5 Great Works of "Weird" Fiction

5 Great Works of "Weird" Fiction

A selection of books that thrive on the absurd.

Weird Fiction is among the strangest and most unique forms of speculative fiction. It exists as a great blend of genres and stylistic approaches, fusing fantasy, horror, science fiction, and sometimes dark humour to create surreal adventures and absurd stories. To use the moniker as an umbrella term reveals a variety of facets and manifestations over the years. Weird Fiction, Slipstream, and New Weird are all basically different pieces of the same overarching genre or style. A truly in depth exploration of Weird Fiction and its various forms could likely occupy multiple extended sessions of research and reading so, for our purposes here, I’ve simply gathered a few examples of great Weird Fiction books, in no particular order.

The City & The City

China Miéville

British author China Miéville’s award winning “The City & The City” is a wonderful place to begin if you’re looking for more modern examples of weird fiction. A murder case sends an inspector down the rabbit hole into the strange underworld of his city and its “twin,” which occupies almost the same location. While the basic plot devices may sound par for the course, it is the setting of the cities and the weird world that he constructs for these events that help to push the boundaries. Most of Miéville’s work could honestly make it onto this list, seeing as he directly identifies his style as Weird Fiction, but “The City & The City” creates a bizarre setting that serves as the perfect primer to such a strange and expansive genre.

The Hike

Drew Magary

While not classified officially under Weird Fiction, “The Hike” by Drew Magary is as weird and absurd as it gets. A short hike becomes an adventure into a world of monsters, demons, and other such oddball entities. It is imagination at its finest, crafting a modern day fantasy adventure full of defied expectations and surreal encounters. Built as fantasy with elements of sci-fi, dashes of horror, and healthy portions of humour, this book comfortably fits into the mould of Weird Fiction.

Welcome to Night Vale

Joseph Fink & Jeffrey Cranor

"Welcome to Night Vale" is the literary companion piece to the ongoing audio podcast of the same name. Creators Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor have, from the outset, made the show's fondness for H.P. Lovecraft and Weird Fiction quite clear. The fictional town of Night Vale is a setting where almost anything can, and usually will, happen. Indescribable horrors, supernatural terrors, government conspiracies, interdimensional beings, and all other manner of strange phenomenon abound in Night Vale, becoming common occurrences for the equally weird and wonderful citizens of the town. The novel, much like the podcast, handles the extraordinary with a sense of mundane bemusement, twisting winking humour throughout what would be psychologically scarring in the hands of other authors. Night Vale is a love letter to Weird Fiction through and through, making it an essential read for those with a taste for the strange.

The Strange Library

Haruki Murakami

Haruki Murakami's works are some of the finest and strangest tales of modern Japanese literature, but his 2008 novella "The Strange Library" is probably among his most outright surreal. When a young schoolboy finds himself locked away within a massive labyrinth hidden beneath his local library he must find a way to escape before the monstrous ancient librarian that tends the books eats his brain. Though it is a quick read this story is one that will likely stick around in your head for some time after you read it. The fantastically bizarre events that take place are absurd to their very core and deftly mix unease with curiosity.

At the Mountains of Madness

H.P. Lovecraft

No primer to the world of Weird Fiction would ever be complete without the de facto father of the genre himself, H.P. Lovecraft. Lovecraft's stories are towering beasts, full of a descriptive language that expands the curious need for more, whilst also creating an atmosphere of crushing fear. His work thrives on the inhuman and the interdimensional, and basically any H.P. Lovecraft story could have made it onto this list, but "At the Mountains of Madness" is my pick. It was my introduction to Lovecraftian fiction, and contains many of the elements that make his other stories so frightful and groundbreaking. "At the Mountains of Madness" is Lovecraft's 1931 novella of an Antarctic exploration mission gone horribly awry. The discovery of a primordial metropolis past a mountain range delves the explorers into a world of ancient alien beings, awesome monstrosities, and creatures far beyond human comprehension. It is horrifying, yet endlessly attractive, and in my opinion a perfect start for any budding fan of eldritch horrors.

Popular Right Now

This Is The Wildest Fairy Tale You’ve Never Heard Of

"Allerleirauh" is pretty messed up.

"Allerleirauh," or "All-Kinds-of-Fur" in English, is a fairy tale that doesn’t get a lot of hype. It is similar to a lot of old fairy tales; and seems like the darker sister-story to "Cinderella."

"Allerleirauh" is one of my favorite stories because of its peculiarities. It’s dark and twisted, and logic is abandoned as the story progresses. There isn’t a happy ending, and the heroine doesn’t win.

