The Slipstream

A degree of the surreal,

The not-entirely-real,

And the markedly anti-real.


slip·stream (slɪp.striːm) n.

1. The turbulent flow of air driven backward by the propeller or propellers of an aircraft. Also called race.

2. The area of reduced pressure or forward suction produced by and immediately behind a fast-moving object as it moves through air or water.

intr.v. slip·streamedslip·stream·ingslip·streams

To drive or cycle in the slipstream of a vehicle ahead.

3.  a kind of fantastic or non-realistic fiction that crosses conventional genre boundaries between science fiction and fantasy and mainstream literary fiction.

The term slipstream was coined by cyberpunk author Bruce Sterling in an article originally published in SF Eye #5, in July 1989.

He wrote:

…this is a kind of writing which simply makes you feel very strange; the way that living in the twentieth century makes you feel, if you are a person of a certain sensibility.”

Slipstream fiction has consequently been referred to as “the fiction of strangeness,” at the heart of which is a cognitive dissonance.

Slipstream falls between speculative fiction and mainstream fiction. While some slipstream novels employ elements of science fiction or fantasy, not all do. The common unifying factor of these pieces of literature is some degree of the surreal, the not-entirely-real, or the markedly anti-real.