The introduction to this special issue proposes a three-stage periodization for the development of weird fiction, the unstable hybrid of horror, science fiction, and fantasy most often associated with H. P. Lovecraft: Old Weird (1880–1940), which is centered on Lovecraft's literary and critical work and the pulp magazine Weird Tales that gave the genre its name; Weird Transition (1940–80), a period marked by the apparent decline of the genre but that actually sees the migration of weird elements into a broad range of genre and media practices; and New Weird (1980–present), which critiques the Old Weird's reactionary politics by adopting a radically affirmative perspective on the body and the alien. During the New Weird period, philosophy and critical theory are also infected with weird elements of nihilism and radical antihumanism, as in the speculative realist school. This historical perspective reveals the weird to be a form of “pulp modernism” that is irreducible to high modernism or postmodernism.
Benjamin Noys is professor of critical theory at the University of Chichester. He is author of Georges Bataille: A Critical Introduction (2000), The Culture of Death (2005), The Persistence of the Negative: A Critique of Contemporary Theory (2010), and Malign Velocities: Accelerationism and Capitalism (2014) and editor of Communization and Its Discontents (2011). He is currently writing Uncanny Life, a critical discussion of the problems of the vital and vitalism in contemporary theory.
Timothy S. Murphy is Houston-Truax-Wentz Professor of English at Oklahoma State University. He is author of Wising up the Marks: The Amodern William Burroughs (1997) and Antonio Negri: Modernity and the Multitude (2012); editor of The Philosophy of Antonio Negri (2005–7); and translator of Negri's Subversive Spinoza (2004), Books for Burning (2005), Trilogy of Resistance (2011), and Flower of the Desert (2015). He was general editor of Genre: Forms of Discourse and Culture from 2000 to 2013.