Science Fiction Crime Stories


sf crime

I have long enjoyed the Science Fiction crime story. Perhaps my favorite one was written by Alfred Bester, “The Demolished Man”. How do you plan and commit a murder in a society that has telepathic mind readers working for the police? It’s an inverted detective story, from the criminal’s viewpoint.

George O. Smith also addressed the issue of telepathy and crime in his own way.

Probably the best argument that ever occurred for readers was the once between Isaac Asimov and John W. Campbell. Asimov thought that Science Fiction could be applied to any genre or type of novel. Campbell disagreed, saying the science fiction writer could invent “facts” in his imaginary future that the reader would not know. Asimov proved this point with “Caves of Steel” a murder mystery. Asimov went on to write a number of stories about Wendell Urth, some involving outrageous puns. This isn’t surprising from a man who belonged to a group devoted to Nero Wolfe mysteries.

Would you prefer murder mixed with magic? Then look up Lord Darcy stories, created by Randall Garrett. There ten short stories and a couple of novels with this character for you to enjoy.

I apologize right now for not naming your favorite, but I want to right a blog not a novel on the topic. There are just so many out there.

However, what got me started was the whining of a mystery writer. He was complaining that modern technology had ruined the mystery story. DNA testing made proving the killer absolute. Cell phones gave everyone a chance to call the police. Cameras and facial recognition software meant a person’s movement could be tracked absolutely.

Crime stories aren’t about technology but about human passion. Science fiction isn’t about how a society exists but what the possibilities there can be. Imagine a world where the police have drones to patrol and can incapacitate criminals with a ‘stunner’. Wait, that will probably be real before the story is published.

Philip K. Dick and William Gibson pointed the way for us. They invented new crimes for their SF stories. I’m going to go and invent some new crime, one with a twist and a bit of a spin.