It showcases female vulnerability and patriarchal rule.

It is unique and recycled in a way only a fairytale can seem. And in the end, the moral of the story is veiled and difficult to decipher.

Even I’m not sure what it all means.

The story goes like this:

A dying queen forbids her husband to marry anyone who is not her equal in beauty. After she passes, the king searches the realm but cannot find anyone as beautiful as the deceased queen. Over time, he realizes that his daughter, the princess, is growing to rival the deceased queen’s beauty. So he decides to marry her.

Everyone else in the story, literally every single other person, can see how messed up his plan is, and is horrified.

Appropriately freaked out, the princess gives the king an impossible task before they can marry. According to the original Brother’s Grimm tale, she requests a dress “as golden as the sun, one as silver as the moon, and one that glistens like the stars,” in addition to “a cloak put together from a thousand kinds of pelts and fur."

Somehow, the king is able to procure all of these dresses.

The poor princess decides to run away to escape her twisted fate. She flees with her dresses, the cloak, and three golden objects (all of which she stores in a nutshell because that’s apparently a thing). Unfortunately, the king and his huntsman discover find her in the woods the following morning. She is taken back to the castle and assigned to work in the kitchen.

Apparently, not recognizing the girl you want to marry is a running trend in fairy tales.

When a ball is held at the castle, the princess asks the cook if she may go watch it for a short time. She sneaks away, washes the soot from her face and hands, and goes dancing in her golden dress.

After half an hour has passed, she returns to the kitchen in her fur cloak, conceals her beauty with soot, and then makes the king a soup. She intentionally places one of her golden objects into the soup before the King can eat it.

The king calls summons the cook, demanding to know why the soup is tastier than usual and why there’s a golden ring in his soup. The princess is questioned, but reveals nothing.

This happens two more times. Balls are thrown, the princess washes up and dances with the king, before returning to her disguise and doing weird things to soup.

Why? I don’t know. The girl needs a new hobby.

At this point, the King becomes suspicious. At the third ball, he slips a ring on her finger while they dance, but she somehow doesn’t notice. The dance runs longer than normal, so she throws the cloak over her dress before returning to the kitchen in a hurry. The King gets his big aha Moment, and the princess’ identity is revealed.

She is then forced to marry the king, her father, and “they lived happily until they died.” Isn’t that nice?

Cover Image Credit: pexels.com

Related Content

Connect with a generation
of new voices.

We are students, thinkers, influencers, and communities sharing our ideas with the world. Join our platform to create and discover content that actually matters to you.

Learn more Start Creating

10 Broadway Musicals We Wish We Could See Every Day

Warning: Broadway Nerd Alert!

Can you feel (the Broadway) love tonight? We all know that on a bad day, a good musical makes us all Les Miserable (Less miserable, too). The music and dancing are more than just entertainment, they are a way of life to the Broadway nerds out there. So, everybody grab their Hairspray. Here is a Wicked list of our Broadway favorites. (Puns most definitely intended).

1. "The Lion King"

Oh I just can't wait to see this piece of art again. This is the best show I have ever seen, I promise I ain't lion. Be prepared for a musical sensation like no other. A flock of emotions, a stampede of creativity, and a pack of pride. Okay, I'll stop now.

2. "Wicked"

This is seriously the best show to see with your significant other or your best friend, even the third wheel joining the party will love this green-tastic musical. Especially the show-stopper, "Defying Gravity" makes me cry every time.

3. "Phantom of the Opera"

One thing I know is this musical is genius and flawless, and the songs are more often than not, inside my mind on a daily basis.

4. "Les Miserables"

Oh the feels...this classic will always and forever be master of the house.

5. "Hairspray"

You can't stop the beat coming from this musical extravaganza. Hairspray was the first musical I ever saw, and it truly opened me up to the world of Broadway, in the most fun way possible!

6. "Hamilton"

What seems like an overnight sensation of a musical, "Hamilton" caught us all off-guard with its charm, poise, originality, and rap inspired songs written by a true musical genius.

7. "Beauty and the Beast"

A tale as old as time with songs as catchy as ever.

8. "Chicago"

Now this one I have never actually seen, but I've heard plenty of rave about "Chicago" so I trust my fellow Broadway geeks.

9. "Newsies"

What captured my eye in "Newsies" was the incredible synchronization in every single dance number. It won't disappoint.

10. "Rent"

One of the greats, enough said.

I hope you enjoyed this list of iconic Broadway shows. I know there are so many more out there that I might have missed or had to cut out, so tell me, what's your favorite musical?

Cover Image Credit: YouTube

Related Content

Facebook Comments