by Charlie Cottrell
Welcome to the genre I call speculative noir. Speculative fiction is material that deals with near-future tech and has a science-fiction vibe to it. Noir, of course, refers to the hard-boiled detective fiction of guys like Dashiel Hammett and Raymond Chandler, or movies like The Maltese Falcon and Touch of Evil. Both genres have their fair share of conventions – fancy near-future tech that seems just out of reach with today’s capabilities but is still within the realm of reason, bio-engineering, and a society that’s very close to our own with slightly fancier cellphones are all hallmarks of the speculative fiction genre. Of course, hard-boiled detective fiction, noir, features grizzled private eyes with drinking problems and authority issues, dames with legs that don’t quit, and Macguffins and Dinguses and whatnot.
The fun thing about mashing up two genres like this is that you get to play with those conventions, turn them on their head and try new, bizarre things. Take, for instance, my new novel, The Invisible Crown. The protagonist, Eddie Hazzard, is a typical down-on-his-luck private eye who takes a case and ends up in way over his head. As he navigates a city full of gangsters and corrupt businessmen, he unravels a mystery involving the city of Arcadia’s notorious crime boss, the Boss, and interacts with guys with bionic eyes, intelligent apes in suits, and a head in a jar with an affinity for pasta. Blending the typical hard-boiled detective narrative with lots of weird tech and weirder characters makes for a fun twist on the conventions.
Genres are convenient in that they give us a set of expectations for a given story. But the fun of mashing up different genres is getting to take those expectations and subvert them.
Charlie's Debut Speculative Fiction: The Invisible Crown
Meet Eddie Hazzard: he’s tenacious, a certain kind of clever, and usually drunk. When a beautiful woman comes into his office and asks him to find her husband, Eddie takes the case because the alternative is having his creditors show up at his door and do terrible things to his limbs. But the case takes a series of bizarre turns, getting Eddie caught up in a tangled web of reluctant cops, sketchy businessmen, and shadowy crime bosses. The deeper he gets, the worse things look. Will Eddie solve the case? Will he save the day? Most importantly, will he get paid?
The Invisible Crown is the first full-length novel of a series featuring Detective Hazzard and the bizarre, bewildering array of tough mobsters, genetically-modified creeps, and ruthless scumbags who inhabit the city of Arcadia.
Available Here: Amazon