8 Great Novels that Mix Speculative Fiction and Noir

8 Great Novels that Mix Speculative Fiction and NoirIn one sense, noir is rooted in a very specific time and place. Noir sprang out of the hardboiled detective fiction that emerged in the United States around the Great Depression as the veneer was chipping off the mythic American dream. Prohibition had empowered organized crime, political corruption was rampant, and the gap between the poor in bread lines and the robber barons in gilded palaces was a growing chasm. The cynical antiheros of writers like Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett spoke to that specific time.

In another sense, noir is timeless and adaptable to any place real or imagined. Noir films and novels have been made in countries all over the world, and the style can be mashed up with almost any other genre. When I wrote my novel The Body Scout, I knew that even though it was a science fiction novel set in a futuristic baseball league a noir style would suit the material perfectly. Corruption, darkness, and mystery never seem to go away. So for this list, I’m going to talk about some fantastic noir novels that happen to take place in science fiction and fantasy worlds.


About the Author

Lincoln Michel is the author of the story collection Upright Beasts (Coffee House Press, 2015), which was named a best book of the year by Buzzfeed and reviewed in the New York Times; Vanity Fair; O, The Oprah Magazine; Tor.com and elsewhere. His fiction and poetry appear in The Paris Review, Granta, Tin House, Strange Horizons, Vice’s Motherboard, and the Pushcart Prize anthology. His essays and criticism have been published by The New York Times, GQ, Rolling Stone, and The Guardian. He is the former editor-in-chief of Electric Literature. He is the co-editor of the science fiction anthology Gigantic Worlds (Gigantic Books 2015), the flash noir anthology Tiny Crimes (Catapult, 2018), and the forthcoming horror anthology Tiny Nightmares (Catapult, 2020). He teaches speculative fiction writing in the MFA programs at Sarah Lawrence College and Columbia University.