The Rise Of Slipstream: "The Audience Is Weirder Than It Used To Be"

Illustration for article titled The Rise Of Slipstream: "The Audience Is Weirder Than It Used To Be"

Remember Slipstream? It was a huge catchphrase among science fiction authors and readers back in the 1990s, denoting strange works of fiction that blend realism and fantastical elements. And now, thanks to authors like Kelly Link and David Mitchell, it may finally be going mainstream, a new Wall Street Journal article claims.


Top image: The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender

The article is pegged to Link's first new story collection for adults in a decade, Get In Trouble. But it also takes in recent successes by Karen Russell, George Saunders, Jeff VanderMeer and Aimee Bender. And there's a fascinating explanation for the rise of this sort of genre-warping fiction:

"I think one reason this kind of fiction has become more popular is that the world doesn't make a lot of sense to a lot of people," said John Kessel, co-editor of a slipstream anthology, "Feeling Very Strange," which included one of Ms. Link's stories. "So fiction that suggests that the world is inexplicable, but that there is some feeling of connection nonetheless, speaks to people."

Author Elizabeth Hand said the swift changes of the past few decades—through technology and other forces—have disposed readers to this kind of work. Ms. Hand's short novel "Wylding Hall," coming this summer from Open Road Integrated Media, is about a British band holed up in a country house where "something inexplicable" happens. "I think more and more people are looking to this sort of fiction as a way, perhaps, consciously or not, to navigate this world," Ms. Hand said. "And also, it's very entertaining."

The whole article, which gives me a bit of hope that there could be a genuine flowering of interest in genre-warping fiction rather than just a handful of literary authors dipping their toe into speculative weirdness, is worth reading.



Aren't they just describing magical realism?