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Sunday, March 11, 2018

Hard Sun: Hard Crime/Soft Science Fiction

What better day to review Hard Sun, binge-watchable in America on Hulu since just a few days ago, than the day in which Daylight Savings Time (which I like far better than Eastern standard) takes effect.

Ok, maybe that's bit of stretch.  But there's more than a bit of a stretch in Hard Sun, powerful, searing, and superb as it is.  It's billed as a crime and science fiction story.  And it almost isn't science fiction at all.

The premise is two British police detectives learn that the Earth and humanity have only five years left of life - because the sun is going nova, or some such.  This serves as a harrowing backdrop for a complex and pounding and altogether top-notch police procedural, as only Neil Cross (Luther and MI-5) can do it.  There are twists and turns in both the criminals the two police chase, as well as in their personal lives, not to mention their partnership relationship (Jim Sturgess as DCI Hicks and Agyness Deyn as DC Renko are impressively tough and vulnerable in different ways).  In this regard, Hard Sun is one of the best police dramas I've ever seen - in the top ten, for sure.

But the science fiction part is frustrating.  It's an interesting premise, to say the least - police hunting all manner of heinous criminals, always knowing that the world is going to end in five years.  Some of these criminals are indeed motivated by that knowledge - because it has become public, though denounced as a conspiracy - and MI5 (the British FBI) play a significant role in this action, too.  They know about the hard sun that's coming, and apparently don't want the world to know about it too soon.

Now were this proper science fiction, there would scientists and people trying to do something to stop the nova, or build a fleet of ships to take whatever number of humanity off this planet to possible safety.  But Hard Sun is not proper science fiction.

And though there's a payoff at the end - which I won't tell you - it uses science fiction in a way I haven't ever seen it used before.  Being a fan and author of police procedural hybrids - my favorite as a fan would be Isaac Asimov's The Naked Sun, and as an author see my novel The Silk Code - I'm not at all sure that I like to see science fiction used this way.

But as a devotee of police procedurals on television, I can say that Hard Sun is one rough and exciting ride, and on that score I highly recommend it.

"As a genre-bending blend of police procedural and science fiction, The Silk Code delivers on its promises." -- Gerald Jonas, The New York Times Book Review
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