Rich Handley Author and Editor

Throwbook Thursday—The Cyberpunk Nexus: Exploring the Blade Runner Universe

I’ve been highlighting books I’ve written, edited, or contributed to, and now it’s “Throwbook Thursday” once again. But please do not throw books. It can hurt someone and damage the books.

A few years back, Lou Tambone and Joe Bongiorno co-edited The Cyberpunk Nexus: Exploring the Blade Runner Universe, a Sequart anthology that dissected Ridley Scott’s classic movie, as well as the novel it adapted (Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?), the sequel film (Blade Runner 2049), the spinoff novels and comics, and more. In a nutshell, The Cyberpunk Nexus: Exploring the Blade Runner Universe examined the entire Blade Runner saga, and it was an incredibly impressive achievement.

The book features a foreword by Paul M. Sammon (Future Noir: The Making of Blade Runner), gorgeous cover art by Matt Busch, and essays by me, Lou, and Joe, along with Mike Beidler, Jean-Francois Boivin, R. Lee Brown, Robert Meyer Burnett, Nathan Butler, Bryce Carlson, Julian Darius, Ian Dawe, Joseph Dilworth Jr., Mario A. Escamilla, Kelli Fitzpatrick, Sabrina Fried, Zaki Hasan, Stephen Slaughter Head, Tom Lennon, Bentley Ousley, Nelson W. Pyles, Brian Robinson, Paul J. Salamoff, Leah Schade, and Timothy Shanahan. Although I’m not nearly as well-versed in Blade Runner lore as Lou is (I love the original film and have read Dick’s novel, but that’s about it), I decided to take an out-of-the box approach by writing about something else entirely: Red Dwarf.

The British science-fiction comedy has long been one of my favorite TV shows, and it has a rather unique connection to Blade Runner, in that the film inspired the 2009 miniseries Red Dwarf: Back to Earth. The miniseries’ premise? Well… pretty much the same as the premise of Blade Runner: Four desperate, disreputable individuals return to Earth from a mining locale in the stars to seek out their bespectacled human creator and ask him to extend their limited lifespan so they can prevent the impending deaths to which they have been fated. The creator cannot grant this wish, however, and so the four hapless, helpless travelers are hunted down and killed.

If you’re a fan of Blade Runner, the above should obviously sound very familiar, because the homage was entirely intentional. The miniseries was written and directed by Red Dwarf co-creator Doug Naylor, and it served as the show’s ninth season (to date, there have been 12 seasons and a full-length film), while providing a reverent pastiche of Ridley Scott’s masterpiece. But it also offered a metafictional commentary on Naylor’s frustration at Red Dwarf‘s cancelation years ago and his determination, a decade later, to bring the show back from oblivion. In no small measure, Blade Runner shaped Red Dwarf‘s long-awaited return to TV, which made it a great topic to discuss in this anthology.

My essay was titled “I Want More Life, Smegger: How Blade Runner Influenced Red Dwarf‘s Revival,” and I had a blast writing it, just as I had a blast reading what all the other essayists had to say. You can read more about the book at Sequart’s landing page, and you can order it from Amazon and other booksellers.

One thought on “Throwbook Thursday—The Cyberpunk Nexus: Exploring the Blade Runner Universe

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

© Copyright 2022 Rich Handley