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Scott Bukatman's Terminal Identity—referring to both the site of the termination of the conventional "subject" and the birth of a new subjectivity constructed at the computer terminal or television screen--puts to rest any lingering doubts of the significance of science fiction in contemporary cultural studies. Demonstrating a comprehensive knowledge, both of the history of science fiction narrative from its earliest origins, and of cultural theory and philosophy, Bukatman redefines the nature of human identity in the Information Age. Drawing on a wide range of contemporary theories of the postmodern—including Fredric Jameson, Donna Haraway, and Jean Baudrillard—Bukatman begins with the proposition that Western culture is suffering a crisis brought on by advanced electronic technologies. Then in a series of chapters richly supported by analyses of literary texts, visual arts, film, video, television, comics, computer games, and graphics, Bukatman takes the reader on an odyssey that traces the postmodern subject from its current crisis, through its close encounters with technology, and finally to new self-recognition. This new "virtual subject," as Bukatman defines it, situates the human and the technological as coexistent, codependent, and mutally defining. Synthesizing the most provocative theories of postmodern culture with a truly encyclopedic treatment of the relevant media, this volume sets a new standard in the study of science fiction—a category that itself may be redefined in light of this work. Bukatman not only offers the most detailed map to date of the intellectual terrain of postmodern technology studies—he arrives at new frontiers, providing a propitious launching point for further inquiries into the relationship of electronic technology and culture.
The headlong rush, the rapid montage, the soaring superhero, the plunging roller coaster—Matters of Gravity focuses on the experience of technological spectacle in American popular culture over the past century. In these essays, leading media and cultural theorist Scott Bukatman reveals how popular culture tames the threats posed by technology and urban modernity by immersing people in delirious kinetic environments like those traversed by Plastic Man, Superman, and the careening astronauts of 2001: A Space Odyssey and The Right Stuff. He argues that as advanced technologies have proliferated, popular culture has turned the attendant fear of instability into the thrill of topsy-turvydom, often by presenting images and experiences of weightless escape from controlled space. Considering theme parks, cyberspace, cinematic special effects, superhero comics, and musical films, Matters of Gravity highlights phenomena that make technology spectacular, permit unfettered flights of fantasy, and free us momentarily from the weight of gravity and history, of past and present. Bukatman delves into the dynamic ways pop culture imagines that apotheosis of modernity: the urban metropolis. He points to two genres, musical films and superhero comics, that turn the city into a unique site of transformative power. Leaping in single bounds from lively descriptions to sharp theoretical insights, Matters of Gravity is a deft, exhilarating celebration of the liberatory effects of popular culture.
Ridley Scott's dystopian classic Blade Runner, an adaptation of Philip K. Dick's novel, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, combines noir with science fiction to create a groundbreaking cyberpunk vision of urban life in the twenty-first century. With replicants on the run, the rain-drenched Los Angeles which Blade Runner imagines is a city of oppression and enclosure, but a city in which transgression and disorder can always erupt. Graced by stunning sets, lighting, effects, costumes and photography, Blade Runner succeeds brilliantly in depicting a world at once uncannily familiar and startlingly new. In his innovative and nuanced reading, Scott Bukatman details the making of Blade Runner and its steadily improving fortunes following its release in 1982. He situates the film in terms of debates about postmodernism, which have informed much of the criticism devoted to it, but argues that its tensions derive also from the quintessentially twentieth-century, modernist experience of the city – as a space both imprisoning and liberating. In his foreword to this special edition, published to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the BFI Film Classics series, Bukatman suggests that Blade Runner 's visual complexity allows it to translate successfully to the world of high definition and on-demand home cinema. He looks back to the sciencefiction tradition of the early 1980s, and on to the key changes in the 'final' version of the film in 2007, which risk diminishing the sense of instability created in the original.

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