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Resistance Might be Futile But Cyborgs Can Be Fun, Too

Robots know how to party!

Alternate Reailty Pauline Baird Jones Facebook Instagram

I can still remember my first sight of the unrelenting, seemingly unstoppable Borg. Talk about creepy villains. It wasn’t just their lack of emotion that made them such deliciously awful opposition, but the very real threat of being assimilated, of losing free will. You don’t just get defeated by the bad guys, you become one of them. You go from fighting them to helping them assimilate the people you care about.

When Picard gets grabbed, that scene where he’s being refitted got a major, emotional boost when that single tear trailed down his cheek. You knew that somewhere inside he knew what was happening to him and he hated it. Talk about tapping into our deep fears and giving them a big squeeze!

 

Are automatons the forerunners to the Borg? Can they, do they, tap into the same fears and chills? Is it an either or equation, or just two different ways to look at the same thing? Is it their lack of humanity that chills? That they can’t be reasoned with? Can’t feel our pain?

The books I’ve read seem to focus the most on the unrelenting, rigorously obedient aspects of the automaton, though What Ho Automaton, a steampunk pair of novellas by Chris Dolley goes for the intelligent automaton called Reeves (a pastiche on PG Wodehouse that is a cute, fun read).

And there are romantic possibilities when automatons become sentient. .

I will admit to taking a stroll through automaton land in my steampunk/science fiction romance mashups (Steamrolled, Steam Time, Kicking Ashe), but I definitely revisited that trope when I rebooted my Project Enterprise series.

My cyborgs first appear in Lost Valyr as the robotic crew of the Najer. They seem to be enemies, but you know the old saying, “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.” They enter into an alliance with my Project Enterpise people to face a huge enemy and then continue the alliance when they all don’t die. (I do write happy endings, after all.)

To help with the alliance, some of them take on human form, either completely or partially (thus becoming cyborgs.) They created some fun opportunities for me going forward. And I’m excited I still have a few of their stories to tell.

What about you? What are your favorite cyborg/automaton reads and movies?
Perilously yours,

Pauline

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