Friday, October 13, 2017

12 Fiction Genres You've Probably Never Heard Of

Things are about to get really hipster in this post.

Like, hipster Josh from Blimey Cow hipster. Yes, I understand that a percentage of you won't understand that reference. Your loss.

You may think you read a lot. You may think you've read across many genres.

But, no matter how much of a hipster bookworm you are, this post is more hipster. This post is going to discuss all of the genres (and/or subgenres) that you've probably never heard of. So put down your specialized coffee drink and listen up:
12 Fiction Genres You've Probably Never Heard of
Note: I'm listing examples of books and movies for each genre, but some of them I have not read or seen. What? I only pretend like I know everything. Anyway, all of the examples that I have read (in case you care, which I'm not really sure why you would) are listed in green.

1. Wuxia. A genre of Chinese fiction that focuses on the adventures of martial artists in ancient China. I think you all recognized that this was a genre, but didn't know it had a name because you are uncultured swine. Well, now you know. You're welcome.
  • Examples: Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Or pretty much any of those Chinese action movies that have terrible English dubs that people pretend they've watched, but actually only caught the first twenty minutes of it before giving up. 
2. Epistolary. You know those books that are just a bunch of letters? No? Well, those are epistolary. It doesn't have to just be letters, though. It has expanded to emails, newsletter clippings, diary entries, etc.
3. Atom punk. A subgenre of punk that usually takes place in the 1945-1965. It typically deals with communism, space travel, and what the world would look like with the advancement of atomic weapons, atomic energy, etc.
4. Slipstream. This is also what could be called "weird." It's a genre that slips in and out of fantasy, science fiction, and literary fiction. It always has some type of surreal or clearly unreal elements, but also some that are very grounded in real life, thus giving it a strange feel.
5. Black Comedy. Okay, so maybe some of you have heard of this one. Calm down. I'm mostly including it because it's a slightly lesser-known genre that I adore.
It's a type of comedy that deals with dark, morbid, or taboo subjects in a comedic or satirical way.  
6. Robinsonade. Yep. This is an entire genre based off of the Robinson Cruseo book. Because apparently that's necessary. It's focus is on people (usually just one person) being stranded on some type of island (or maybe a really secluded area). It's a broad genre, okay?
7. Antinovel. The anti-villain of novels! Not really. It's just a type of experimental fiction that goes out of its way to avoid established conventional styles of writing a novel. It usually lacks a plot, traditional character arcs, linear narration, set beginnings and ends, and "proper" syntax.
  • Examples: *sigh* I don't know. Go ask that grungy, disdainful looking person wandering your nearest used bookstore. He/she will know. 
8. Jiangshi fiction. This is the long lost sister of werewolf and vampire fiction. It is a monster/horror story centering around the jiangshi from Chinese folklore. Jiangshi is a mix of vampire and werewolf: It cannot speak, shambles around, and, instead of drinking blood, sucks away people's chi. So there. That's a fact you now know that is clearly essential and not at all extraneous. 
9. Flintlock. A subgenre of fantasy that, rather than being swords and sorcery, is guns and shooting. Rather than a setting influenced by the medieval ages, it's usually set in a world similar to the industrialized period of the 18th or 19th century.
10. Mannerpunk. You may have heard of steampunk, but have you heard of mannerpunk? Of course not. It's a very tongue-in-cheek genre name that is also alternately named "Fantasy of manners." It is a fantasy novel where there is more of an emphasis on etiquette and social constructs than actual fantasy elements. 
11. Philosophical fiction. This is a type of novel where the plot and/or theme is based entirely off of a philosophical subject. They are specifically written to address a specific question within philosophy and are usually (though not always) pretty hefty and thoughtful. 
  • Examples: Pretty much anything ever written by Fyodor Doestoevky.
12. Cli-Fi. An emerging genre, cli-fi is short for "climate fiction." Put simply, it is sci-fi that deals with climate change. It can either focus on environmental sciences or climate disasters (usually man-made ones) or a negative futuristic projection of climate change or all of these. Because what better way to protest climate change than chopping down trees to make books? 
Bonus Genre: This one came to my attention after creating the cover image for this post and I'm too lazy to update it, so I'm just calling this a bonus: Bangsian Fantasy. Look it up. It's fascinating.

Now, in case you hadn't noticed: These genres are so obscure that their lines are very blurred. They have a lot of similarities to each other or with other, better-known genres. As such, there are a lot of very hipster arguments going on about which of these genres are "real" genres and which books actually fall into which genre. 

The answer to these arguments? Pffft. Like I care. It doesn't really matter. I just think these are fun genres to know about in case you ever find yourself wanting to read something weird and wonderful. Or if you ever want to sound really smart...or just really annoying. 

