Autistic Fantasy – A New Literary Genre by Cameron Straughan


Autistic Fantasy? What’s that? Is that a thing? I didn’t know it existed! Well, that’s because I just invented it. Allow me to explain.

Awhile back, I read a journal article entitled “Diagnosing Fantastic Autism: Kafka, Borges, Robbe-Grillet” (Olsen, 1986). It was extremely interesting. I did not know what “fantastic autism” was, even though I’ve been a longtime Kafka fan. Turns out I’d been doing it since 1989, with no prior knowledge. I guess the practice came before the theory. I feel like an isolated tribe who gets a surprise visit from a scholarly anthropologist. He observes them, and names their customs, only for them to shrug their shoulders and say: “Really, is that what it is called? We’ve been doing it forever.”

The article got me thinking and reflecting on my own writing. It’s a bit hard to define what I do. I fumble when people ask me what I write. It’s usually easy for me to say “It’s kinda like …” followed by the standard-issue list of cultural touchstones, with the hopes they’ll understand. But now I realize what I’ve really been up to all these years: autistic fantasy.

In case you’re wondering what on Earth I’m going on about, I’ve come up with this handy list. Now, this list is based solely upon my own work and it isn’t static. It may evolve over time.

Twenty Three Traits you could find in autistic fantasy:

Playful use of language

Creation of new language

No language (lack of dialogue)

Awkward/stilted dialogue


Keen sense of observation

High level of detail

Highly visual (cinematic quality)

Connections between seemingly incongruous elements and events

Mash up of many influences / genres / styles / types

Hybridization (could be symbols, icons, characters, people or ideas etc.)

Disregard for the convention (social, cultural, literary etc.)



Willingness to shock, confront and confuse readers

Atypical sense of humour

Simple, mundane, day to day activities made to seem fantastic

Plays with time and place (temporal and spatial confusion)

“Childlike” sense of wonder and creativity (inner child allowed to flourish)

Surreal, stream of consciousness (dreamlike or nightmarish quality)

Focuses on the author’s inner world

Passive protagonists

Strong moral foundation

Strives to teach or educate

Author Bio:

Cameron A. Straughan is a Canadian writer, photographer, filmmaker and teacher. He was diagnosed with High Functioning Autism (Asperger Syndrome Profile) in May 2017. The diagnosis, after decades of not knowing why he was ‘different’ and didn’t seem to fit in, was a mainly positive experience which he is still adapting to. On the positive side, his autism has gifted him with a vivid imagination, unique perspectives, a distinctive sense of humour and an absurd view of life, which he freely expresses in his writing.

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One Comment on “Autistic Fantasy – A New Literary Genre by Cameron Straughan

  1. Pingback: Please check out my latest guest blog! | Trapped on a rock floating in space

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