Category: Hard Science Fiction/ Mystery
Audience: Suitable for teens and up. No sex and minimal implied violence.
In Matters Arising from the Identification of the Body by New Zealand-born author Simon Petrie, hard science fiction intersects with another of my favourite genres, crime fiction. In a mining colony on Titan, Saturn’s moon, a young woman, Tanja Morgenstein, walks out of an air lock and takes off her helmet. Psychologist Guerline Scarfe is simply doing her job, as required by the local law, in investigating the reasons for Tanja’s suicide. She is not, at first, overly surprised by Tanja’s wealthy parents’ resistance—they are, after all, in shock over losing their daughter—but her concern grows as she probes deeper and their hostility turns to threats.
Throw in a dead brother, a traumatised boyfriend, pressure from Gureline’s boss to drop the investigation, and a nail-biting nighttime flight across Titan’s frozen landscape, and you have a classic detective story with a savage, high-tech twist. It’s no surprise to me that the story won this year’s Sir Julius Vogel award for Best Novella. I look forward to reading more about Guerline Scarfe.