Sunday, August 11, 2013


From a discussion of "slipstream" on facebook:
I seem to remember that Sterling came up with "slipstream." Nowadays people call it "interstitial," though I don't, because I can neither spell nor pronounce it. Both terms come from within the science fiction community and apply (I think) to works that push at the traditional boundaries of SF. The words have nothing to do with fiction written outside SF. There is a lovely Halldor Laxness novel about a woman who is turned into a salmon and frozen in a glacier for decades, then recovered and turned back into a living woman. Not slipstream or inter-whatever, because those terms have no meaning in re Icelandic fiction of the first half of the 20th century. Calvino isn't slipstream. Nor is Borges. Lem might be, because he knew (and disliked) traditional SF.

I think these terms do have meaning within SF and may be useful in the field.

I don't like the terms personally, but I am not a critic. I also have a firm position on my own fiction. If I write it, it's science fiction or fantasy, dead center in the field.


Blogger Foxessa said...

Ah, no.

Love, C.

11:55 AM  
Blogger Karen B. said...

I've always understood "slipstream" to indicate spaces between or across genres, while interstitial referred to art forms (e.g., words + pictures).

As C mentioned, though, Wikipedia (as a starting resource) seems to think that "insterstitial art" also refers to genres. The Interstitial Arts Foundation agrees, apparently.

Apparently "slipstream" specifies the SF and fantasy and mainstream genres only. The internet is so educational.

5:09 PM  
Blogger Eleanor said...

This is a problem with posting something that is my part of a conversation in facebook. The context is missing. I'm not sure I can reconstruct the conversation now. I think it began with a facebook colleague questioning whether slipstream was a useful term.

I was using "slipstream" and "interstitial" as I understood them within sf/f.

However -- when I followed Karen's links to Wikipedia and the Interstitial Arts Foundation -- I found that my understanding of "slipstream" and "interstitial" is not the same as, say, John Kessel's or the folks at the IAF. They are the experts, so their definitions go.

It's pretty clear from Wikipedia that slipstream and interstitial are not the same. Though I think they share a desire to push at the borders of sf and fantasy and produce something that is strange or fantastic without being genre sf/f.

7:23 PM  

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