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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.

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.