Crime and Speculation

 I turned in my first round of edits on book four in the Gethsemane Brown series last week. I needed to reset and recharge after I hit “send” to my editor, so I did what many in need of a reality break do. I grabbed my smartphone and navigated to Netflix. Having been immersed in crime fiction, I browsed the streaming service’s myriad offerings for something different. I binge watched Season Two of “Queer Eye,” which reminded me that good people who love others exist. Then I started scrolling through Netflix’s speculative fiction (which I’m defining broadly as sci-fi, fantasy, horror, and paranormal) offerings to find titles to add to my queue. Turns out, “different” wasn’t that different after all. As I browsed Netflix this weekend, I noticed something about the movies that most interested me. While they were billed as speculative fiction, they all contained a strong crime element. Instead of being labeled sci-fi (or horror or paranormal) with a mystery, they could have been labeled crime fiction with a futuristic (or fantastical or paranormal) spin. “Altered Carbon,” “Bright,” “Ascension,” “Hotel Beau Sejour”—all involve a mystery that must be solved and/or a crime that drives the action. Movies “Alien Nation,” “Blade Runner,” and “Minority Report,” series “Twin Peaks” and “Scream,” and novel “The Space Merchants” are other works that combine crime with speculation. Barnes and Noble posted a couple of listicles on their blog about sci-fi crime novels. “5 Genre-Bending Science-Fictional Crime Novels” lists several sci-fi noir mysteries and “10 Fiendishly Clever Sci-Fi Locked Room Mysteries” lists some classic mysteries that just happen to take place on space stations and in space ships. Some crime writers, like John D. MacDonald and Chris Brookmyre, also wrote science fiction. It’s not surprising that crime blends well with speculative fiction. Mystery and intrigue are page-turners and speculative fiction is often set in mysterious worlds. Both genres often involve a protagonist trying to bring order to chaos or solve a puzzle. And the stakes in both genres are often high—life or death, good or evil. What are some of your favorite speculative crime novels and films?

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