Inspired By Blade Runner
December 1, 2015 7:12 AM   Subscribe

You love Blade Runner, I love Blade Runner - a little too much. I need more. What are the best pieces of future noir media with the same setting/atmosphere?

I'm mostly looking for moody future noir detective fiction, prose or graphic, but I'm open to anything else that nails the tone and feeling. Currently I'm reading Tomorrow and Tomorrow, playing Read Only Memories, and just read a little comic called Old City Blues. I'm primed for more, even if it wasn't specifically influenced by BR.

Some other things I love that fit the bill:
- Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep (natch)
- the Blade Runner adventure game (natch)
- Snatcher/Policenauts
- Gemini Rue
- Slice of Life
- Moments Lost, the album inspired by the BR soundtrack
- The Animatrix short Detective Story
- A couple William Gibson books

And probably a good number of others I'm forgetting. I am open to manga and anime, but hesitant because something like Ghost in the Shell is a little too over-the-top for me and others have been too anime-y - though I'll try anything once. Heck, I even tried to watch Total Recall 2070 so my standards realistically aren't that high. I'm even open to the interpretation of "media" in the question - have a board game? Interactive art? Looping soundscape? I'm in.
posted by gregoryg to Media & Arts (32 answers total) 57 users marked this as a favorite
George Alec Effinger's Marîd Audran series comes to mind.
posted by octothorpe at 7:20 AM on December 1, 2015 [3 favorites]

Gun, With Occasional Music (Jonathan Lethem's first novel)
Dark City
Alphaville, which predates Blade Runner but was clearly an inspiration for it.
Strange Days
posted by mkultra at 7:26 AM on December 1, 2015 [3 favorites]

You might try Samuel Delany's Nova
posted by thelonius at 7:27 AM on December 1, 2015

You might like The Beam.
Gun, with Occasional Music is one of my favorite books. Definitely recommend.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 7:28 AM on December 1, 2015

Serial Experiments Lain is a great, moody, cyberpunkish anime. I'd definitely recommend it.
posted by thebots at 7:33 AM on December 1, 2015 [1 favorite]

The 1998 movie Soldier with Kurt Russell is unofficially set in the same universe as Blade Runner. In a montage of his career, Kurt Russell's character fights in the Battle of Tannhauser Gate.
posted by The Man from Lardfork at 7:35 AM on December 1, 2015 [1 favorite]

Take a look at the Astro City graphic novels, especially volume 4 "Tarnished Angel." Astro City swaps in the near futurism of superheroes for cyberpunk, but you get a similar feel of optimism turned sour.

Also, Batman the Animated Series, especially the two parter "Heart of Steel" where you might recognize a familiar voice.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 7:36 AM on December 1, 2015

I found Ghost in the Shell too much for me too, but recently watched Ergo Proxy and enjoyed it (sharing your love for Philip K Dickian Dystopian Future Sci Fi!). I kind of want to go back and watch it again, because there's a lot which passed me by on the way through the series that I assumed was the usual anime filler but turned out to be Totally Relevant. But I don't really see that as a negative so much, because I felt that way the first time I read a load of PKD's stuff, too.

Also, it has your detective element, but in the form of a kickass female character so that's a nice change.

And it's just the one series so you don't have to devote your life to catching up with it :)
posted by greenish at 7:40 AM on December 1, 2015

I am open to manga and anime, but hesitant because something like Ghost in the Shell is a little too over-the-top for me and others have been too anime-y - though I'll try anything once.

If you haven't seen it already, you might like Cowboy Bebop, which is about futuristic bounty hunters and has heavy noir influences. It's one of the least "anime-y" animes out there.
posted by AndrewInDC at 7:50 AM on December 1, 2015 [3 favorites]

Musicwise, there's The Future Sound of London. A good one to start with: ISDN.
posted by popcassady at 7:51 AM on December 1, 2015 [1 favorite]

Max Headroom (the TV show)
posted by O9scar at 8:11 AM on December 1, 2015 [6 favorites]

The Man in the High Castle
posted by fivesavagepalms at 8:16 AM on December 1, 2015

Try Appleseed in paperback.
posted by bdc34 at 8:19 AM on December 1, 2015

The music of Yellow Magic Orchestra (YMO) is a great match for the early-'80s cyberpunk aesthetic. Their albums can be tough to find on the normal streaming services (unless you live in Japan) but there's a ton of their videos and live performance footage on Youtube. Here's the first song off of their most popular album, *Solid State Survivor": Technopolis (live)
posted by Strange Interlude at 8:28 AM on December 1, 2015 [1 favorite]

I really liked Altered Carbon. The rest of the books in the series were okay, but I think the first was the best.

