I think I’ve come up with a new way to describe what genre it is that I work in.
I think that’s an evocative phrase, and I hope it’s fairly self-explanatory. SF/F fans are familiar with the phrase “Hard SF” and even “Hard Fantasy”, and they should have at least a passing acquaintance with the concept of “Weird Fiction”.
Put them together and you get “Hard Weird”. I have expressed before my admiration for the photorealistic surrealism of Rene Magritte and M C Escher. They did Hard Weird in graphic art, I try to do it in fiction.
To define the genre in more specific terms, I’m going to say the Hard Weird is fiction in which the Fantastic elements are not explained or apologized for, but simply *are*. The stories are told in a prosaic, down to Earth style, without hysteria or hyperbole.
Ordinary people, living ordinary lives, just happen to take an odd turning and are suddenly face to face with a dragon.
These things happen.
Hard Weird should be very solidly grounded in reality in the sense that the Surreal is beyond reality, not in contradiction of it. If Mr. Jones meets a dragon in an alley, it should be a very realistic alley, and Mr. Jones should have a perfectly ordinary reason for being there.
And the Fantastic should not be unrealistic–the dragon should be a perfectly ordinary dragon, as dragons go. By which I mean that one should finish a Hard Weird tale not with the feeling that the story was Fantastic for featuring a dragon, but that reality is somehow amiss for its lack of them.