harrison in his introduction to China Miéville's The Tain (2002 chap), titled "China Miéville and the New Weird". It was taken up by Miéville himself in a guest editorial for The Third Alternative (Summer 2003), describing that magazine's general ambience but later understood as a supposed subgenre whose leading lights include Miéville – chiefly for his New Crobuzon sequence opening with Perdido Street Station (2000) – and Jeff VanderMeer with his Ambergris stories or Fabulations. Complex, grimy urban-noir settings and a fondness for grotesquerie are characteristic but not necessarily defining qualities. Perhaps more useful is the sense that New Weird stories freely mingle sf, dark Fantasy and Horror tropes without the disdain for genre sometimes seemingly exuded by writers of Slipstream fiction.

A relevant anthology is The New Weird (anth 2008) edited by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer, whose jointly written introduction offers the definition: "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." This may in the last analysis mean little more than "stories we like". The VanderMeers have since edited The Weird: A Compendium of Strange and Dark Stories (anth 2011). [DRL]

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