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OTHER Best Lists
SF Subgenre Guides
Hard boiled Science Fiction
What is Hard boiled Science Fiction?
Bladerunner is the quintessential visual example of Hardboiled/Future Noir Science Fiction.
Hardboiled Science Fiction, sometimes called Future Noir, is a sub-genre that blends noir with the style of the American detective novel. This sub-genre is very specific: usually male protagonist who works alone as an investigator, wears a gun, and the setting is frequently seedy bars. The story is a murder mystery that the protagonist must solve at any cost. The Sci Fi aspect comes out in the setting—usually a dark futuristic society. Often there is crossover with other sub-genres like Post-Apocalyptic or Cyberpunk.
You can view the crowd-ranked "Popular" Hardboiled Fiction books list and vote and/submit entries to it.
Other Features of Hardboiled Science Fiction
- Level of Real Science
Variable. Depending on where the story crosses sub-genres the level of real science can be anywhere from unimportant to central to the unraveling of the core mystery. For example, if a Hardboiled story crosses with a Cyberpunk story, the result will have a high level of real science.
- Level of Grand Ideas/Social Implications
Variable. Hardboiled/Future Noir can investigate ideas of identity, government control, or effects of technology in a very meaningful and thought provoking way. However, if the story stays truer to the Pulp roots, the grand ideas are minimal.
- Level of Characterization
>Moderate. For a sub-genre with Pulp roots, characters often have meaningful motivations that propel the plot forward.
- Level of Plot Complexity
High. Intricate plots filled with twists, turns, and shocking reveals are common in this sub-genre where the protagonist must untangle a mystery.
- Level of Violence
High. With a gun-toting, morally grey protagonist chasing down murderers, violence is bound to erupt.
Related Science Fiction subgenres
Pulp Science Fiction. Pulp fiction was the source of the hard-boiled detective, so there are sometimes pulpy characteristics in Hard-boiled Sci Fi.
Detective Science Fiction. Hard-boiled is one specific type of detective story. You might look at SpyFy science fiction, as elements (high tech spy gadgets) cross into Hardboiled, specifically if there is a futuristic detective plot.
Cyberpunk. Many elements of cyberpunk are featured in Tech Noir/Hard boiled.
Gothic Science Fiction isn't for you if
You like strong female protagonists. If you are easily lost in the plot twists of mysteries.
- 1 Yiddish Policemen's Union
By Michael Chabon. An alternate history story blended with noir detective fiction that follows a detective trying to solve a murder.
- 2 Tobacco Stained Mountain Goat
By Andrez Bergen. Taking place in a post-apocalyptic world this story of guns, intrigue, and general mayhem also alludes to some film noir classics with a touch of humour.
- 3 Altered Carbon
By Richard K. Morgan. Humanity has spread out all over the galaxy and existence is a commodity that can be purchased. The protagonist is an example of a typical shades of grey noir hero. His new assignment takes him 180 light years from home into a shady conspiracy.
- 4 Gun with Occasional Music
By Jonathan Lethem. A wry and satiric look at the near-future where animals are a part of society, life is monitored with karma cards, and mind-numbing drugs are widely used. The protagonist is a typical noir investigator with a self-deprecating sense of humour and knack for satire.
- 5 A Scanner Darkly
By Philip K. Dick. A dark look at drug culture where law enforcement and criminals are one in the same and where friends are enemies.
- 6 Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency
By Douglas Adams. A comedic take on the sub-genre, with an unorthodox protagonist, the book jabs at the detective side and makes light of Sci Fi tropes.
- 7 When Gravity Fails
By George Alec Effinger Also a Cyberpunk novel, this one takes place in 22nd century North Africa, where a down-and-out detective must undergo a sophisticated surgery to catch a killer who has been modified with the personality and abilities of every known psychopath.
- 8 Noir
By K.W. Jeter. A futuristic story of a city that is both dazzling neon and dark underground. Grim and gritty, this murder mystery delves into the darkness of a high-tech paradise.
- 9 Century Rain
By Alastair Reynolds. The future is noir-ish, technology has caused a catastrophe that make Earth uninhabitable. An archeologist is sent to investigate a copy of Earth that is found at the other end of a worm hole. This copy is Earth contains a slightly-modified 1950's Paris, where a detective/jazz musician is in the middle of a strange and dangerous investigation.
- 10 Hard-boiled Wonderland and the End of the World
By Haruki Murakami . Clearly influenced by hard-boiled detective fiction and cyberpunk fiction this novel does not quite fit into the hard-boiled schematic, but it is a detective story combined with science fiction that descends into an underworld to find a man's mind.
- Neuromancer (William Gibson)
- Snow Crash (Neal Stephenson)
- kop (Warren Hammond)
- Flashback (Dan Simmons)
- red planet noir (D B Grady)
- Noir K.w. Jeter (K.W. Jeter)
- Bone Song (John Meaney)
- Kiln People (David Brin)