Saturday 20 March 2021

Speculative or progressive Noir recommendations

“If you’re still in need/of something to read…”

A few weeks ago we ran a round table discussion on Progressive Speculative Noir, which was more focussed on issues, tropes and definitions than recommendations, per se. Today, a few friends join us with some suggested reading or viewing to get you thinking about the possibilities of Noir that push the boundaries, either of social mores or genre (and ideally both). We’d love to hear your suggestions as well!

Mame Bougouma Diene

  • Gabino Iglesias:
    • Zero Saints
    • Coyote Songs
  • Nikhil Singh:
    • Club Ded


  • I feel like Ernest Hogan's High Aztech has some noir tropes, but pushes the envelope in probably every direction at once, so is almost unrecognisable by the end…
  • I recommend Rosa Montero’s Tears in Rain, which subverts speculative Noir in the most blunt way possible, by pastiching and upsetting the sexist/racist underpinnings of Bladerunner.
  • R.S.A. Garcia’s Lex Talionis is a SF/mystery that has heavy Noir influences

Benjanun Sriduangkaew

Neither is speculative but I'd call both progressive:

  • Love Kills Twice by Rien Gray
  • The Blue Place by Nicola Griffith

Valeria Vitale

We’ve discussed most of these already, but they’re really the best place to start:

  • Elisabeth Sanxay Holding’s The Blank Wall
  • Sarah Paretski's series of novels featuring V.I. Warshawski
  • Walter Mosley’s Devil in a Blue Dress and the rest of the Easy Rawlins series
  • Lauen Beukes’s Zoo City

M. Bennardo

I can't quite tick all the boxes with these... but I would recommend the following as noir-ish (but not speculative) books that have a non-typical point of view that made me think about crime fiction differently.

  • The Blank Wall by Elisabeth Sanxay Holding
  • Innocence, or Murder on Steep Street by Heda Kovály
  • The Street by Ann Petry (not usually classed as noir, but it hits a lot of the tropes)

Fabio Fernandes

  • The Golden, Lucius Shepard. It's Gothic Noir—a whodunit, actually, but with a vampire detective in the late 1800s, complete with a femme fatale of sorts (but who's far from being a damsel in distress, on the contrary; she's a vampire of noble ancestry and very much in control of things).
  • Sandman Slim. Supernatural noir with sharp, witty and funny dialogue. The protagonist is a (not very) beautiful loser, and there are no femme fatales: all the women there are fierce and he respects and admires them a lot

If you would like to add any suggestions or speculative or progressive Noir (stories, novels, films, other) to this list, please use the comments below. We’d love to hear from you!

If you would like to create more progressive speculative Noir to redress the shortage of such work, please consider submitting to our Call for Submissions for TFF-Noir.


wintersweet said...

I'd recommend The Imaginary Corpse by Tyler Hayes.

William Squirrell said...

I think Chris Brown's Tropic of Kansas books are very Noirish, classically so even, and aggressively preoccupied with environmental issues and the legal underpinnings of capitalism and colonialism. Rule of Capture is even named after the object of that novel's critique.

Words and Guitar said...

Found this article via a BookRiot newsletter.

Anyway, one that might fit what you're looking for is The Water Knife by Paolo Bacigalupi.