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What’s Your Favorite Slipstream Story?

Sue Lange is working on a Slipstream project and would love some slipstream story recommendations. In case you aren’t familiar with this genre, Wikipedia defines slipstream thusly:

Slipstream is a kind of fantastic or non-realistic fiction that crosses conventional genre boundaries between science fiction/fantasy and mainstream literary fiction.

Slipstream falls between speculative fiction and mainstream fiction. While some slipstream novels employ elements of science fiction or fantasy, not all do. The common unifying factor of these pieces of literature is some degree of the surreal, the not-entirely-real, or the markedly anti-real.

So tell us: What’s your favorite slipstream story?

About John DeNardo (13012 Articles)
John DeNardo is the Managing Editor at SF Signal and a columnist at Kirkus Reviews. He also likes bagels. So there.

16 Comments on What’s Your Favorite Slipstream Story?

  1. Howard Waldrop’s “Do Ya, Do Ya Wanna Dance?”

    if that were disallowed, maybe James P. Blaylock’s “Paper Dragons”

  2. Two by Bruce Sterling: “Jim and Irene” and “Dori Bangs.”


    I don’t know if it quite qualifies, but Lewis Shiner’s “Love in Vain” also would work.


    Try also “The Quickening” by Michael Bishop, “The Lecturer” by John Kessel, “Man” also by Kessel.

  3. Margaret Atwood, Surfacing

    Ann Arensberg, Sister Wolf

    Keri Hulme, Bone People

    Valerie Martin, Mary Reilly



    I thought it was called ‘Mundane SF’.


  5. Ken James // March 20, 2010 at 4:33 pm //

    Not sure whether the request is for short stories only or short stories and novels, but certainly my all-time favorite slipstream novel — and my all-time favorite novel period — is Delany’s “Dhalgren.”  It absolutely pushes all the slipstream buttons.  Readers tend to have pretty polarized reactions to it, as recent comment threads here on other topics have indicated; either it leaves you cold or it takes the top of your head off.  The first reaction I completely understand and sympathize with; however, I happily belong to the second camp.

  6. Jim Shannon // March 20, 2010 at 9:44 pm //

    Robert Charles Wilson’s Spin & Axis.

  7. slothflyer // March 20, 2010 at 10:52 pm //

    either GK Chesterton’s The Man Who Was Thursday or that Neil Gaiman Story about the cat who fought demons…


    do either of those apply?

  8. Jeff VanderMeer // March 20, 2010 at 11:58 pm //

    It’s probably A.B. Sensatyve’s “The Loneliness of the Genre Trope as Expressed as a Downhill Assassination of a Mime”.

  9. Peter Nel // March 21, 2010 at 2:28 am //

    I second the choice of “Dori Bangs”, by Bruce Sterling.

    But my favorite is definitely “A Dream at Noonday”, by Gardner Dozois. It isn’t even remotely SF, and you could argue that it isn’t fantasy, either, the fantastic element being limited to a point of view device similar to what mainstream writers probably do all the time without thinking about genre.

  10. By the offered definition, I think “slipstream” is — and has been, for over a quarter of a century — my favorite. A few favorite pieces that fit in:

    • Jonathan Carroll’s The Wooden Sea
    • Most of Richard Powers’s novels, particularly Galatea 2.2, Plow the Dark, and The Echo Maker
    • Angela Carter, and more the shortest pieces
    • Harlan Ellison’s “The Man Who Rowed Christopher Columbus Ashore”
    • Much of Ursula Le Guin’s middle-period work, especially some of the stories collected in The Compass Rose (in particular, “The Diary of the Rose,” “The Eye Altering,” and “The New Atlantis”)
    • William Gaddis’s The Recognitions, which is perhaps best understood as a proto-magical-realist intersection between the “real” postwar literary New York City and an alternate-history version of it
  11. I’m emphatically seconding Jaws’ recommendation of middle-period Le Guine.

  12. I can’t believe I just misspelled Le Guin.

  13. All good choices mentioned above. For some reason the question prompted Julio Cortazar to my mind. Weird, weird early short stories like “Axolotl” and “House Taken Over.”

    I think they’d quality as slipstream stories coming from the other direction–stories from the lit’riture zone, veering towards the fantastic.

    Closer to home (geographically), for me: John Cheever’s “The Enormous Radio” and “The Swimmer,” which could have been “Twilight Zone” episodes. I think I saw the latter adapted on some other show.

  14. “Good choices” restricted to those I’ve read, of course. I’m intrigued by Jaws’ description of The Recognitions. I’m a bit conflicted over Gaddis — when I finished “JR” I felt I’d only broken even on the effort-it-took-to-read vs. what-I-got-out-of-it scale. But, dammit, my mind keeps going back to “JR,” especially when I read the financial-meltdown news.

    Can’t believe I didn’t mention Thomas Pynchon, about whose first three novels I have absolutely no doubts.

  15. Robert Charles Wilson’s Spin & Axis , Definetly 😉

  16. Thanks everybody for weighing in on this. Lots of material for me to look at.



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