A Cultural History of the New Weird
This summer saw the launch of a new genre magazine called Big Echo. While regular visitors to this site may remember that I ‘have views’ on the world of online genre magazines, something about their lack of ego and their desire to put ideas first really made me sit up and pay attention to the Big Echo project. Having decided to pay attention to their output, I was delighted when the magazine approached me and asked me if I might consider something for publication. In fact, I was so delighted that I decided to give them something that I had sort of half-decided never to make public: A cultural history of the New Weird entitled Nothing Beside Remains.
Somewhere behind us and nearly out of view sit the remains of the New Weird. While other moments left behind them great fortresses, haunted houses, and vast space stations, the New Weird left nothing but a few vaulted ceilings and a promise of what might once have been. As we look back over our shoulders we catch sight of the ruins and mistake them for other things from other times. The further the ruins slip below the horizon, the more our minds shape them into the symbols we need to drive ourselves forward.
I’ve been tinkering with this piece for a few years now and readers of my Future Interrupted columns for Interzone may well recognise some of the ideas it contains.
The reason for this is that I’ve been using the Nothing Beside Remains document as a kind of critical unconscious where half-formed ideas were left in the dark to grow for months on end before being dragged back to the surface and re-worked for public consumption. As a result, this essay brings together a number of loose ideas to form something approaching a full articulation of how I see both recent developments in the history of science fiction and how genre culture functions as a set of institutions and communities.