karen_w_newton (karen_w_newton) wrote,

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Is the "New Weird" just the old spec fic?

Considering that mainstream British fiction is so hoity-toity about genre in general and spec fic in particular, some British journalists seem not only well disposed toward the field, but vocal in their admiration. Consider this Guardian Unlimited column by Damien G. Walter which is titled "The new world of New Weird", subtitled "Why is genre fiction now the real home of literary experimentation?"

The article suggests that while outsiders may characterize speculative fiction as "unoriginal and bland," the genre is in fact engaged in a process of evolution that began with H.G. Wells and Jules Verne, continued with Philip K. Dick and Ray Bradbury and is now playing out with today's "writers of the New Weird."

My favorite quote from the article: "...the unrealities of science fiction, fantasy and horror provide unique tools with which to dissect the realities of our world."

Cool! Of course the article does mention media (TV, video games, and movies) as being "powerful forces in contemporary culture." Still, it also talks about writers, not directors or producers. Here's the closing paragraph in its entirety:

"If the New Weird writers represent a turning point it is because they are the first generation of writers to grow up completely immersed in the culture of sci-fi. For such writers the language of speculative fiction is the first and preferred means of expression, because it is the only way to describe a real world permeated on every level with unreality, fantasy and fiction. Whatever the Next Weird may bring, it seems certain that the real experimental energy of literature will remain in genre fiction."

I'm not sure I buy that statement in its entirety, though. I think some earlier writers were immersed in the culture of science fiction in their childhood, but it was a culture of the written word, not visual media.
Tags: speculative fiction

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