Which of these genres had you already heard about? Which are you interested in exploring? Do you have your own obscure genres to add? I'd love to hear from you! Get your hipster on and leave a comment below.

Have writing or reading questions? Use the hashtag #ChatWithHannah in the comment section below or on social media to have them answered on my Youtube channel!

Related articles:
12 Manga and Comic Books Worth Reading (Part 1)

Enjoy this post? Take a look around. If you like what you see, please don't forget to subscribe by email for a new post every Friday!

Some links are Amazon affiliate. Thank you for your support!


  1. Yesss, Blimey Cow!
    You're right, I'd never heard of any of these. I kind of want to try to write a flintlock now, though... Oh great. You went and gave me more story ideas. Like I really need more. Thanks a lot. ;)

  2. "I understood that reference"! :-) Blimey Cow is the best, and Josh's hipster character is hilarious!! ("Specialized coffee drink" haha!)

    Ooh, Wuxia sounds like a cool genre! I would have filed those kinds of books/films in the Western action genre, but it makes sense they would fit in a separate genre, since those stories deal with a specific culture, time, and social class.

    I've read a few epistolary novels: "The Personal Correspondence of Hannah Brown and Sarah Smith" (historical fiction of two girls whose families work the Underground Railroad), "Daddy Long-Legs", and those diaries of various princesses from history like Anastasia and Victoria and Elizabeth I (though I have no idea how accurate these fictional diaries are).

    Wow, I never heard of Atom Punk! It sounds like something that could fit nicely in one or two episodes of the old Star Trek show. :-)

    *mentally files away Slipstream because at least one novel will fit into this category*

    Ooh, I have a story that would fit into Robinsonade!! *files that away* I had been categorizing my island mystery story into the Action/Adventure genre, but Robinsonade might fit better. :-)

    I've heard of fantasy-of-manners! A few of my novels that fit that category! *adjusts hipster glasses*

    Is it weird that nearly all my novels have a dash of Philosophical Fiction?

    This is such a cool list, and I learned about genres I'd never heard of before! At the same time...I kinda wish modern marketing wasn't so constrained, you know? Like your story has to fit in one dominant genre and target a specific age group and demographic. Sometimes I wish we could go back to the days when there was no bother about age range and genre, and anyone who wanted could read the serialized stories in the papers. Basically, I want to be Dickens. :-)

    Great post!

  3. I understood that reference:) My, my, it looks like I have a few genres to check out.

  4. Antinovel! Actually, I do know of one: Last and First Men by Olaf Stapledon. I took a course in speculative fiction in grad school, and it was one of the required books. As for the other genres, yeah, no, you lost me. Though I have read some Mannerpunk. Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell is one of my favorites!

  5. I knew all but the Chinese genres and Banksian. So I looked it up. Ah, ha. Even though it's not humorous, Peter Kreeft's book Between Heaven and Hell would qualify as Banksian.

  6. Blimey Cow!!! xD Wow I'm actually proud I knew a few of these, but the rest were completely new to me. I must go explore more weird genres now... :)

  7. "Flintlock", "Mannerpunk", "Atom Punk", "Black Comedy", and "Bangsian fantasy" all sound like my JAM!!!

    Thank you so much for bringing these to our attention!! I'll have to dip my toes into them at some point in the future.

    Question: would you say that Bram Stoker's "Dracula" counts as "Epistolary"? It's supposed to be made up of newspaper clippings, journal entries, telegrams, and transcribed audio recordings if I'm remembering correctly. o3o

  8. Totally got that Blimey Cow reference. ;)

    The only one on this list that I've heard of is Flintlock! Thanks for this fun list! :D

  9. Blimey Cow for the win!

    And I guess I hate the epistolary genre. I tried to read one by Cecelia Ahern but didn't like it at all.

    I read The Metamorphosis by Kafka about two weeks ago! It was pretty fascinating.

    And flintlock sounds pretty darn cool.

  10. Just out of curiosity, does Flint Lockwood from Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs have anything to do with the Flintlock genre? That was literally the first thing that came to my mind.

  11. I've heard of a few. Wuxian, flintlock, epistolary, and Bangsian. But that partly because I've looked at long lists while trying to find my own genre. I have read epistolary fiction, but it's surpassed by what I've read which is true stories from real letters.

    I write some things in the nebulous space that is neither fantasy, not historical. It has recently been dubbed Kingdom Adventure and is likely another genre people don't know. (but may have read)

  12. Our professional essay writing service is meant to help students of all levels with their essays.
    essay writing service


Google Analytics Alternative