Slipstream fiction, anyone?

lemonhead101February 10, 2014

I was reading a blog and came across a genre of fiction that I had not heard of before: slipstream fiction.

Defined as "fiction (both lit and speculative writing) that creates either a surreal effect or cognitive dissonance in the reader"...

Has anyone else ever heard of this genre? Or any titles?

Thanks.

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donnamira

Never heard of it myself, but found this list. This was the 'core' list, with a bigger list of over 100 titles. The complete list includes a surprising number from that 50 Science Fiction-Fantasy list; this shorter 'core' list has 2 from the SFF list.

The Core Canon of Slipstream
1. Collected Fictions (coll 1998), Jorge Luis Borges
2. Invisible Cities (1972, trans1974), Italo Calvino
3. Little, Big (1981), John Crowley
4. Magic for Beginners (coll 2005), Kelly Link
5. Dhalgren (1974), Samuel R. Delany
6. Burning Your Boats: Collected Short Fiction (coll, 1995), Angela Carter
7. One Hundred Years of Solitude (1967, trans 1970), Gabriel Garcia Marquez
8. The ÃÂgypt Cycle (1987-2007), John Crowley
9. Feeling Very Strange (anth 2006), John Kessel and James Patrick Kelly(eds.)

  1. The Complete Short Stories of J.G. Ballard (coll 2001)
  2. Stranger Things Happen (coll 2001), Kelly Link
  3. The Lottery and Other Stories (coll 1949), Shirley Jackson
  4. Gravity's Rainbow (1973), Thomas Pynchon
  5. Conjunctions 39 (anth 2002), Peter Straub (ed.)
  6. The Metamorphosis (1915), Franz Kafka
  7. The Trial (1925), Franz Kafka
  8. Orlando (1928), Virginia Woolf
  9. The Castle (1926), Franz Kafka
  10. The complete works of Franz Kafka
  11. V(1963), Thomas Pynchon
  12. Nights at the Circus (1984), Angela Carter
  13. The Best of Lady ChurchillâÂÂs Rosebud Wristlet (anth 2007
    ), Kelly Link and Gavin Grant (eds.)
  14. The Heat Death of the Universe and Other Stories [UK title Busy About the Tree of Life] (coll 1988), Pamela Zoline
  15. Foucault's Pendulum (1988, trans 1989), Umberto Eco
  16. Sarah Canary (1991), Karen Joy Fowler
  17. City of Saints and Madmen (coll 2002), Jeff VanderMeer
  18. Interfictions (anth 2007), Delia Sherman and Theodora Goss (eds.)
    Bookmark   February 10, 2014 at 7:27PM
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veer

Liz, I don't know what cognitive dissonance means. And checking through donnamira's list above I see I have read none of the books. Is there any hope for me? ;-(

    Bookmark   February 11, 2014 at 4:49AM
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rosefolly

I picked up Little, Big once but did not finish it. Could not get into 100 Years of Solitude. I did read Sarah Canary and liked it. And that is it. While I do enjoy outright fantasy when it is done well, and also alternate history, books of this nature usually do not appeal to me.

This list seems to have some overlap with a genre I know as magical realism. I wonder what the difference is. Do you suppose one is a subgenre of the other?

Folly

    Bookmark   February 11, 2014 at 12:11PM
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georgia_peach

I was thinking the same about the overlap with magical realism.

I had the opposite experience with the books you mention, Rosefolly. I thought Sarah Canary was just fair to middling. It never swept me away. It took me a couple of trys to get into 100 Years, but once I did I loved it and have re-read it a few times since. Little, Big was a slow burner, but by the end I discovered that I really liked it.

I had to read Pynchon's V in college and found it downright painful. I ended up skimming most of it. To this day I wonder if I should give Pynchon another chance.

Here is a link that might be useful: Slipstream entry at Wikipedia

    Bookmark   February 11, 2014 at 2:54PM
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janalyn

Just what we need in SFF, another category! I have attached a link that tries to define slipstream but after reading it, I think it is more of a writing style than anything else. I have seen many lists and the books vary...many I have never heard of but some of the lists have quite a few that I have read and consider simply "speculative fiction" like Atwood's Handmaid's Tale and one I have just lately read, City and the City. The latter was written by Mieville and I have just bought another of his, which I will be reading next.

This is long but I think gives a good explanation of the different subgenres in SFF.

Science Fiction & Fantasy:
A Genre With Many Faces
by Amy Goldschlager, Avon Eos

The world of science fiction and fantasy is rich and varied. Often lumped together under the catchall term "speculative fiction," these two distinct genres encompass a number of sub-genres. Many who don't read sf/f are unaware that the two though close kin are very different. Isaac Asimov, once asked to explain the difference between science fiction and fantasy, replied that science fiction, given its grounding in science, is possible; fantasy, which has no grounding in reality, is not.
The following are terms used frequently used to define elements and "sub-genres" within science fiction and fantasy literature.

SPECULATIVE FICTION:
A catchall term for science fiction and fantasy. It applies to work that answers the question "What if...?" Sometimes it is also applied to fiction considered more "literary" in nature that includes elements of SF or fantasy. Examples include Nicholas Christopher's Veronica and Gabriel Garcia Marquez's One Hundred Years of Solitude. Within science fiction, the term speculative fiction refers to novels that focus less on advances in technology and more on issues of social change, such as Aldous Huxley's Brave New World, George Orwell's 1984, Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale and Jack Faust by Michael Swanwick.

SCIENCE FICTION:
A genre that extrapolates from current scientific trends. The technology of a science fiction story may be either the driving force of the story or merely the setting for a drama, but all science fiction tends to predict or define the future.

SCI-FI:
A term often used for science fiction primarily by people outside the field. Serious readers of science fiction prefer the abbreviation sf.

CYBERPUNK:
Cyberpunk explores the fusion between man and machine. A key element is the perfection of the Internet and virtual reality technology. In a cyberpunk novel, characters can experience and interact with computers in a 3D graphic environment so real that it feels like a physical landscape. The society in which cyberpunk is set tends to be heavily urban, and usually somewhat anarchic or feudal. The "father of cyberpunk" is William Gibson, author of the seminal cyberpunk novel Neuromancer. Eos authors defining this ever-evolving virtual reality include Neal Stephenson...

    Bookmark   February 11, 2014 at 3:53PM
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carolyn_ky

I gave up on 100 Years of Solitude but did read Sarah Canary because of the RP poster of that name who loved it so much. Sorry to say, I didn't.

    Bookmark   February 11, 2014 at 7:06PM
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yoyobon_gw

Umberto Eco and his ego never fails to give me a migraine.

Is that a genre?

Perhaps Somato-lit ............mal-di-testa lit........mal-de-tete lit ??

    Bookmark   February 16, 2014 at 10:05AM
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lemonhead101

Interesting. When I was still reading the Scientology book by Lawrence Wright, he reported that L. Ron Hubbard was repeatedly having to go to court for fraud etc. One of the judges in one of his numerous cases wrote that Hubbard "likes to write science fiction, but in this case (the case against Scientology), he was writing "fictional science"... Clever judge. :-)

    Bookmark   March 20, 2014 at 10:27AM
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