I heard once that William Gibson coined the phrase “mashup,” but it turns out that may not be the case. 

The concept of mixing styles and genres may have come from the music scene and it has several fun names. Some of us are old enough to remember “sampling,” but two other newly discovered favorites of mine are “plunderphonics,” and “collage music” (collage as in the art form of assembling bits from other works).

In fiction, I think “mashup” took hold in the 1990s. Whatever it’s called, speculative fiction has always done it well. Originally, it was mostly copying; many early “space colonization” stories looked like Westerns, for instance. But now, SF-mysteries, fantasy-romance-horror, and “science fantasy” give readers a large smorgasbord of choices. You can read alternate-world novels that are practically LeCarre-style spy stories. Paranormal romance is basically a subgenre that grew out of a mashup. And don’t forget all the fantasy-detective stories.

Mark Hodder’s BURTON & SWINBURNE books are steampunk-detective mashups; like the movie Alien, George R.R. Martin’s Nightflyers is science-fiction horror, and Theodora Goss’s The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter mashes Victorian detective tales up with weird science, (and a generous portion of metafiction).

Who wrote your favorite mashup? What is your favorite pairing, or combining, of genres (because it can definitely be more than two). What mashup are you yearning for? Tell us in Comments. One random commenter with a USA mailing address will win a book from our Stacks.


  • Marion Deeds

    Marion Deeds, with us since March, 2011, is the author of the fantasy novella ALUMINUM LEAVES. Her short fiction has appeared in the anthologies BEYOND THE STARS, THE WAND THAT ROCKS THE CRADLE, STRANGE CALIFORNIA, and in Podcastle, The Noyo River Review, Daily Science Fiction and Flash Fiction Online. She’s retired from 35 years in county government, and spends some of her free time volunteering at a second-hand bookstore in her home town.