Those of you who have been following this blog for a while know that I have a rather uncomfortable relationship with the concept of genre. On the one hand, I really, really don’t like it, on the other hand, I absolutely hate it.
Genre has always struck me as the lowest sort of pseudo-intellectual caste system, a hierarchy based on superficial characteristics. It shoehorns stories into stereotypical circles. If you write a Science Fiction story, then you must write about Science Fiction characters doing Science Fiction things in a Science Fiction world. It’s a one-dimensional systematization driven by a marketing paradigm that internet shopping has made obsolete.
Lately the tendency has been to increase the numbers of genres without altering the basic linear structure of the concept. Speculative Fiction gets broken down into Science Fiction and Fantasy, then Fantasy splits into Epic and Modern, and Modern Fantasy gives rise to Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance and Paranormal Romance undergoes mitosis into Shifter Romance and Fae Romance and so on ad infinitum.
This continual subdivision is like a Cantor dust–an infinite set of infinite sets that nonetheless leaves out everything.
Recently I encountered the term Slipstream, which seems to be a term for the literary set of all sets not included in other sets. A brief look at the works considered to be Slipstream Fiction includes most of my main influences–William Burroughs, Phillip Dick, George Alec Effinger, Tim Powers, Samuel Delany, Thomas Disch, Umberto Eco, even as far back as my hero of heroes, G K Chesterton.
Consequently, I am going to start referring to my work as Slipstream Fiction. It’s not a genre, it’s a refusal to abide by the conventions of any genre, a nod to my ontologically perverse imagination. Any time that I encounter a wall I have a pathological need to break it down, climb over it, or if prevented from doing either of those, simply bang my head against it until someone comes and leads me away to a more open part of the asylum.