Friday, April 12, 2013

Those aren't your memories, they're somebody elses.

When looking through You Tube for teaching resources recently for a class on mapping out and writing dialogue scenes (spoken lines and body language), one  of the scenes I considered but didn't ultimately use was from the movie Blade Runner, specifically the scene where Deckard (Harrison Ford) tells Rachael (Sean Young) that she isn't real - that she is a replicant - a genetically engineered organic robot. The memories she has have been planted, her past is fake. To Deckard's surprise, the emotional connection Rachael has to this fake information is very real. The short scene is underplayed and very poignant.

Sean Young was never better than in this scene.

The line about the spider's egg hatching and all the little spiders crawling out and killing their parent, is metaphorical for one of the film's themes, dealing with robotics and artificial intelligence and who ends up controlling who.

The film itself has been hugely influential, with it's constant twilight going to dusk, and the sense of dirt beneath the fingertips grounding a whole new breed of science fiction and later leading (indirectly) to concepts like cyberbunk. It banished the men in shiny silver suits moving in stainless steel rooms with pristine floors that peopled so much 1950s/60s science fiction to the outer margins.  

The success of the film also saw a resurgence in interest (and a new interest from Hollywood) in the novels of author Phillip K. Dick, whose novel 'Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep' is the prose work the movie is based on.

Reaching in and grabbing out...

Watched an interesting interview with China Mieville, the English fantasy and science fiction novelist. You can watch the full interview (28 minutes) here.

Mieville's novel The City and The City (2009) is a nightmare noir, combining classic 40's detective story tropes with the kind of encroaching darkness explored in dystopian future and cyberpunk novels. Certainly one of the more interesting stories I've read in recent years.

I can certainly relate to Mieville's line in the interview:

'My head, like most people's head, is a kind of washing machine full of jostling nonsense....and both my academic and political interests on the one hand, and my fiction interests on the other, reach in and grab out from that shared arena.'

The interview is conducted by American librarian of some repute, Nancy Pearl. I attended a Writers Festival a few years ago in which Nancy was one of the guests in a small group that I was in that traveled to a small retreat for a couple of days. I have rarely met anyone more in love with (and knowledgeable about) books.