The persistence of vision was long a foundational concept in the history of the movies. It was one of the physiological explanations for our ability to read motion into still images that were being projected at 16, 18, or perhaps 24 times per second; they simply imprinted themselves on the retina, were then joined with others, and processed as a continuous-moving and meaningful-image within the viewer’s mind. So key was this concept that one of our early critical journals took this concept as its name: Persistence of Vision (published by the Cinema program of New York University). I want to suggest that this term (bound up as it is with notions of imprinting, continuity, and meaning) might also be useful for approaching a particular science fiction (sf) concept that has similarly imprinted its elf, at least for long moments in film and media history, on our collective retinalimaginations-the figure of the robot/android/cyborg/replicant. For this figure has not only lingered in our science fictional imaginary, as probably the most enduring and characteristic image in the sf cinema, but it has also, at various points in the genre’s development, taken on a persistent form, repeatedly appearing as a kind of insistent archetype, one that might remind us of

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