Your Novel May Be Sci Fi Noir If…

Here are five reasons to suspect that your science fiction novel may be Sci Fi Noir:

  1. The action is described in the first person by a lone wolf protagonist on a quest to find a truth somebody wants hidden. Sure, Mike Hammer had Velda and Pat Chambers but ultimately it’s our hero’s quest so the resolution rests on their shoulders alone.
  2. You protagonist gets beaten to a pulp regularly. This is a great staple in noir, our hero can usually handle themselves in a fight but occasionally they get overwhelmed and end up bruised, unconscious, shot, tied to a chair or all four. Noir detectives don’t come much tougher than Humphrey Bogart and even he frequently found himself bruised, unconscious, shot and tied to a chair and still able to wise-crack his way out of it.
  3. There’s a McGuffin in your plot. A McGuffin is an object or goal that your main character desperately wants and which is also sought by his enemies. The Maltese Falcon is the classic example in Noir as is the glowing box in Kiss Me Deadly, to which Tarantino played tribute in Pulp Fiction. In The Nostradamus Code it’s a computer file containing information that could ruin the career of a world leader.
  4. Femme Fatale or Homme Fatale. A lot of fiction includes love interests but Noir fiction includes a love interest whose loyalties and motives are not entirely obvious from the outset. I love you but you may be in league with my enemy. The relationship is usually dangerous and confusing but irresistible. Vivian Rutledge in The Big Sleep is an example of a femme fatale (beautifully played by Lauren Bacall in the original film version).
  5. Your novel takes place in a gritty urban setting. Noir hardly ever takes place in the countryside in the summertime. Not even in the city when it’s summer. It has to be a city (preferably overcrowded and in a state of decay for Sci Fi Noir) and cold enough to wear a coat. The Nostradamus Code is set in New Stockton which is a city on a distant human outpost which has suffered a major economic collapse. The buildings are so tall that they block out the sunlight meaning that it’s usually dark and cold enough to wear a coat at all times.

Public Eye on Truth

Imagine a world where economic collapse has placed the general public into two classes: extremely rich and devastatingly poor. Where journalists are under siege but remain our only hope of getting to the truth. A world where a power-crazed megalomaniac tries to increase his influence by using wild ideology and fear of unknown threats.

It may seem like a story torn from the pages of today’s newspapers but it’s the basis for my young adult Sci Fi novel, The Nostradamus Code, set millennia into the future on a far distant human outpost. Written before a certain president’s unforeseen rise to power and before the term “fake news” permeated our consciousness like a hot meme it features a journalist as its hero. When I began writing the novel I feared for the future of journalism. I was afraid that the general public had grown tired of forking out money on newspaper subscriptions in favor of getting news snippets and sound bites from sexier sources than legitimate news sites. I wanted to remind readers of the important work journalists do in asking the difficult questions, not taking everything at face value and digging deep for the truth in our society. In a nod to the noir-ish elements of the story I call the journalists “Public Eyes” because it’s their job to bring corruption, crime and political scandal to the eye of the public.

Whatever fear I had for the future of journalism when I began writing the novel took a distant backseat to the horror of seeing the relentless onslaught it has had to face over the past year from forces on the right who are bent on delegitimizing mainstream news sources with their decries of “fake news!”.  It seems a derisible and infantile response from a president faced with an uncomfortable truth but if enough people jump on the “fake news” bandwagon then eventually the public trust in mainstream media will become eroded to the point where the people in power can do what they want and declare any uncovering of their wrongdoing as fake and distract us with some fabricated non-issue. As Thomas Pynchon said, “If they can get you asking the wrong questions, they don’t have to worry about the answers.”

I don’t ask you to buy a copy of The Nostradamus Code but please keep buying newspapers and help journalists continue to focus the public eye on the truth.


(First appeared as a guest blog on the Logikal Blog)

The Nostradamus Code – Update

Got word that The Nostradamus Code will be released later this month.

The cover landed in my inbox today and it looks great. I will share it soon.

Meanwhile here’s a picture I took of the New York skyline that looks like it could be from The Nostradamus Code.


Tech Update

So, with the realization that flying cars may never be a reality sinking in I was pinning my hopes on the self-drive car but as soon as you read one article that states that they’re here: Driverless Uber

you see another article that says that they’re still years away: Driverless Cars Years Away

And if we’re still years away from the self-drive cars how far away from trips to Mars? This article is making me wonder if I should’ve got cancellation insurance on my one-way ticket to the red planet: Mars Mission