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date: 11 November 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter focuses on the emergence and history of the idea of “slipstream” fiction inside the discourse of science fiction. It looks closely at the two essays on the subject by Bruce Sterling, and suggests that the original attraction of the term, despite its widely acknowledged problems, originally had to do with a particular convergence of three sets of ideas: the emergence of cyberpunk and other forms of “postmodernized” SF, the more general postmodern breakdown of strict genre boundaries, and the vitality of SF and its themes for thinking about contemporary culture. Attention to such contexts is balanced by close analysis of the reading lists that have emerged in relation to the term “slipstream,” largely based on aesthetic affect, as well as by some attention to other literary-critical categories, such as counterrealism, experimental fiction, and speculative fiction, already used to describe the types of fictions that slipstream denotes.

Keywords: science fiction, genre, slipstream, cyberpunk, postmodernism, counterrealism, speculative fiction, experimental fiction, Bruce Sterling

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