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Author Topic: Science Fiction Mystery  (Read 9145 times)

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Inner Prop

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Science Fiction Mystery
« on: November 09, 2011, 08:54:58 AM »

I want to write a Science Fiction Mystery and the first advice any writing coach gives is to read.

I've read and reread Asimov's books (Caves of Steel, Naked Sun and Robots of Dawn), but are there more modern ones out there?

What about Science Fiction Mystery shorts?

Thanks very much.
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MTH

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Re: Science Fiction Mystery
« Reply #1 on: November 11, 2011, 03:05:22 PM »

I just read a book that might qualify. The Revisionists by Thomas Mullen. Another would be "Light Bringer" by Pat Bertram. The Revisionists started off being very Sci Fi but ended up being more of a mystery.
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Lance Charnes

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Re: Science Fiction Mystery
« Reply #2 on: November 12, 2011, 01:06:33 PM »

It would help to know what sub-genre you're considering. Spec fic is huge. Other worlds? Future Earth? Alternative history? Dystopia? Steampunk? Cyberpunk?

Knowing this, it'll be easier to make recommendations.
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Inner Prop

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Re: Science Fiction Mystery
« Reply #3 on: November 13, 2011, 12:38:42 AM »

Generally my SciFi requirements are only that it not be vulgar (a lot of the cyberpunk I've seen seems to be excessively vulgar, but I'm willing to be shown wrong).

The thing that is probably a tighter requirement is that I want a actual mystery, with some sort of specific sleuth who is intentionally investigating a crime.

I don't know if that is what is currently going, I hope it is, because that is what I like.

My favorite mystery writers are Doyle, Poe, Stout and Christie.  I've read Lilian Jackson Braun, Sue Grafton, Tony Hillerman, and Janet Evanovich, but I prefer them less.
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Lance Charnes

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Re: Science Fiction Mystery
« Reply #4 on: November 13, 2011, 01:53:09 AM »

Well, again, it sounds like you need to narrow down what sort of SF/spec fic sub-genre you want to work in. It defines your world; the mystery is just what you run through it. Asking whether there are SF writers out there other than Asimov implies you really need to connect with SF before you can consider writing anything in that genre.

Start with some Robert Heinlein, Phillip K. Dick, Kurt Vonnegut, Ray Bradbury, Ursula LeGuin, Frank Herbert, Orson Scott Card, Arthur C. Clarke and of course George Orwell. This will give you the classics across multiple sub-genres. Then look at the last 10-15 years of Hugo Award nominees (http://www.thehugoawards.org/). This will show you what's happening now.

If you're of a more literary bent, Margaret Atwood (The Handmaid's Tale), Cormac McCarthy (The Road) and Michael Chabon (The Yiddish Policeman's Union) are good examples of how "serious" authors tackle speculative fiction. (Chabon's is also a good example of a mystery set in an alternative-history universe).

BTW: I don't know what you consider vulgar, but if you haven't read William Gibson's Neuromancer or Burning Chrome, or Neal Stephenson's Snow Crash, you've missed the foundations of cyberpunk.

Once you're done with this, then you can start looking at how mysteries can co-exist with a fantastical world. Some possibilities:

Walter Mosely, Futureland. Noirish excursions into a dystopian future by Easy Rawlins' creator.

J.D. Robb's ...in Death series. Romantic suspense; Naked in Death is the first. A female NYPD detective in 2058 hunts down murderers and her brooding antihero flame.

Len Deighton's SS-GB and Robert Harris' Fatherland. Complimentary detective stories set in similar alternative-history worlds, both hinging on a German victory in WWII.

Asimov's The Caves of Steel. You may have read this if Asimov is your fave; a human detective hunts murderers with a robot partner.

Eric Garcia, Anonymous Rex. Tongue-in-cheek sendup of noir detectives in a world in which dinosaurs didn't die out. Yes, there is a mystery here.

Some other lists:
IO9: http://io9.com/5526900/top-10-greatest-science-fiction-detective-novels-of-all-time

Akron-Summit County Public Library list of SF/F detective series: http://www.ascpl.lib.oh.us/internetresources/pop/favfiction/sfdetective.pdf

A similar but not overlapping list from Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_fictional_science_fiction_and_fantasy_detectives

NPR's list of Top 100 SF/F books: http://www.npr.org/2011/08/11/139085843/your-picks-top-100-science-fiction-fantasy-books

Good luck!
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Inner Prop

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Re: Science Fiction Mystery
« Reply #5 on: November 13, 2011, 08:54:22 AM »

No, you misunderstand me.  I know what sort of SciFi I want to WRITE, I am just more vague about what I want to READ.

I have read a lot of SciFi and continue to.  I've read everyone on you classics list and I have read Asimov's robot series.  I have read Fatherland and enjoyed it, but that's not SF. 

I have not read any Cyberpunk novels per se (unless you count Feed) but I didn't like the short stories I have read.  I have tried to slog through Stephenson's Cryptnomicon and there are parts I liked very much, but it was just too much for me.  If Snow Crash is anything like that then I'm going to steer clear

I know there are "mysteries" in a lot of SF.  For instance, Bova's Saturn has several mysteries in it, what are the living things in the rings, why did the probe not respond on Titan etc.  That's not what I'm looking for.

What I'm looking for is a Mystery in a SF book, not mystery in a SF book.  I'm also looking for something more recent than the 1950s since writing styles have changed.  I want to study the current writing style in such a book.

I know WHAT I want to write, I'm just looking for HOW to write it so that it is acceptable to modern audiences (and publishers).
« Last Edit: November 13, 2011, 09:06:01 AM by Inner Prop »
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