Everything Is Nice

Beating the nice nice nice thing to death (with fluffy pillows)

Feeling Very Strange: Introduction

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Before I start talking about the slipstreaminess of the stories in Feeling Very Strange is is only fair to say that I have a substantially different conception of what slipstream actually is to Kessel and Kelly. This is evinced by the title of their introduction: “Slipstream, the genre that wasn’t”. Personally I am closest to a position that they dismiss early on:

To assert that it inabits the space between otherwise-accepted genres and realistic fiction is to say it is nowehere.

Kessel and Kelly, on the other hand, persist in seeing slipstream as a genre, find it wanting in those terms and so turn to another hypothesis, that slipstream – like horror – is a literature of effect. Hence the title of the anthology. To me this seems to prioritise one aspect of Sterling’s tangled, off-the-cuff original piece in a way that is not necessarily helpful to a discussion of how slipstream has evolved since. In this they take their cue from David Moles in a discussion on his blog which they reproduce as interstitial text between the stories in this collection.

Where we can find some agreement is their checklist of traits:

1. Slipstream violates the tenets of realism.
2. Although slipstream stories pay homage to various popular genres and their conventions, they are not science fiction stories, traditional fantasies, dreams, historical fantasies, or alternate histories.
3. Slipstream is playfully postmodern. The stories often acknowledge their existence as fictions, and play against the genres they evoke. They have a tendency to bend or break narrative rules.

Simply put these are works that aren’t wholly realist, aren’t wholly fantastic and are pretty postmodern. So let’s see, shall we?

Actually, one more comment: even taking into account the (presumably publisher dictated) constraint that the anthology only contains US writers it does look a lot like the usual suspects. None would look particularly out of place in an issue of F&SF.

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Written by Martin

17 September 2008 at 13:41

One Response

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  1. […] Introduction by James Patrick Kelly and John Kessel ‘Biographical Notes to “A Discourse on the Nature of Causality, with Air-planes” by Benjamin Rosenbaum’ by Benjamin Rosenbaum ‘Hell Is The Absence Of God’ by Ted Chiang ‘Light and the Sufferer’ by Jonathan Lethem ‘The Little Magic Shop’ by Bruce Sterling ‘Lieserl’ by Karen Joy Fowler ‘The God of Dark Laughter’ by Michael Chabon ‘Al’ by Carol Emshwiller ‘The Healer’ by Aimee Bender ‘The Specialist’s Hat’ by Kelly Link ‘Sea Oak’ by George Saunders ‘Exhibit H: Torn Pages Discovered in the Vest Pocket of an Unidentified Tourist’ by Jeff VanderMeer ‘Bright Morning’ by Jeffrey Ford ‘The Lions Are Asleep this Night’ by Howard Waldrop ‘The Rose in Twelve Petals’ by Theodora Goss ‘You Have Never Been Here’ by M. Rickert […]


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