Death of the “Genre Story” in Fantasy

Magic Swords“We don’t want your genre stories.”

I see this message more and more in the submission guidelines of writing journals and magazines, especially in those dedicated to fantasy and science fiction.

Speculative fiction is what we’re calling it nowadays. The Sword and Sorcery glory days are at an end. Writers and journals alike don’t want to be pigeon-holed in hopes they’ll reach a broader audience. And fantasy is fighting to be taken more seriously, which means intensified abrogation of the regular tropes. There’s still a place out there for the old classics, but that’s because they’re, well, classics. Continue reading

The Scar: New Weird

ScarThe literature of China Mieville has become recognizable to many fantasy fans as the icon of the strange, often dark, wave of avant-garde fiction popularly branded “New Weird” or “Slipstream.” Historically, the broad term (weird fiction) is most often associated with H. P. Lovecraft, and if you’re familiar with his work, you might get an idea of how this category of fiction deserved these names. If you’re not, well, you’re probably a much saner person for it.


Seeing as how sanity doesn’t alway describe me, I was enthralled by the last Mieville book I read: The Scar. It’s a curious blend of Slipstream fiction (Slipstream usually combines elements of fantasy, science fiction, and horror) and Steampunk era speculative fiction that, like its companion novel, Perdido Street Station, refuses to be pigeon-holed into a specific category. With Perdido, I felt like the novel got under my skin with a greater use of horror than anything else, but The Scar is a more balanced piece. Continue reading