slipstream n.

fiction which, while not classified as science fiction, engages to some extent with scientific or futuristic subject matter, esp. such fiction regarded as constituting an identifiable genre; this genre of fiction

SF Encyclopedia

SF Criticism


  • 1989 B. Sterling in SF Eye July 78/2 Bruce Sterling

    We could call this kind of fiction Novels of Postmodern Sensibility, but that looks pretty bad on a category rack, and requires an acronym besides; so for the sake of convenience and argument, we will call these books ‘slipstream.’ ‘Slipstream’ is not all that catchy a term, and if this young genre ever becomes an actual category I doubt it will use that name, which I just coined along with my friend Richard Dorsett. ‘Slipstream’ is a parody of ‘mainstream’, and nobody calls mainstream ‘mainstream’ except for us skiffy trolls.

  • 1994 Interzone Aug. 4/1

    Slipstream is often confused with pure experimentation (which all looks the same), stream-of-consciousness (a hugely misunderstood phrase), and anything which doesn’t quite fit in with publishers' expectations.

  • 1994 Interzone Aug. 61/3

    Here he describes slipstream as ‘an emergent phenomena,’ so it is fortunate that this version omits the remark that genre writers ‘don’t know how to write.’ (I would be less picky if the claims for slipstream, made here and elsewhere, were less inflated—when people describe it as the interface between genre and mainstream, for instance, I wonder if they've actually read any mainstream.)

  • 1994 Interzone Nov. 58/1

    Steve Aylett’s debut collection The Crime Studio…employs a parsimonious measure of science-fictional imagery, but it lies in what some critics like to call the ‘slipstream’ of ultra-modern popular culture.

  • 1994 Interzone Nov. 61/1

    Stories range from William Meikle’s ‘The Divine Wind,’ this issue’s ‘slipstream’ piece (which in this context means ‘twee’), to puerile fantasies about talking skeletons and women getting butchered.

  • 1995 Interzone Jan. 61/2

    Territories issue four is subtitled the sf and slipstream journal. In this context, the meaning of‘slipstream’ is refreshingly unpretentious, something along the lines of ‘non-SF things that are likely to interest SF readers’.

  • 1995 Interzone Apr. 4/2

    I encouraged them to draw on the whole spectrum of extrapolative methodology, including surrealism, Campbellian ‘hard SF,’ postmodernism, ‘slipstream’ SF, stream of consciousness, the 1960s ‘new wave’ humanist school, British pessimism/disaster school, and cyberpunk.

  • 1995 Interzone Aug. 61/1

    It’s another one that claims not to be horror, fantasy, sf, or even slipstream (annoyingly referred to as ‘the “s” word’).

  • 2012 G. L. Dillon Imagining Indigenous Futurisms in Walking the Clouds 3 page image Grace L. Dillon bibliography

    As its name implies, Native slipstream views time as pasts, presents, and futures that flow together like currents a navigable stream. It thus replicates nonlinear thinking about space-time.

Research requirements

antedating 1989

Earliest cite

Bruce Sterling in SF Eye

Research History
Lawrence Person submitted a 1989 cite from a Bruce Sterling article in SF Eye.
Ben Ostrowsky submitted a 2012 cite from Grace Dillon.

Added to OED3 in March 2004.

Last modified 2021-03-04 16:02:29
In the compilation of some entries, HDSF has drawn extensively on corresponding entries in OED.