Am I Weird?


Someone, whose opinions I respect a great deal, recently read The Human Template.

He called me up and asked a number of articulate and thought-provoking questions about the book and the world I created there.  What delighted me more than anything was my ability to provide him with thoughtful and interesting answers. I’ve never perceived myself as particularly erudite, but because his questions were informed and insightful, I discovered that they were all about things I had researched well and already thought about at length. The answers poured out of me. I was finally getting a chance to talk about the thoughts and influences that informed my decisions in the telling of the story. It made me realize that I had tons and tons of stuff there wasn’t room to expand on in the book because of creative choices I had made (including the need to just shut up and get on with the story). This was all stuff I didn’t even know I knew!  

I've been shying away from doing interviews to promote the Avenging Glory books because I was worried I’d be bumbling and wouldn’t know what to say. But I now have a new confidence in my ability to provide interesting food for thought to audiences. I find I’m getting almost eager to talk about the book and the issues it raises and ideas it tackles.

Carnival of the Weird Hanover St., London, by Pang

Another thing my reader put out there was his perception that the book falls into the genre of weird fiction. He admitted he wasn’t widely read in the field, but he thought that The Human Template fit pretty snugly into his perception of the “New Weird.”

I love weird fiction. I like to read it – from Lovecraft and Clark Ashton Smith to Borges and the magic realists, from Leonora Carrington to China Meiville and Jeff Vandermeer. 

I never saw The Human Template as a work of weird fiction. I certainly never intended it as that. God knows I’ve been at a loss for a genre to fit it into when I describe it. I’m marketing it as science fiction, even though, as I wrote in a recent blog post, the second book forsakes the science fiction altogether and becomes mythopoeic fantasy. There are underlays of satire and action-adventure through both books. And as I look at the Wikipedia article on “New Weird,” my commenter's suggestions start making a great deal of sense.

That Wiki article quotes Jeff Vandermeer from the introduction to “The New Weird” anthology put together by he and Ann Vandermeer, wherein he described the new weird as "a type of urban, secondary-world fiction that subverts the romanticized ideas about place found in traditional fantasy, largely by choosing realistic, complex real-world models as the jumping-off point for creation of settings that may combine elements of both science fiction and fantasy."

Okay. That fits. 

A different friend who read the book described it with the adjective “offbeat.” When I look that up in online dictionaries, the descriptors used include ‘unusual.’ ‘contrary,’ ‘unconventional,’ and…hmmm, ‘weird.’

Perhaps I am writing in a genre after all.  It may not have its own ‘category’ on Amazon, but it will definitely help me provide context for readers and reviewers and interviewers for what to expect from my books. The more I think about it, the more I realize that this is the genre (or non-genre) I’ve always been writing. It even explains the strange mix of genres in my collection, Psychedelia Gothique. There is one thing they have in common – they’re all weird.

Maybe the weirdest thing of all is that it has taken so long for me to recognize and embrace this.

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