The Weird: Fugitive Fictions, Hybrid Genres



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Until recently weird fiction, if acknowledged at all, was usually considered to be a marginal mode in the already lowly Gothic tradition - less a genre than a particular affect. In the last ten years, however, it has come to be regarded as a separate and distinct form with an increasingly important role to play.
This evening will see readings from some of the most exciting and progressive contemporary writers in the weird mode. M. John Harrison, K.J. Bishop, Hal Duncan, Helen Marshall, and Lisa L. Hannett, will all be reading from their work. In addition Robert Kingham will be giving a talk on Bloomsbury’s strange past and present, and there will be weird sonics from The Asterism.
The readings will be followed by a Q&A session.

M. John Harrison has been called ‘a writer of faultless fluency,’ by Robert Macfarlane, ‘a Zen master of prose,’ by Neil Gaiman, ‘a blazing original,’ by Clive Barker, and, memorably, ‘an existential anarchist,’ by Michael Moorcock. He has written in many genres, from space opera, in his Kefahuchi Tract trilogy, made up of the James Tiptree Memorial Award winning Light (2002), the Arthur C. Clarke and Philip K Dick Award winning Nova Swing (2006), and the recent Empty Space (2012); and fantasy, in the influential Viriconium novels and short stories, which includes the Guardian fiction prize nominated In Viriconium (1982); to weird horror, in The Course of the Heart (1992); and realism, in the Boardman Tasker Prize winning Climbers (1989). But whatever mode Harrison is working in, he always hollows it out, challenges its assumptions, blurs its boundaries, makes it strange.

K.J. Bishop’s debut novel, the William L. Crawford and Ditmar Award winning, and World Fantasy Award nominated, The Etched City (2003), is a work of hallucinatory intensity which owes as much to fin-de-siècle Decadence and to Surrealism, and to twisted visions of the American West, such as Alejandro Jodorowsky’s El Topo, as it does to the urban fantastic that dominated speculative fiction at the time of its release. She has recently published That Book Your Mad Ancestor Wrote (2012), a collection of her varied and wonderfully antic short fictio

The sheer range and diversity of Hal Duncan’s writing projects make it impossible to pin him to a particular mode, but they all have more than a hint of the strange. His Book of All Hours (comprising the Spectrum and the Tähtivaeltaja Award winning, and World Fantasy and Locus Award nominated, Vellum (2005), and Ink (2007)) smashes together multiverse science fiction, Lovecraftian existential horror, myth, religion, classical drama, and eroticism. He has also written novellas, short stories, of which he has recently published a collection, Errata(2013), poetry,  and a musical. In addition, he is a prolific and provocative blogger.Of Helen Marshall, it has been said, by author Kelly Link, that ‘she clothes the uncanny in new flesh and then makes it bleed.’ Her short fiction is visceral, erotic, and weird, but also always profoundly human, invested in the lives of its characters. Her stories sometimes turn on quirky conceits and puns, but however light-hearted they are in conception, they swiftly plunge into horror and darkness. Her debut collection,Hair Side, Flesh Side (2012), has been short-listed for British Fantasy and Aurora Awards. Lisa L. Hannett is a writer whose tales are sometimes fiendishly complex and experimental, often have compelling and disconcerting voices, and which harrow in ways that bear only a passing resemblance to the dread traditional horror stories give rise to. Her acclaimed first collection Bluegrass Symphony (2011), which won the an Aurealis Award, and was nominated for a World Fantasy Award, does this against the backdrop of a very weird American Deep South. Her second collection is Midnight and Moonshine (co-authored with Angela Slatter) (2012).Under the auspices of www.minimumlabyrinth.orgRobert Kingham leads inventive historical pub crawls that disinter some of London’s weirder aspects and stranger correlations. Robert’s most recent walk ‘The Thin Veil of London’ - part-tour, part-theatre – took place over summer 2013 and delved into the more mysterious corners of Holborn and Bloomsbury as part of Arthur Machen’s 150th anniversary celebrations.The Asterism is the weird sonics project of author and Strange Attractor Press founder Mark Pilkington.


18.40: Doors 19.10: Robert Kingham (Talk on Weird Bloomsbury) 19.30: Break 19.40: Lisa L. Hannett 20.00: Helen Marshall 20.20: Break

20.50: Hal Duncan 21.10: K.J. Bishop 21:30: Break 22:00: M. John Harrison 22:40: Q&A 23.10: End