Also, seconding cowboy bebob and thirding gun with occasional music.
posted by kookywon at 8:32 AM on December 1, 2015 [2 favorites]

Seconding Altered Carbon, and also strongly recommending the Carlucci trilogy by Richard Paul Russo.
posted by Joh at 8:36 AM on December 1, 2015

Wait, when you say Ghost in the Shell, are you referring to the movie or the Stand Alone Complex series? Because given your list I would be very surprised if you didn't like the series.
posted by thetortoise at 8:38 AM on December 1, 2015 [1 favorite]

Seconding Ergo Proxy and Serial Experiments Lain.
posted by Gev at 8:38 AM on December 1, 2015

Maureen F. McHugh's China Mountain Zhang has got that noir future vibe. Plus it's beautifully written.
posted by crookedneighbor at 8:42 AM on December 1, 2015 [4 favorites]

It should have been so much better, but Caprica fits the bill.
posted by General Malaise at 9:17 AM on December 1, 2015

I just watched "Xspanse" pilot, on Syfy, and many of the shots are completely derivative of Alien and Blade runner.

Also, try some of Philip Dick's short stories, they really shine.

If you have not see Spielberg's Minority Report, it has a very Blade Runner inspired aesthetic.

Ridley Scott's early film, called The Duellists, is between two soldiers during the Napoleonic era, and it shot very much in the mood of Blade Runner.

Also, much of the Hellboy series quotes very heavily visually from Ridley Scott.
posted by effluvia at 9:19 AM on December 1, 2015

K. W. Jeter's Noir. It's right there in the name, and he was even a friend of Philip K. Dick ("Kevin" in Valis is based on him.) He's also written some authorized sequels to Blade Runner.
posted by kindall at 9:48 AM on December 1, 2015 [2 favorites]

Came to also suggest NOIR by K.W. Jeter.
posted by humboldt32 at 9:55 AM on December 1, 2015 [2 favorites]

I think The City & the City, by China Miéville would fit.
posted by Green With You at 10:01 AM on December 1, 2015 [2 favorites]

How do you feel about Gilliam's dystopian futurism, e.g. Brazil and/or 12 Monkeys?
posted by Nerd of the North at 11:13 AM on December 1, 2015

AD Police is an anime from the early 1990s (well, that's when I watched it in the US, but back in those days, anime spread by people malling laserdiscs and such) that was directly inspired by Blade Runner. It's a prequel spinoff of the Bubblegum Crisis series, which is... not blade-runner inspired, since it's more about sexy women in power armor ("Knight Sabers"). AD Police are the force dedicated to dealing with crime related to "boomers," the synthetic people (built for sex, combat, and everything in between) that are some of the labor force in that world.

You watched Total Recall 2070-- ugh, that show. You've got it bad.
posted by Sunburnt at 12:29 PM on December 1, 2015

Paul Di Filippo’s Ribofunk, definitely. It includes several moody futuristic detective stories (private investigator, genetic engineering, the works).

Nthing Gun, With Occasional Music and especially Alphaville.

Also: You mention “a couple” William Gibson books -- how about the rest? (Particularly the Sprawl trilogy and the Bridge trilogy.)
posted by miles per flower at 12:44 PM on December 1, 2015

I just binged on Ghost in the Shell after finally finishing the second season of GITS: Stand Alone Complex. I followed with 4 hours of Arise and the new movie from this year, which I finished last night. (WOW!) The movies and Arise OVAs were very much over the top, but I agree with thetortoise that both seasons of Stand Alone Complex might be in your wheelhouse. I haven't yet watched GITS:SAC:Solid State Society, the movie that caps the SAC series. SAC has less of the overly-complicated audience-misdirection, and more police work, often very elliptical, but with such a wonderfully constructed arc that what appear to be the filler and background episodes become big contributors. Even the annoying bits with the infantile thinking spider-tanks, the Tachikomas.

Syfy's new "Expanse" (there's an E at the start, I swear) series due to start on the 14th looked decent enough, and you might give the first book Leviathan Wakes a try. The character of Miller (Thomas Jane in the show) is a cop on a private force that has the law-enforcement contract on Ceres (a major body in the Asteroir belt) who is charged with investigating the whereabouts of a missing girl, a black sheep from a megawealthy family. Later books take the focus off Miller though he continues to appear in later books. Considering the pace of the first episode of the show, I think it's fair to guess that season 1 of this show covers "Leviathan" only.
posted by Sunburnt at 12:55 PM on December 1, 2015 [1 favorite]

If you want to dip a toe in some Delany before tackling Nova, "Time Considered as a Helix of Semi-precious Stones," is a great, short intro to his writing. Delany has said he wrote it after seeing one of the early Bond movies.

Don't think anyone's mentioned "The Long Tomorrow," something Dan O'Bannon and Moebius worked up together while working on Jodorowsky's doomed Dune.
posted by Bron at 2:24 PM on December 1, 2015 [1 favorite]

Android is basically Fantasy Flight's crack at making a Blade Runner board game, with some success. I think you'll find that the tone and feel of the game's universe is spot on. Each player is a different character investigating the same murder in New Angeles, with different goals and secrets. It has a pretty steep learning curve, and I hesitate to recommend it because I've only played it a few times and don't think I really get it yet, but you can't beat it for theme and story.
posted by Errant at 1:13 PM on December 2, 2015

The Penny Arcade guys wrote a couple comics in a 1920's noire setting but with AI robots called Automata, that I think has three parts so far. There was also a kickstarter in July to make a live action series. Might be something to keep your eye on, though perhaps not futuristic enough for you.
posted by DynamiteToast at 11:47 AM on December 7, 2015

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