Monday, July 16, 2007

Novels of Postmodern Sensibility: The Core Canon of Slipstream

From Slipstream by Bruce Sterling:

This genre is not "category" SF; it is not even "genre" SF. Instead, it is a contemporary kind of writing which has set its face against consensus reality. It is a fantastic, surreal sometimes, speculative on occasion, but not rigorously so. It does not aim to provoke a "sense of wonder" or to systematically extrapolate in the manner of classic science fiction.

Instead, this is a kind of writing which simply makes you feel very strange; the way that living in the late twentieth century makes you feel, if you are a person of a certain sensibility. We could call this kind of fiction Novels of Postmodern Sensibility, but that looks pretty bad on a category rack, and requires an acronym besides; so for the sake of convenience and argument, we will call these books "slipstream."

"Slipstream" is not all that catchy a term, and if this young genre ever becomes an actual category I doubt it will use that name, which I just coined along with my friend Richard Dorsett. "Slipstream" is a parody of "mainstream," and nobody calls mainstream "mainstream" except for us skiffy trolls.

Nor is it at all likely that slipstream will actually become a full-fledged genre, much less a commercially successful category. The odds against it are stiff. Slipstream authors must work outside the cozy infrastructure of genre magazines, specialized genre criticism, and the authorial esprit-de-corps of a common genre cause.

The Core Canon of Slipstream

1. Collected Fictions (1998), Jorge Luis Borges
2. Invisible Cities (1972, trans 1974), Italo Calvino
3. Little, Big (1981), John Crowley
4. Magic for Beginners (2005), Kelly Link
5. Dhalgren (1974), Samuel R. Delany
6. Burning Your Boats: The Collected Short Stories (1995), Angela Carter
7. One Hundred Years of Solitude (1967, trans 1970), Gabriel Garcia Marquez
8. The Ægypt Cycle (1987-2007), John Crowley
9. Feeling Very Strange: The Slipstream Anthology (2006), John Kessel and James Patrick Kelly (eds.)
10. The Complete Short Stories (2001), J.G. Ballard
11. Stranger Things Happen (2001), Kelly Link
12. The Lottery: And Other Stories (1949), Shirley Jackson
13. Gravity's Rainbow (Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition) (1973), Thomas Pynchon
14. Conjunctions: 39, The New Wave Fabulists (2002), Peter Straub (ed.)
15. The Metamorphosis (1915), Franz Kafka
16. The Trial (1925), Franz Kafka
17. Orlando: A Biography (1928), Virginia Woolf
18. The Castle: A new translation based on the restored text (1926), Franz Kafka
19. The Complete Works of Franz Kafka
20. V. (Perennial Classics) (1963), Thomas Pynchon
21. Nights at the Circus (1984), Angela Carter
22. The Best of Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet (anth 2007), Kelly Link and Gavin Grant (eds.)
23. The Heat Death of the Universe and Other Stories [UK title Busy About the Tree of Life] (coll 1988), Pamela Zoline
24. Foucault's Pendulum (1988, trans 1989), Umberto Eco
25. Sarah Canary (1991), Karen Joy Fowler
26. City of Saints and Madmen (coll 2002), Jeff VanderMeer
27. Interfictions: An Anthology of Interstitial Writing (anth 2007), Delia Sherman and Theodora Goss (eds.)

via Beyond the Beyond

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