I know it's a subgenre of scifi and fantasy, but what are the defining characteristics? What makes a story slipstream?

  • 12
    I thought it was another name for a speculative FTL technology... now you've peaked my curiosity. Jan 20, 2011 at 0:07
  • That "it's a subgenre of scifi and fantasy" is open to debate in a manner similar to magical realism of which there are examples that some would consider Fantasy and/or Science Fictional but the 'Literary Establishment' would absolutely deny. Jan 12, 2012 at 22:18
  • Is this slipstream the drive, or the genre? Jan 13, 2012 at 2:15

2 Answers 2


Slipstream is genre fiction with sci-fi or fantasy elements that aren't crucial to the plot, but provide setting and background.

  • 1
    So... stuff like Neal Stephenson's Cryptonomicon or Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse Five, or am I missing the point? Jan 20, 2011 at 6:53
  • 2
    @neilfein: Cryptonomicon doesn't count, as everything in that book is science fact, not science fiction. The plot is fiction, the settings were present and past. Slaughterhouse Five is a great example, although I have never before heard it labeled as such.
    – DampeS8N
    Jan 20, 2011 at 13:40
  • I think Christopher Moore is probably another good example, though in the fantasy vein a little more than sci-fi.
    – scotty
    Jan 21, 2011 at 2:05
  • 1
    @DampeS8N - NOT everything in Cryptonomicon is science fact. Enter Exibit A: Enoch Root. Besides, I vaguely recall Stephenson himself explicitly stating that Cryptonomicon is Sci-Fi or SciFi-yish, though I don't have a cite and not 100% certain. Mar 26, 2011 at 0:08
  • 1
    @DVK: Perhaps I missed something, what about Enoch Root was impossible? If you mean that little event in his life on page 541, I assumed a lying narrator.
    – DampeS8N
    Mar 26, 2011 at 0:43

Slipstream fiction may or may not have significant fantastical or science fictional elements. It seems the most critical factor in labelling a tale as slipstream is the sense of cognitive dissonance created by a realistic setting with elements of the sf&f genre introduced to produce a surreal effect. See Slipstream(genre) and this review.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.