This essay suggests that hard-boiled crime fiction in the United States has developed the kind of “deep infrastructural ethic” that John Durham Peters says is present in much modern thought. The essay attempts to illuminate the genre’s infrastructural ethic and its corresponding affordance for environmental critique by tracing its expressions through a sample of significant texts in the hard-boiled and noir canons, and by concluding with a sustained reading of Paolo Bacigalupi’s The Water Knife (2015). These readings demonstrate that hard-boiled narratives enable readers to perceive the ways in which extractivist infrastructures are frequently built upon and facilitate the exploitation of both human and environmental resources. Hard-boiled texts help readers see capitalism’s extractivist infrastructure as a type of material and intellectual entrapment that ultimately undermines the common good and the planetary commons. Further, this essay argues that hard-boiled crime fiction attends to what AbdouMaliq Simone calls “infrastructures of relationality” and thus points a way out of the material and metaphysical entrapments of an extractivist economy’s infrastructure. The infrastructures of relationality that emerge in a world in which climate crises have broken down the infrastructures of capitalism provide a platform from which individuals can practice a mode of collective thinking and being that offers an alternative to the alienation upon which extractivism depends. In short, the hard-boiled genre is not only one of the Anthropocene’s earliest cultural responders but is also a vital genre for making sense of our contemporary situation in a deeper stage of the Anthropocene.

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