The New Weird

China Miéville, when not fighting social leviathans, is one of the most recognisable names in the loosely defined genre of the New Weird. New Weird? Well, not everyone can agree exactly what New Weird is, or even that actually exists – social commentators are a) a contrary bunch & b) they worked out long ago if they went around agreeing on stuff they’d soon mostly be out of a job – but roughly it represents a haphazard blending of sci-fi, fantasy, steam-punk and horror with an unsurprising dollop of weirdness for good measures.

You can probably trace its ancestry back to a diverse set of forebearers, a heady mixture of authors like H. P. Lovecraft, American pulp magazines, even shows like the Outer Limits and other genre misfits. Now its grown up enough to make a few people with mo pretensions sit up and notice there’s something going on at the experimental fringes.

The Scar

I’ve read one of the books that frequently gets tagged with the New Weird moniker – The Scar – admittedly whilst semi-delirious and I’m still undecided whether it was a good read or if it flattered to deceive. That I’m also not sure whether the flu derived feeling of swirling unreality was a help or hindrance to the whole experience is pretty indicative on what sort of book we’re talking about. Certainly an acquired taste at least as far as I’m concerned.

Which brings us back to Mr Miéville and the purpose of this blog entry (gasp, there was a purpose?), because for anybody who wants to give him and the New Weird a whirl, he’s published a free short story as part of the Guardian’s Oil Stories strand.

Check it out here. It’s a bit weird.

~ by Jack on April 22, 2011.

2 Responses to “The New Weird”

  1. I LOVE China Mieville, and his nearly horror brand of New Weird. Or as I like to call it “New Weird, whatever the hell that is”. I bookmarked that short story, but I haven’t had a chance to read it yet.

    If you have the chance, please give The Scar another try, it’s one of my favorites of his. The City and The City is a more recent Mieville that’s not quite as weird, as well.

    • I think a re-read is definitely on the cards at some point, I’m always coming back to older stuff as well as looking for new titles to explore.

      However, I think I’ll try Perdido Street Station before returning to The Scar. The passing mentions of New Crobuzon seemed intriguing, a sort of hybrid of Gormenghast and Deckhard’s rain soaked Los Angles.

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