Thoughtful Thursday: What’s your favorite SFF mashup?

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.

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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. You can read her blog at, and follow her on Twitter: @mariond_d.

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  1. Leland Eaves /

    Something that mashed just about everything into it but still managed to work: Perdido Street Station by China Mieville. So good.

  2. John Smith /

    I thought “Pride & Prejudice & Zombies” was a pretty terrible movie, alas. I kind of like the idea of Steampunk, but I hate the way this has been marketed and monetized as some sort of junky “Gothic” look, rather than being something authentic with Victorians and machines and gears and cranks and stuff. I want something true and authentic. One of my favorite stories when I was in grade school was the 1905 “Scylla, The Sea Robber; or, Nick Carter and the Queen of Sirens,” collected in “Eight Dime Novels. by E.F. Bleiler. Maybe there could be a book-length version of that, and/or a movie. But authentic, deeply authentic–Nemo-esque, if you will!

    • You might want to try BONESHAKER by Cherie Priest. It is set in the U.S. Washington Territory during the mid-19th century; the Victorian period; with technological changes that brought about airships, advanced mechanisms due to clockwork… and zombies (not supernatural). In her world, the US Civil War drags on for nearly 20 years.

  3. SandyG /

    I don’t know if it would work but maybe a mashup of a s I-fi horror story with the feel of a gothic novel

  4. Noneofyourbusiness /

    Scifi with fantasy. Examples include Samurai Jack, Drakengard/NieR, Might & Magic, Final Fantasy, Eric van Lustbader’s Pearl Saga, Nora Jemisin’s Broken Earth trilogy, and going all the way back to Piers Anthony’s Apprentice Adept novels.

  5. The Distinguished Professor /

    Books that combine original characters undergoing drama and romance with real historical settings and educational info about the politics and real people of other times and places, particularly with devices like footnotes and occasional differently formatted chapters, ex. “A Gentleman in Moscow” and “Rules of Civility” by Amor Towles.

  6. Lady Morar /

    I like mashups of different fairytales and gothic stories.

  7. Bobby V. Berry, Jr. /

    When I read the Book of the New Sun series by Gene Wolfe I love the fantastic aspects of it. Great series.

  8. I won’t say it’s the best, but the first that came to mind was Clifford Simak’s Out of Their Minds. That is also what I thought might have been the inspiration for Heinlein’s Number of the Beast, where anything or anyone ever thought of could possibly be found in real life. In Simak’s case, the characters involved in the story range from Don Quixote to Snuffy Smith and Dagwood Bumstead.

  9. SandyG, if you live in the USA, you win a book of your choice from our stacks.
    Please contact me (Marion) with your choice and a US address. Happy reading!

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