Tears in Rain – A Reaffirmation

Especially in times of economic and personal struggle, when you’re tempted to doubt some of the crucial decisions of your life, it may do some good to remind yourself why your passions are what they are. One of the best ways to reaffirm my conviction to be a science fiction writer and continue to be one is to watch one of the most memorable scenes of science fiction fiction cinema (which is well on its way to become the most iconic moment of recent cinematic history), Roy Batty’s famous Tears in Rain monologue at the end of Ridley Scott’s classic Blade Runner of 1982.

What is it that makes this short scene so touching that it moves fans to tears, even when watching it for the hundredth time? I think we have here, condensed and focused within the context of a masterpiece, all that is (or can be) great about science fiction: the sense of wonder in the detailed, atmospheric depiction of another world that, with all its visual attraction, is prophetically rooted in a reality we see unfolding; the political and dystopic aspects of a future when, once again and in new disguise, sentient beings are exploited as slaves; the metaphysical discourse of what is it that defines a human being and whether our creations may one day become more human than ourselves; and finally the realization that science fiction, especially sf cinema, can be in its best moments a stunning blend of multiple art forms, literature, music, visuals, in this case even great acting (it has been told that the film crew, at the end of an exhausting filming, spontaneously applauded Rutger Hauer’s performance after filming this scence; it was Hauer himself who had changed the screenplay’s original lines to the monologue we hear in the movie).

The hope to reach such a peak of expression in your own writing, in your own humble way, and be it just once or a few times, makes all the trouble of being a science fiction writer worthwhile, at least to my mind.