From Modern Mythcraft to Magical Surrealism

Blog for a Cyborg

Last week, Blog for a Reviser asked “If you could choose one mundane household item to be your magic reviser, which item would you choose and how would you use it?” Our winner was Cat C. with:

The toilet.

“Gosh, why did I ever buy this shirt? Dancing reindeer are so not cool…” *FLUSH* Gone!

“Why did I answer when she asked me if I thought her new outfit made her butt look big? There was no right answer…” *Brushes teeth, rinses mouth, and spits rinsate into the toilet* *FLUSH* Gone!

“Why did I go and look at my ex-girlfriend’s Facebook page? I didn’t really want to see her making out with her new flavor of the week…” *Tips head over the toilet and pulls out thoughts a la Dumbledore with the Pensieve, drops them into the commode* *FLUSH* Gone!

I’m not sure that the septic system would handle all of this new input so well, so the “magic revisionist toilet” would really have to be a “magic revisionist toilet/septic system” to work properly I suppose.

Congratulations, Cat C. Email us to collect your winnings.

This week, we revisit the borgs with Blog for a Cyborg. Among the below cyborgs (or add one of your own picks), which is your favorite and why?

The Six Million Dollar Man and The Bionic Woman (1973-1978)
ABC Network

Who can forget the 1970s classic made-for-TV movies and series, The Six Million Dollar Man, and its spinoff, The Bionic Woman? Steve Austin, a cyborg working for the Office of Scientific Intelligence (OSI) chases down bad guys, snaps metal chains with his bare hands, and leaps from tall buildings to carry endangered young women to safety at cheetah speed, all except for Jamie Sommers, of course. The bionic woman is quite capable of taking care of herself and the bad guys.

Blade Runner
Directed by Ridley Scott (1982)

Blade Runner is a cult classic starring Harrison Ford, Rutger Hauer, and Sean Young. The screenplay, written by Hampton Fancher and David Peoples, is loosely based on Philip K. Dick’s novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? This film features a dystopian Los Angeles in 2019 where replicants, or biologically engineered humanoid beings, are illegal, perceived as dangerous. Harrison Ford’s character, Rick Deckard, reluctantly agrees to help hunt a recently escaped Nexus-6, “the worst yet.” Blade Runner, like The Terminator, belongs to the Library of Congress’s National Film Registry as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.”

RoboCop (1987)
Directed by Paul Verhoeven

Set in near future and dystopian Detroit, Michigan, a cop, played by Peter Weller, suffers torture and gang execution. He’s brought back via cybernetic technology and released to patrol the city. Riddled with one-liners reminiscent of The Terminator, this film has taken on something of a cult following itself. Critically acclaimed as satirical, the film uses ultra-violence in an over-the-top, stylistic social commentary.

Star Wars (1977)
Directed by George Lucas

Darth Vader, the cyborg father of Luke Skywalker, needs no introduction. After his body burns beyond repair, scientists save him with machine augmentation, including of course, a heavy respirator. Of all the cyborg villains, Darth Vader may truly be the most memorable.

 Star Trek: Voyager (1995-2001)
Rick Berman, Michael Piller, and Jeri Tayler

Star Wars may have the most memorable cyborg villain, but Star Trek arguably wins the creepiest cyborg award for aesthetics. Melding beauty with machinery, the Borg Queen is a sultry mix of grace, poise, and sociopathic tendencies.

 

I, Robot (2004)
Directed by Alex Proyas

The original I, Robot stories, nine in all, were written by Issac Asimov and adapted into the 2004 film which chronicles Del Spooner, played by Will Smith. Spooner, a futuristic detective, takes a murder case involving a robot suspect. Spooner’s prejudice against the robot is an ironic spin as Spooner, himself, was fitted long ago with a robotic arm after suffering a tragic accident. Spooner, a cyborg, must look past his prejudice against robots in order to find inner peace and solve the crime.

Soldier (1964)
The Outer Limits

Written by Harlan Ellison, this episode of The Outer Limits depicts a futuristic soldier, Qarlo. Qarlo is sent back in time where he’s captured by the government, and they don’t know what to do with him. Tom Kagan, a philologist, decides to take Qarlo home to the wife and kiddies. Critics disagree over whether this is classic sci-fi at its best or exalted SF. Either way, the most distressing issue about the episode is the narrator’s and characters’ inabilities to settle upon a pronunciation of Qarlo’s name. Is he [karlo] or [quarlo]? If you like Soldier, check out Ellison’s other episode, Demon with a Glass Hand: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lImaly19Yps.

The Matrix (1999)
Directed by Larry and Andy Wachowski

As with The Terminator, purists and neo-cyborgists argue over the validity of The Matrix as a true cyborg film. Does the permanent receptacle in the head qualify? How about the hooked up pod babies? Whatever the classification, Matrix science certainly allows for human, machine correlation, set in sci-fantasy, dystopian, and futuristic settings.

Starship Troopers (1997)
Directed by Paul Verhoeven

Another sub-genre of cyborg classification includes the use of exoskeleton suits nicknamed lobsters, a concept penned by author, Bruce Sterling. Based on Robert A. Heinlein’s “Starship Soldier,” published in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction (1959). Starship Troopers portrays foot soldiers fitted with exoskeleton suits. The suits regulate temperatures and enhance sensory abilities while on the battlefield. The concept of lobster cyborgs calls into question the definitive term. Must an exoskeleton invasively connect or hook into the human in order to qualify as cyborg?

X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009)
Directed by Gavin Hood

X-Men Origins: Wolverine gives the backstory to the character, Wolverine, the dark, edgy man-animal who fans love to fear. The movie certainly puts to rest the depth of this character’s pain, but a question still lingers. Is he cyborg or not? He certainly has movable metal parts, but the parts are not robotically mechanized. Rather, they move by extra-sensory ability. Maybe Wolverine deserves his own cyborg sub-genre. He is a mutant, after all. Either way, this film is a must see in 2009 for the Marvel Comics fan-base. X-Men Origins: Wolverine is action packed, socially satirical, and full of beautiful mutants.

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