PrintE-mail Written by Ian White

Plenty of books have already been written about ‘Blade Runner’, but for some reason authors and publishers still can’t resist taking the film out for one more trip around the block. In this particular case, it’s a trip that’s short and sweet but well worth taking, even though there’s very little here (if anything) that most die-hard ‘Blade Runner’ aficionados won’t have come across before.

Beginning with the questions ‘What is Genre? What is Science Fiction?’, author Sean Redmond quickly makes the case that ‘Blade Runner’ isn’t just iconic vintage SF, it is also stylistically a classic detective noir. Even if, for many of us, this is very much a back-to-basics ‘Blade Runner 101’ analysis, it’s still interesting to read what Redmond has to say about it, and his POV becomes more compelling in the following chapters: he investigates and dissects the narrative of ‘Blade Runner’ from various angles, discusses the film’s cyberpunk urbanism, its depiction of race, gender and social class, and gives some fascinating insight into ‘Blade Runner’s postmodern aesthetic.

The second half of the book is largely dedicated to more practical matters – there’s a brief but tantalising overview of ‘Blade Runner’s various production problems which will send most neophytes scuttling off in search of Paul M. Sammon’s classic ‘Future Noir: The Making of Blade Runner’ to find out more, a chapter about its initial reception by audiences, and a textual analysis of one of the film’s earliest scenes (I won’t spoil the surprise, but Redmond has chosen well).

Finally, the concluding ‘What Does it Mean to be Human’ wraps everything up with a nod towards 2007’s Final Cut and some judicious thoughts about how ‘Blade Runner’ still offers hope for a world that has become substantially darker since its original release.

‘Blade Runner’ is one of the first in a brand new series of science fiction film and tv studies published by Auteur under the umbrella title ‘Constellations’. It’s concisely written in a style that, although scholarly, is engrossing and very easy to read. There are also plenty of black and white photographs, but they’re far too small and washed-out to make an impact, which is the only area in which the book really falls down. Well-read fans of ‘Blade Runner’ may find the slim volume too light-weight (literally) but if you’re a completist, or you’re fresh to the ‘Blade Runner’ universe, you will definitely want this in your collection.


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