So over coffee and Proukies (Madeleines–aren’t I clever?) this morning I was babbling about how there is a weird kind of trend among a certain kind of writer these days–often young, often female, (though not always) almost always small press, something that were we older, and male, and middle-press, might be called a movement. Fantasy writers who were over Tolkien by roughly second grade, and start instead in folklore and myth and from there layer in postmodern fantastic techniques: urban fantasy, confessional poetry, non-linear storytelling, linguistic calisthenics, worldbuilding, academic fantasy, etc.
I’d easily name Sonya Taaffe, Dora Goss, Holly Phillips, and myself in this group, and call us the spiritual children of Greer Gilman, and I might add in Yoon Ha Lee, Erzebet Yellow-Boy, Jeanelle Ferreira, and Vera Nazarian if they wouldn’t be upset by inclusion. I’m forgetting people, I’m sure, but it’s morning. But I think there’s a reason you find a lot of us in the same anthologies and collections. I think we start in a different place than traditional fantasy, which is ironic considering that Tolkien himself started there, back in the primal stuff of the human psyche, as screwed-up and psychedelic and labyrinthine as it is–it’s just that 20th century fantasy started from Tolkien, and saw him as the source himself, not as one branch on the tree. We tend to start in myth and branch out into incredibly varied stylistic and emotional takes on the source material, and though of course all of us produce original material not based in or relating at all to folklore, (I, for one, cracked up laughing to find that Goss’s “Sleeping with Bears” is not actually about Goldilocks) it often feels like folklore, or fairy tales, or myths, or young wives’ tales, even when it isn’t, which is kind of an accomplishment in itself.
I was standing over the sink talking to godlyperspectiv and grailquestion–who sadly get to hear most of my writerly thoughts in rough form before the internet gets them, and pity the poor souls–and I said, “But what the crap would you call that, if you wanted to call it a movement? Ballet Folklorica? Infernofolk?”
And they went to work, and I stood there in my kimono getting ready to start work myself, holding a cup of coffee, and looking at the kitchen door, when I cracked up laughing and said to the empty room:
“Dude. It’s Mythpunk*.“
*Best part? I google this term to make sure I’m sufficiently clever, and find it’s a semi-obscure gaming term. So on top of this we get to have “reclaim the vocabulary” leetness. Rawk.