What are the Best Science Fiction Mysteries?

September 14th, 2012

I’ve read and watched some good ones, but I’m sure I don’t know this interesting subfield as well as I should to be able to come up with a comprehensive list.  Let me list some that I think are good to great, and solicit input from others about some that I may have missed.  I’ve got a science-oriented mystery short story I’ve promised for an anthology and so have been thinking about this topic.  Now, a lot of good books have “mysteries” scattered throughout them to pull the reader forward, but I’m thinking of “Whodunnit” kind of stories that feature formal detectives or folks thrust into that role tackling puzzles so profound they’d fit into the mystery genre.

Here’s some examples from my own reading that I really enjoyed and can recommend:

Altered Carbon by Robert Morgan.  Awesome cyberpunk detective noir.

The Prestige by Christopher Priest.  I confess I’ve only seen the movie, but I imagine the book is as good.  Just how are they pulling off their tricks?

Marooned in Realtime by Vernor Vinge.  A murder mystery with a science fictional bent.

Caves of Steel by Issac Asimov.  Classic murder mystery…with robots!  The sequels were also mysteries if I recall, but it’s been a long time since I’ve read these.

The Demolished Man by Alfred Bester. Yet another murder mystery…with telepaths!

Kiln People by David Brin.  Another science fiction detective story…with golems!

When Gravity Fails by George Alec Effinger was really super, cyberpunk with a middle eastern spin.

While Blade Runner sort of fits in, it’s more of a violent missing persons story to me.  We know who Deckard is looking for.  I recall Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep by Philip K. Dick, the novel Blade Runner was based on, as being a pretty straightforward science fiction detective story, however.  It’s in.

Let me keep in Watchmen as well, even though it’s comic books.  There’s a murder mystery…with superheroes!

Well, that’s nine that I think are pretty great!  I have a few others I can’t quite remember the titles of, so I guess that they’re not that great, and a few I’ve heard of but not read myself.

Hmmm…after working on my list for a while I found this one, with a lot of overlap.  Maybe I’m not missing as many classics as I think I am?  Any other really good ones to add?



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