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Thread: Towards a Visionary Fiction genre

  1. #1
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin msuss's Avatar
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    Towards a Visionary Fiction genre

    What is visionary fiction?

    I'm not sure!

    Joined by several other writers--Shannon Sinclair, Jodine Turner, Saleena Karim, and Sandy Nathan--we have been trying to refine a description of the genre.

    One author, Michael Gurian, defines it as “fiction in which the expansion of the human mind drives the plot.”

    According to Gurian, what moves the story along in visionary novels are such things as visions, hallucinations, mystical experiences, paranormal abilities, channeling, precognitive dreams, eerie coincidences, profound insights, and a feeling of being “utterly at one with the world.”

    There's clearly a good deal of overlap with several other genres, such as science fiction, fantasy, magical realism, and new age fiction. What seems to be unique about visionary fiction is its focus on the expansion and evolution of the human mind, imagining new frontiers for the human spirit.

    Are there other writers here who are writing visionary fiction, or something like it? Would you care to help define the boundaries of the genre, and perhaps join a visionary fiction web ring?
    Crashing Eden (Solstice, 2012)

    Otto Grows Down (Sterling, 2009)

    A Curious Calling: Unconscious Motivations for Practicing Psychotherapy (Jason Aronson, 2007)
    http://www.MichaelSussmanBooks.com
    http://www.OttoGrowsDown.com

  2. #2
    Psychopompous AW Moderator RichardGarfinkle's Avatar
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    I might be writing this kind of fiction. It's a little hard to say. My work is usually classified as SFF, but I'm always writing from and trying to expand my understanding of human thought. Some of my work is allegorical and some is a sort of externalizing of what I think is going on in people's minds.

    But I don't tend to write about what are usually classified as visionary or paranormal experiences, so I don't know if it fits into this class.
    Sometimes, what people need is to have things asked of them.




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  3. #3
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin msuss's Avatar
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    Yes, Richard, it sounds like you have some elements of the genre and not others. That's why this whole bussiness of classifying novels is so tricky and even questionable. On one level, each novel is unique.
    Crashing Eden (Solstice, 2012)

    Otto Grows Down (Sterling, 2009)

    A Curious Calling: Unconscious Motivations for Practicing Psychotherapy (Jason Aronson, 2007)
    http://www.MichaelSussmanBooks.com
    http://www.OttoGrowsDown.com

  4. #4
    Psychopompous AW Moderator RichardGarfinkle's Avatar
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    Exactly, but if you're willing to admit my work to the discussion, let me try a few thoughts.

    There have, of course, been visionary art movements of various kinds. And there has been visionary literature, but the early forms of it are often not classified as literature. The Apocalyptic writings of the early centuries CE are usually not seen as literature.

    Whether some works should be classified in this genre is also kind of tricky. Would Dante's Divine Comedy be seen as visionary? While he clearly refines whatever initial awareness he had with literary and poetic sophistication there is a hint at the end of his Vita Nuova that he experienced some personal revelation after the death of Beatrice.

    What I struggle with in terms of this kind of literature is how much the personal should simply be related and how much it should be drawn upon to bring forth the ideas of the personal to a wider audience than would simply take in the personal experience.

    I lean toward more of the latter, because I find my own personal experiences far too idiosyncratic and drawing too much upon my own understanding. If I see something in my own mind that combines heavy modern math and elements of Taoism, should I simply relate and therefore have too narrow an audience or try to translate?
    Sometimes, what people need is to have things asked of them.




    Now on Smashwords

  5. #5
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    Quote Originally Posted by msuss View Post
    What is visionary fiction?

    I'm not sure!

    Joined by several other writers--Shannon Sinclair, Jodine Turner, Saleena Karim, and Sandy Nathan--we have been trying to refine a description of the genre.

    One author, Michael Gurian, defines it as “fiction in which the expansion of the human mind drives the plot.”

    According to Gurian, what moves the story along in visionary novels are such things as visions, hallucinations, mystical experiences, paranormal abilities, channeling, precognitive dreams, eerie coincidences, profound insights, and a feeling of being “utterly at one with the world.”

    There's clearly a good deal of overlap with several other genres, such as science fiction, fantasy, magical realism, and new age fiction. What seems to be unique about visionary fiction is its focus on the expansion and evolution of the human mind, imagining new frontiers for the human spirit.

    Are there other writers here who are writing visionary fiction, or something like it? Would you care to help define the boundaries of the genre, and perhaps join a visionary fiction web ring?
    Arg. I wish I'd heard of this when I wrote my queries. Last year I published a non-fiction book about my 22 year's worth of dream journal entries, many of which are pretty good evidence for precognition and out of body experiences. This year, my daughter talked me into writing a novel based on some of those dreams, which I did. However, I hadn't heard of "visionary fiction," so I reluctantly labeled it YA fantasy.

    AP

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