Flowchart: what is Weird fiction?

Jeff Vandermeer sez, "As part of our celebration of weird fiction, centered around the release this week of The Weird -- 800,000 words of weird fiction from the past century--we've posted weird writer Stephen Graham Jones's flowchart showing the differences between weird fiction, horror, surrealism, and more...we're soliciting opinions. Did Jones nail it?"

The Weird: A Compendium of Strange and Dark Stories (Thanks, Jeff!)


  1. By this standard Mieville’s “The City & The City” certainly qualifies. Discussing the book with a friend, we couldn’t even agree if the cities’ overlap was magic-topographical or mundane. 

    1. OK, I’ll bite. How can the overlap possibly be other than mundane?  Isn’t that the whole point?  An outsider needs weeks of training just to not goof immediately by reacting to, say, a pedestrian in the other city.

      (Also, there’s no unexplained / inexplicable horror there, unless you count the existential horror the protagonist feels at the concept of Breach.)

    2. China Mieville was describing his works as ‘weird fiction’ back before “The City & the City”, but stuff like ‘Perdido Street Station’ probably wouldn’t qualify according to this decision tree.

  2. Is it likely to use the verb “adumbrate”?

    It likely to put caps on vague but extremely suggestive phrases like….”Things from Outside”…?

    Does it make you feel after reading it that surely such things could be described only by a seer who has dwelt overlong on the perilous verges and has peered too deeply into the regions veiled by invisibility from normal sight?

      1. The hilarious thing is even though I was introduced to those adjectives through Lovecraft and his imitators, they are perfectly normal adjectives for describing the appearance of tumors and occur regularly in scientific papers. So cancer is Lovecraftian, I guess.

  3. It’s called the fantastic, and it’s a feeder literary genre for fantasy, horror and sci-fi. Anybody read “The Turn of the Screw”?

  4. I would like to submit the term ‘extra-dimensional nihilism’ to describe the ‘what‘ in ‘don’t know what you’re reading’

  5. Where would something like Haruki Murakami’s “The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle” fit in there, I wonder?

  6. “Does this destabilize (your perception of) the world, leaving you less significant than you thought you were?”

    Well… soooooomebody’s a wee bit precious and self-important about their writing. You wrote about a goat demon coming into the world through a little boy’s pacekmaker, or whatever. It’s hardly epiphanic.

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