SF CORE Best Lists
SF ERA Best Lists
SF GENRE Best Lists
SF Subgenre Guides


img img img img img img img img

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.

Your Text Link Book Ad

This could be your text link book advertisment here, shown on every page. Contact us

Sample Book Ad

Get pulled into the world of Av'lor and fly with Sir Lanclor to defend the portal to Earth. Armor is optional.

Visit our Forum

Want to talk fantasy? Visit our awesome fantasy forum to find out what's what in the fantasy world and to meet other cool fantasy lovers.

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.

Popular Hard boiled Science Fiction books
  • 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.