The Cyberpunk Nexus: Exploring the Blade Runner Universe

cyber1One of the infrequent pleasures of the pre-internet era was stumbling upon books that mentioned, even in passing, Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner– particularly back when it was the very definition of cult. As the film started to get a second life on home video and became better appreciated, some books dedicated to the film began to surface. One of the first and very best books dedicated to examining the film was Judith Kerman’s Retrofitting Blade Runner from 1991, and there have been several that followed over the years as the film gained in popularity; Paul Sammon’s Future Noir from 1996, or Will Brooker’s The Blade Runner Experience from 2005. Treasure-trove’s of information or heady brews of contentious opinion, for a fan of the film they are irresistible.

So now we can add another to the list: The Cyberpunk Nexus: Exploring the Blade Runner Universe, edited by Lou Tamone and Joe Bongiorno, which went into print last month. As its such a recent book, it includes essays about Dennis Villeneuve’s Blade Runner 2049 and, in a similar way to Brooker’s book, examines both the original 1982 film and its versions in some detail as well as all that followed it in various media. There is, for instance, a delightful appreciation of the original Marvel Comics adaptation that was my one way to relive the film back in the dark days of pre-VHS 1982, and, yes, accounts of the execrable K W Jeter sequels that were inflicted upon fans around 1995 when it was clear that Blade Runner still had some kind of future (even if it was so inept it was more depressing than anything in the movie). While much of the information contained is hardly new, there is some information new even to an old fan like me, and some canny observations.  The various espoused opinions and views are interesting, the writing very good and the wide collection of essays a pleasant reminder of the decades that passed since 1982, and all we’ve lived through to the miracle of BR2049. Its a bit like sitting in the pub or by a fireside with a few knowledgeable fans of Blade Runner and having a spirited conversation and reminiscence.

Its also quite substantial, over 400 pages in length and including a very good introduction from Paul M Sammon that possibly betters, in literary terms, ell those voluminous pages of his Future Noir book.

If Alcon Entertainment are ever going to revisit the Blade Runner IP, in some future film or television project, then its important that the brand be kept alive and books such as this are a part of that. I have read that Alcon are keen on maintaining Blade Runner in comics and books at least, keeping the property alive and valid- this book is an unofficial release and not endorsed by Alcon, but I think they might well be pleased that this book has begun the campaign to keep the property alive and get something made, film or whatever, someday.

All concerned here ‘have done a mans job’, and no mistake.


11 thoughts on “The Cyberpunk Nexus: Exploring the Blade Runner Universe

    1. Never judge a book by its cover! Ha ha, well, its the one thing that betrays its indie-publishing/fandom roots I guess- I actually liked its fanzine look, seemed about right in a strange way since its mostly about a 1982 movie. As its unofficial any ‘proper’ artwork was out of bounds, no doubt.

      1. rethinkingao

        Not at all! I’ve contributed to books I thought had horrible covers. For me, this one evokes not just the ’80s but also the neon-infused nightlife of 2019 Los Angeles. Perfect combo!

    1. You’re very welcome Lou, I really enjoyed it. I hope it sells well enough to encourage another book that perhaps concentrates more on BR2049, its many facets and subtexts and perhaps how it impacts on the original in further detail? There’s plenty more there to chew over- maybe I’m being greedy but I’d like to see more. Here’s hoping!

      1. I’m glad to know there are others out there who think the Jeter novels were “execrable”! The original title of my essay was, “The Edge of Boredom: The *Blade Runner* Sequels You Never Read.” Almost didn’t get through *Replicant Night* on my second attempt (nearly 20 years later), but the impending release of BR2049 pushed me on through the crap.

      2. They really were that bad, weren’t they? I couldn’t get through them first time around, and God knows I tried. What really angered me was that I could have written a better sequel myself, and this Jeter guy was let loose without any quality control far as I could tell. On the one hand, it was great to see Blade Runner back in some way but on the other it was the most depressing thing in the world. I still have the books in a box up in the loft but I can’t imagine ever getting them down to try reading them again. What were they thinking? If nothing else, Jeter’s books show how BR2049 was some kind of miracle. I only hope if Alcon get some spin-off books going they get some authors involved who are invested in it properly.

  1. This seems like exactly the kind of book I’d think looks really interesting, buy, then never read. I’m trying to stop doing that with books by, well, not buying them (and saving the buying & not watching for Blu-rays!)

    1. I know what you mean, but it turned out to be the perfect summer read for this Blade Runner fan. As far as the buying/not watching discs is concerned, I’m still working on it (haven’t watched the Captain Scarlet set or The China Syndrome yet, nor…. I’ll stop now).

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