Sunday, 24 February 2008

New Weird in The Guardian.

I think faithful readers of this blog (all 5 of you), know how much I love science fiction, and that's because I blog about it quite often enough.

There's also another genre I really love, one I came across while looking for literature on cities. One name that always came up in discussions of books on cities was China Mieville. Intrigued, I went out and bought Perdido Street Station, which is only his second novel (the first being King Rat, a Gaiman-esque urban fantasy story). I blogged about him before here and here.

So that was how I discovered the very slipstream genre of New Weird, a genre that takes elements of fantasy, science fiction and horror, and blend them all together. It's a very interesting mix and in my humble opinion, makes for very good reading, especially with the skilled word-smithing of Mr. Mieville.

Apart from Mieville, another writer known to write New Wierd is Jeff Vandermeer, who wrote City of Saints and Madmen and Shriek: An Afterword, both books I have in my library but have yet no chance of reading. I've blogged about him as well and quite recently too.

Mr. Vandermeer, along with his wife, Ann, recently worked together to publish an anthology of New Weird which compiles together an impressive list of authors including, Mieville, M. John Harrison and Michael Moorcock, and is fittingly enough, called The New Weird.

Reading the copy for the book is enough to rub my hands in glee and anticipation:
Descend into shadowy cities, grotesque rituals, chaotic festivals, and deadly cults. Plunge into terrifying domains, where bodies are remade into surreal monstrosities, where the desperate rage against brutal tyrants. Where everything is lethal and no one is innocent, where Peake began and Lovecraft left off—this is where you will find the New Weird.
And if that wasn't enough to make me giddy, this write-up hidden in The Guardian makes me froth at the mouth:
In the beginning, there was the "Old Weird", the fiction of HP Lovecraft and Clark Ashton Smith, precursor of the modern horror genre: the aim was to scare and disturb, with the monsters very often offstage entirely. In his introduction to this anthology, co-editor Jeff VanderMeer argues that the New Weird, developed since the 1980s but crystallised more recently by the popularity of China MiƩville's Perdido Street Station, is a transgressive horror, a type of fiction repurposed to focus on the monsters and grotesquery but not the scare itself. It is a genre that defies genre boundaries, embracing a range of writing from in-your-face horror through fantasy and science fiction to mainstream, the common element being the author's willingness to "surrender to the weird", to use the conventions of pulp fiction to locate literature, and to apply literary sophistication to genre landscapes. This volume, bringing together stories and essays by such writers as MiƩville, M John Harrison, Kathe Koja and Michael Moorcock, is an ideal primer to a movement that dominated genre awards for several years. It is also a damned fine read.
Now to twiddle my thumbs until a local bookstore brings it in.

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