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Is this to be an Empathy Test? David Hartley on 'Blade Runner'


Our podcast co-host (and hardworking administrator!) David Hartley has just published his first academic journal article. His paper "'Is this to be an empathy test?'" Autism and Neuroqueer Expression in Blade Runner (1982)" is featured in the latest disability-themed edition of the Science Fiction Film and Television Journal.


The publication is fortuitously timed to coincide with the 40th anniversary of the cult sci-fi classic and the paper argues that Blade Runner might be reconsidered as a parable for neurodiversity. Following the writings of autistic scholars such as Remi Yergeau, Julie Miele Rodas, and James McGrath, Hartley suggests that the estrangements of the human-like cyborgs of Ridley Scott's dystopian L.A. mirror the calls for neurodivergent acceptance in present-day activism. He also suggests that the spectacular and celebrated aesthetics of the film might be interpreted as being in alignment with a neurodivergent outlook where the pleasures and stimulations of witnessing spectacle are prioritised over the trappings of narrative.


Hartley's paper is available now in the latest issue of SFFTV. To hear more about his thoughts on the relationship between autism and science fiction, check out the Under the Skin episode of our podcast:



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