SF/F Genre Glossary

What is The New Weird?

This is a continuation of the Science Fiction / Fantasy Genre Glossary Project posts. For the complete genre index click here.

What is the new weird?

A literary movement that reached its peak between 2000 and 2005 (a post September 11 world). It was marked by a shift in towards a darker perspective. Idyllic, pastoral, landscapes are replaced by real-world-like cities, where industrialization is a fact of life, and social problems are rife. These cities are dark, overbearing places, and like the world they inhabit, the characters too are flawed. New weird stories contain elements of the surreal, science fiction, fantasy, and horror.

The use of the term is fraught with ambiguity. I recommend the links under further reading for a more in-depth discussion on the new weird.

Examples:
Perdito St. Station – China Miéville
City of Saints and Madmen – Jeff Vandermeer

Further Reading:
The New Weird Anthology Notes and an Introduction

I mean the New Weird was a bit of a misnomer – a stillborn literary movement which these days just leads to rejection letters. In editorial offices, the NW died years ago; Mark Charan Newton

It’s likely you know more about the new weird than I do. Your comments are welcome.

5 Comments

  1. Lua

    I actually don’t know that much about the new weird but your post got me all curious- I think I’m going to do a little digging! 🙂
    But I did notice Hollywood is leaning towards this movement more and more every year…

    1. I’ve also noticed a trend (in books lately) towards grit and imperfect characters, instead of romanticism… or at least a lot of the books I’ve red recently seem to fall in that category. Though I’m not sure those were influenced by the New Weird at all…

  2. An interesting quote, particularly considering the association of the sub-genre with China Mieville. While I’ve never read anything of his, I understand his work is still very positively regarded within speculative fiction circles.

    1. I’m not familiar enough with Mieville’s work to say. Perhaps there’s already been a move away/evolotion of the original New Weird movement? Or perhaps, I was reading this suggestion in another article, the New Weird may have been absorbed into other genres or simply have become mainstream. I’ve got more questions than answers.

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