Kelly Link and other writers of the fantastic and familiar were recently featured in Wall Street Journal's book section.
Don't get me wrong, Link is an incredible writer and editor. I just never thought she'd get "discovered" by mainstream readers.
I always thought Link would be one of those writers and editors who would be critically acclaimed, win a bunch of awards, influence the genre, and no one outside the speculative fiction genre would know who she was.
Here's the link, go read it. There's some good writers and books in that story I'll wait.
I remember being blown away by Link's 2005 novella "Magic for Beginners," which is about a teen who watches a mysterious television program called "The Library," and knowing I would never see a telephone booth or a TV the same way again.
She and other slipstream writers twist reality just enough to transform the pedestrian into the absurd, creepy, humorous or disturbing until we readers make a deep emotional connection that kicks us in our heads and leaves an aftertaste in our brains.
Slipstream writers do what Stephen King, take something ordinary and twist it into make it extraordinary. King's pretzelication of reality leads to different emotional reactions, than slipstream writers.
It's the twist, that lime in the soda water, the bright red hat on a drag outfit, or that blue craftsman on a street of brown and brick ramblers that attracts readers to these books.
I think the tension between the familiar and the fantastic (as well as a love for the good old fashioned gumshoe mystery) is why urban fantasy among the most- popular of speculative fiction subgenres.
Reality with a twist was one of the appeals of the Ronald Moore's reboot of Battlestar Galactica, where phones looked like phones, guns looked like guns, people pulled levers and pushed buttons, rather than heads-up displays, and when characters were shot there was no magical fix-it chamber, it was surgery just like we saw on M*A*S*H* reruns growing up.
It's why (as well as fabulous characters) Harry Potter continues to be so much fun. As readers, we love seeing our real world, warts and joys, in a new light and Harry's world is twisted just enough so there is magic, including for beginners like Harry.
We love the twist and seek the comfort of the familiar.
While it's like King, and Galactica and Potter, Link's work is deeper and it's sneaker and it has staying power. I'm so glad she's got her place in the WSJ.