I am looking forward to reading my new slipstream anthology Feeling Very Strange, although I might save it for the R.I.P. challenge this fall. I have dipped into its intro, however, and glanced at a blog discussion excerpted between the stories--attempts to describe what slipstream is, or rather was back in 1989 when Bruce Sterling first categorized it as "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." In 2005 David Moles said that slipstream had come to mean stories "that feel a bit like magical realism. . .[that] make the familiar strange--by taking a familiar context and disturbing it with SFnal/fantastical intrustions." Or, as the question is later put, "Is slipstream ultimately about being Margaret Atwood?"
There are no Margaret Atwood stories in the collection, but included are ones by Michael Chabon, Kelly Link, George Saunders, Jonathan Lethem and Karen Joy Fowler. Fowler's Nebula-winning "What I Didn't See" isn't included, but is mentioned in the intro in a discussion of the relationship of slipsteam to genre fiction:
So, for instance, the publication of Karen Joy Fowler's "What I Didn't See" by SciFiction, one of the major outlets for science fiction in the oughts, sparked a considerable debate among writers and fans of "slipstream" and those writers and readers of science fiction for whom Fowler's story had no legitimate place in the genre. The fact that "What I Didn't See" won the Nebula Award, one of science fiction's highest prizes, only adds to the irony.
I read "What I Didn't See" this afternoon and have to say I also don't get why this story would be regarded as science fiction. I liked it; I'm even glad it won an award, but I would no more call it science fiction than I would Andrea Barrett's science-infused short stories.
Anyone familiar with the story and willing to take a crack at making my stodgy old brain understand?