At last weekend's San Diego State University Writers' Conference, I was surprised to find that several literary agents were not interested in my mystery novel because my protagonist is an artificial intelligence being. (Some of the agents who handle mysteries were interested.) I was surprised in part because Donna Andrews' mysteries involving the 'Artificial Intelligence Personality' Turing Hopper have been published by Berkeley Crime. I am curious how readers of mysteries feel about a murder mystery where the protagonist is an AI. Would you read such a book?
I wouldn't worry about the literary agents who aren't interested in your novel; it's the one who might be interested who you need to find.
In terms of readers, yes, you might have to cross over to the sci-fi/fantasy market. But you don't need to worry about that right now.
Speaking of sci-fi and the detective genre, have you all read British author Richard K. Morgan? ALTERED CARBON and the rest of his Takashi Kovacs series, set in the dystopian future, are quite wonderful. I'd highly recommend that series to thriller lovers.
Surprised to hear that you weren't more embraced at the SDSU conference -- San Diego, especially UC San Diego, promotes creativity in fantasy/sci-fi genre.
I don't know if you have any connection to Mysterious Galaxy Bookstore in SD, but I'd cultivate a friendship with one of the booksellers there and see if they might be willing to take a read of your work-in-progress and give you some suggestions.
From your description of your novel, it's actually hard to determine whether it would be mystery or sf.
I read and enjoy a lot of different things. I do not box myself into a select genre because of certain expectations per se. I might read a book or story along the lines of something you have described here. Now, what I will say is that your own description of your work has to be better. Presentation means a lot and right now you're not presenting properly to appeal to either my sf interests and my mystery side... I would suggest that any issue with your novel efforts might be more in your presentation and pitch, not the actual content. It also seems you're trying to sell more of the gimmick than story.
SF writers I enjoy reading:
Dick, Gibson, Simmons
Just my .02
JD Robb (Nora Roberts) has been doing a mystery series set in the future (so S/F) for some years now and enjoyed a lot of sucess.
Of course, she is Nora Roberts but even she started somewhere. Go for it.
Human beings are still more interesting to me than robots. Having said that, though, I have to admit that the subject of AI is a fascinating one in so many ways, and fiction does love to play with it. Data was my favorite Star Trek character---I adored him, because he tried so hard to be a perfect human, and had in fact become human without actually realizing it. It's just that if I'm looking for a mystery to read, I might want a real human detective. But wait....is any fictional detective really "real?" :)
The contemporary detective (fictional AND real) now relies very heavily indeed on the computer: to analyze all sorts of data, from profiling to forensics. There's always someone clicking away at a computer to map out a killer's territory, or run a check on similar crimes.
So, if it's well done, why couldn't an AI detective be a break-through sort of thing? One might even argue that Sherlock Holmes, with his lack of social skills and chilly objectivity, could almost be said to be a precursor to an "AI" character!, as much as he was to forensics in detective fiction.
And the much-lauded Lisbeth Salander was pretty damn close to an AI character---superhuman in so many ways, including awesome brain power and physical prowess, the ability to survive, but with ZERO social/relationship skills. You just need the right agent.Readers want suspense, and a way to "get into" the mind of a killer...maybe the total objectivity of an AI would be refreshing. If the writing is really good....I'd read it!