Illustration for article titled Raymond Chandler Mocked Science Fiction, But He Also Inspired It

Raymond Chandler was one of the greatest writers to come out of pulp fiction, but he also had some snobbish tendencies of his own. Notably, in a 1953 letter to his agent, he makes fun of science fiction for being kind of ridiculous. But Chandler also inspired tons of science-fiction writers.

In the letter from 1953, Chandler writes:

Did you ever read what they call Science Fiction? It’s a scream. It’s written like this: ‘I checked out with K19 on Adabaran III, and stepped out through the crummaliote hatch on my 22 Model Sirus Hardtop. I cocked the timeprojector in secondary and waded through the bright blue manda grass... I had exactly four seconds to hot up the disintegrator and Google had told me it wasn’t enough.’


There’s more, but you get the gist (and yes, apparently invents the term Google, to describe a thing that you check for information.)

Since then, tons of science fiction writers have written detective stories, including Asimov’s robot detective tales and Jonathan Lethem’s Gun, With Occasional Music. But now, Adam Christopher is taking it one step further, actually paying homage to Chandler (and giving some shout-outs to Chandler’s spoof of science fiction) in his new novel Made to Kill.

Talking to Lithub, Christopher says he was “amused” by “the way Chandler hated science fiction,” and he wanted his novel, set in an alternate 1965 with robots, to be the science fiction book Chandler might have written. Christopher also knowingly inverts Asimov’s three laws of robotics, with a robot protagonist who was programmed to be an assassin.


Lithub’s whole article about Chandler’s enduring influence on science fiction—in spite of his scorn for it—is worth reading.

Contact the author at and follow her on Twitter @CharlieJane


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