Murder in orbit seems to be the latest hot literary trend. Police procedurals on alien planets, tense mysteries on far-future space stations, spy thrillers in the cold vacuum of space… that’s a whole lot of genre blending. Just in the last few months I’ve written about a cargohold full of futuristic noir, including:
The Man in the Tree by Sage Walker – a police procedural murder mystery on a generation starship, by the author of the Locus Award-winning Whiteout
Outer Earth by Rob Boffard — A thriller set on an overcrowded space station, from the author of the upcoming Adrift
The Freeze-Frame Revolution by Peter Watts — Death, disappearances, and secret revolution on a far-future construction ship
Waypoint Kangaroo by Curtis C. Chen — A covert agent in the near-future forced to go on vacation to Mars
The Chaos of Luck by Catherine Cerveny — A Brazilian tarot card reader and a Russian crime lord race to stop a conspiracy on Mars
Blood Orbit by K.R. Richardson — The murder here isn’t really in orbit (it’s on an alien planet) but this one gets points for being extra-noir
The Central Corps trilogy by Elizabeth Bonesteel — SFF World called the opening novel, The Cold Between, a “taut, space-based science fiction mystery”
I heartily approve of this new trend towards SF noir. I’m not the only one to have noticed — the Murder & Mayhem blog did a great piece on Rusted Chrome: 14 Sci-Fi Noir Books for Blade Runner Fans, just as an example.
The reason I bring this up today is because I recently bought another example in the same category, and it looks very promising indeed. Chris Brookmyre is a Scottish writer with some 20 mystery and thriller novels under his belt, including Dead Girl Walking and Where the Bodies Are Buried. His first SF novel, Places in the Darkness, is a tale of mystery and murder on a vast orbital platform.
Here’s the description.
Hundreds of miles above Earth, the space station Ciudad de Cielo — The City in the Sky — is a beacon of hope for humanity’s expansion into the stars. But not everyone aboard shares such noble ideals.
Bootlegging, booze, and prostitution form a lucrative underground economy for rival gangs, which the authorities are happy to turn a blind eye to until a disassembled corpse is found dancing in the micro-gravity.
In charge of the murder investigation is Nikki “Fix” Freeman, who is not thrilled to have Alice Blake, an uptight government goody-two-shoes, riding shotgun. As the bodies pile up, and the partners are forced to question their own memories, Nikki and Alice begin to realize that gang warfare may not be the only cause for the violence.
Places in the Darkness was published by Orbit on November 9, 2017. It is 403 pages, priced at $15.99 in trade paperback and $9.99 for the digital edition. The cover is by Steve Stone. Read the prologue and the first chapter at the Orbit website.
See all our coverage of the best new SF and Fantasy here.