Writer and professor Stephen Graham Jones has been teaching a course at the University of Colorado on weird fiction, using The Weird compendium. His story “Little Lambs” – one of our favorites – is included in the anthology. As part of that class, he had his students create flowcharts to differentiate The Weird from other traditions. Above you’ll find Jones’s own flowchart, created at the beginning of the class, which we find fascinating. You can look at a larger version here.
We appreciate the “probably,” since some weird fiction will deviate from these patterns, but he has gotten at the heart of some of the distinctions between weird fiction and other types of fiction. And as Jones told us, by the end of the class he had come up with a more inclusive definition: “If it deviates from a reality we’re meant to accept as real, and if that deviation is threatening (or dangerous), and if that threat makes us less significant, and if that threat is neither conquered nor explained, then it’s weird fiction.” The threat part is interesting, as we here at WFR sometimes see the weird element as not necessarily threatening so much as pursuing its own aims.
What are your thoughts, dear weirdies? Agree? Disagree?