Slipstream refer to airwaves around an object that is moving ahead you. Move into slipstream–if you have enough nerve to follow another vehicle that closely–and your travel will become faster and easier. Slipstream is also a writing style. It is gaining acceptance as a technique or genre (depending on who you ask). As a genre it is a story that depicts unnatural events found in fiction that are not already categorized and codified in another genre of speculative fiction, such as the fluid movement within time from past to present to future or in any other order without distinction. Supernatural events in slipstream often occur naturally, unaided by machine, technology or even psychic power.
The best example of this that I could offered happened recently. Driving out of my neighborhood in Oklahoma City, I almost immediately passed a sign signaling, Roads closed ahead. Grumbling I ask, “How am I going to get around this as my destination was only a few blocks away. So I continued doggedly on and found that the road was not closed, not even partially blocked. “The sign lied.” I snarled.
“No,” my daughter replied. “At some time in the past, this road has been closed and at some time in the future, it will be close. It is simply not closed right now.
I suppose that with roads in Oklahoma City frequently subject to such temporal closing, I should be grateful for slipping into a time in which the road was open to traffic. In slipstream a person may be traveling in his mind to the past or in the future and back in, often in a way that connects seamlessly to the present: the same season, same place, same family.
When reading walking the clouds an anthology of indigenous science fiction edited by Grace L Dillon. I noted how slipstream differs from time travel in European and American canon. Slipstream travel does not require going through a worm-hole, a hole in the time space continuum, sophisticated technology described by HG Wells, or even the sinister merry-go-round of Ray Bradbury. In his classic “Something Wicked This Way Comes” the ability to manipulate time by moving backward and forward in age results in a painful experience and even death for one individual. In the literature of Native Americans and other indigenous authors, this movement in time is considered a natural movement between the curves of the spiral history.
So, if you want to try a new genre that defies categorization, experiments with the other science fiction genres and ignores theirs conventions, try writing in slipstream.