Philosophies of Crime Fiction

Deleuze: The Philosophy of Crime Novels
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These books showcase authors telling great stories about horrifying or seemingly mundane events. The result, according to philosopher A. Danielewski Pirsig Download Irvin D. Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison A nameless black narrator describes his journey from a black community in the American South to New York City and the fight for equal rights in this winner of the U.

National Book Award. It was adapted into the Academy Award-nominated film by Stanley Kubrick. A graphic novel? A murder mystery wrapped in philosophy? A parable about geometric shapes? These books will give your brain a workout in more ways than one. Watchmen by Alan Moore Heinlein The U. Le Guin This novel about a physicist who travels to the utopian planet Anarres to challenge the isolation and hatred of his home planet was named Best Novel at the Nebula Awards, the Hugo Awards and the Locus Awards.

Abbott Plot in crime fiction contains three essential elements: pathos, peripeteia change in the plot , discovery. Pathos consists of an act that leads to destruction or agony such as death, injury and the like. Pathos should be used to serve the consequences of the criminal act, and not to create a thrill or disguise a weakness in the plot.

Peripeteia may affect a single protagonist or all of them: a rich person can be turned into a corpse by murder, or a wrongfully accused person may be saved from death row as a result of exonerating evidence. Such plot twists make for an action-filled story and evoke emotions such as fear and pity in the reader.

Ideally, fateful incidents should result from a mistake by the person concerned rather than by chance. For example, a detective might himself create problems due to an erroneous observation or hastily drawn conclusions. Or an innocent suspect brings himself into a precarious situation because he has suppressed evidence, and so on. Discoveries lead to the solving of the crime and generally relate to the perpetrator's identity or the sequence of events.

Discoveries made by the author himself are particularly questionable in detective stories and are only considered when the perpetrator is known. Often, the discovery is made based on clues.

It is also common for discoveries to be made based on memories; for instance, when the detective remembers a previous technical process similar to the one used to commit this particular murder. The most common method is the discovery by conclusion, where, based on crime scene evidence and the time of the crime, only one person fitting all criteria could possibly be the murderer. Aristotle is also aware of the discovery by misconception, which Sayers interprets as a discovery by bluff.

A bluffing detective may, for instance, declare a random weapon to be the murder weapon in order to lead the murderer to incriminate himself. The entire art of the detective novel is characterised by Aristotle with the term paralogism, false conclusion. Thus the reader of a story with two actions easily succumbs to the false conclusion that, if one of them is true, then the second, related one must also be true, even though it never happened.

A crime writer must master the art of deception. The reader must be led to believe that the criminal is innocent and an honourable character guilty; that a false alibi is true and a living person is dead, etc. The correct way to tell a detective story is to present the truth in such a way that the intelligent reader is led to create his own mesh of lies. It is unfair and therefore unacceptable for the author to lie to his readers. Sayers also demands a certain degree of realism when it comes to characterisation. She follows Aristotle only to a certain extent in his demand that the protagonists must be noble.

Sayers believes they must display a 'measure of human dignity' for the reader to take them seriously.

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Even the worst criminals must not be portrayed as pure monsters or caricatures of evil. According to Aristotle, characters must be reasonable, which Sayers interprets as meaning that they should act in a believable and not entirely improbable manner. According to some translators, Aristotle furthermore demands that characters are in line with their tradition. This, says Sayers, does not mean that they resemble traditional stereotypes, but that they are realistic.

Thus protagonists in crime stories should resemble in language and actions the men and women we are familiar with in our own time. For this reason, the plot should not be concerned with the discovery of a monstrously evil perpetrator, but rather an honourable but flawed person.

The more average-seeming the criminal, the more the reader will feel pity and fear when faced with his deed and the greater the surprise when he is revealed. Generally, the same applies to innocent suspects and the police; they should be characterised realistically. The most difficult Aristotelian rule to follow is that which deems that characters must be uniform from beginning to end.

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Even though the perpetrator's identity should surprise the reader, it should still be plausible. His identity must correspond to the traits and actions described beforehand. Any flaws in his characterisation would destroy the plot's plausibility and break the fair play rule.

Sayers concludes that Aristotle's Poetics contains fundamental truths for all forms of literary art and that it is the best guidebook for any up and coming crime writer. Every ambitious author of detective fiction should write in a way Aristotle would approve of.

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In a similar vein to Sayers, Auden compares classic detective stories with Greek tragedies based on Aristotle's poetics. The detective story also includes ignorance, discovery and peripeteia. Innocents appear guilty while the guilty appear innocent until the truth is revealed. One of the men, codenamed Wittgenstein, finds out about his diagnosis — so he hacks into the confidential database and erases his information, then goes around killing the other men on the list.

And the serial killer begins to see his murders through the lens of Wittgenstein's philosophy. It's up to police officer Isadora "Jake" Jakowicz to find out who Wittgenstein is and stop his murder spree. Like I said, I loved it. This series, which started with the short story "The Retrieval Artist," takes place in the future, when the Moon has been colonized for centuries and humans are in contact with lots of alien races.

And when humans inadvertently break the laws of alien cultures, they have to face those aliens' punishments — no matter how bizarre or severe. And people sometimes try to disappear, or change their identities, to avoid this harsh alien justice. Detective Miles Flint and his partner Noelle DeRicci wind up solving murders whose solution is often startling — like the cleaning robots were reprogrammed to rearrange the crime scene, or the murder wasn't what it first appears — and at the same time, avoid offending the strange customs of the alien races living amongst us.

It's the 22nd century, and the Arab world has advanced far beyond the West, into a cyberpunk marvel. Marid Audran is a cocky, wisecracking hero who's forced to solve a series of brutal murders — the killer is using "moddies" to download the personalities and skills of some of history's most bestial serial killers into his brain, making him more than a match for the non-upgraded Audran. Audran finally discovers and overpowers the killer, but his problems are just beginning. Detective Dore Konstantin is called upon to investigate the murder of a young man inside an Artificial Reality chamber, and discovers that he died the exact same way inside the game as in reality.

Her investigations into AR worlds lead her into the VR gamescape of post-apocalyptic Noo Yawk Sitty, and she begins to discover that other people have died while wired into the game. The murders turn out to be part of something much more complex, and startling.

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Mack Megaton is a nearly indestructible robot, built by a scientist bent on world domination. But he's gained free will, and decided to give up the world-domination racket in favor of assimilating with society and driving a cab. So far so good — until his neighbors are kidnapped and he decides to find them. His quest takes him into the secrets of Empire City , aka Technotopia, and he confronts talking gorillas, mutant villains and robot thugs, eventually going on a rampage of destruction that might just save Empire City.

Another cyberpunk-esque noir future, in which people can be "shelved" and then later "resleeved" into new bodies.