• Elliot Harper

What the hell is weird fiction anyway?

Good question…

Seriously, what the hell is weird fiction?

Following the sudden announcement that I was releasing a weird fiction novella, it occurred to me that some of you might have thought that very question. I was also trying to think of a way to describe my work without spoilers; and to try to soften the blow a bit when some of you actually read it. Soften the blow? That’s right, soften the blow. If I can tell you about my favourite authors and the weird (see unhinged, bizarre, messed up, dark, horrible, disgustingly awesome) things that they write about, it may ready you for what I’ve written.

Most of you who know me personally know that I am a weirdo anyway and are fully prepared for the nonsense that my brain has produced. Others of you might not be aware of this and some of you read ‘nice’ books with happy endings that make sense. Now, I’ve got no problem with anyone who reads those kinds of books. I myself have dabbled in that world in the past (yes, I have read Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code.) These days, I prefer to slum it. Dabble my toe in the dark underbelly of fiction. Peruse the top shelf of a run-down corner shop in the dodgy area of town kind of fiction. You get what I mean? Or maybe you don’t, but that’s fine as well. After all, this is just the incoherent ramblings of a bloke with a ginger beard.

So, who are these lunatic writers who have dragged me towards the weird and the wonderful?

First and foremost, I have to mention Haruki Murakami. A Japanese author who has been writing crazy books since the early 1980s. He is my favourite writer, the man who first brought me into the world of the weird. His books are like dreams; messed up and disorientating. His first novel, A Wild Sheep Chase, is basically about a guy trying to find a sheep so that it can go inside somebody and make them powerful. Yes, you heard me right. Another classic is Hardboiled Wonderland and the End of the World which has elements of fantasy and a detective story; a sound cancelling scientist, Inklings and a very strange walled town. Finally, Kafka on the Shore, a truly amazing and bizarre story with one of the characters being able to speak to cats. There are many more but I would be here all day talking about his books alone.

More recently I binge read the works of Jeff VanderMeer. His writing can best be described as Biopunk but even that makes it sound normal. Giant flying bears, mushroom people that only appear at night, underground worlds, alternative dimensions; his work has it all. The Southern Reach Trilogy is considered to be his most notable work and was recently made into the movie Annihilation. Although the movie does a good job of trying to recreate the novel it does not come close to adequately portraying the bizarre nature of Area X. City of Saints and Madmen set in the fictional Ambergris, is madness at its best. The novel consists of many different stories set in the city; each stranger than the last. This book should be considered a work of art as well as literature.

Onto to the king of weird, China Mieville. I frequently wonder whether he is a genius or a lunatic. I’ve settled on a bit of both. The Bas Lag Series is incredible and is set in the fictional city of Corbuzon. The series features various oddities such as; a giant spider called a Weaver which lives in multiple dimensions at once, a city that is just a floating armada, citizens ‘remade’ into part machines, humanoids with insect heads, cactus people and much much more. His other works are even stranger, The City & the City (made into a television series which I have heard is poorly done!), is about two cities in one that cannot acknowledge each other’s existence. Embassytown is so out there that I couldn’t even begin to describe it to you, give it a read!

Those are the three top dogs in my opinion; other honourable mentions go to Steph Swainston’s The Castle Omnibus, Joseph Fink’s Welcome to Night Vale Series, The Algebraist by Iain M Banks’ and also The Culture Series for some weird sci-fi, Ursula Le Guin’s The Left Hand of Darkness with a gender swapping species and their fascinating culture, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep by Philip K. Dick… look I could go on and on here; but I’ll stop. What I’m trying to say is that I like it strange, bizarre, absurd, speculative, thought provoking, intense and most of all, weird. I’d like to think that all of the above, plus many more, have influenced my work. Of course, I could just be talking a load of old shit (and let’s face it, I absolutely am) but I feel like I’ve given you a sufficient ‘heads up’ so that you’ll be suitably prepared. Go out there and buy some of the books as well, they are well worth the time and effort.

The search for weird never ends. This is what lead me to contacting Weasel Press and Sinister Stoat. In amongst my endless searching and submitting to various publishers, I stumbled upon them. Immediately, I realised these were the guys for me. They, like myself, like it weird. I especially enjoyed The Night at the End of the Tunnel, or Isaiah Can You See? by Mark Greenside and Miffed and Peeved in the U.K by Neil S. Reddy. Hopefully my little novella can add to the madness.

Anyway, I’ve taken up enough of your precious time with my ramblings. I hope that you have enjoyed my second blog. There will be more in the near future at around the beginning of every month so you won’t get too sick of me too quickly. I will eventually have some flash fiction and short stories available on my website; but until then, this will have to do.

The bloke with a ginger beard who writes.



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