Wednesday, May 15, 2013

May Monster Madness #5: Cybermen

Yesterday I wrote a little about the Weeping Angels.  Today I wanted to look at the Cybermen.

The Cybermen have been a staple of the Doctor Who universe for a long time. The Cybermen and the Daleks both tap into the fear of the technological overtaking the biological.  This is a fear that the Star Trek universe examines with the Borg.

In the original series of Doctor Who, the Cybermen were not originally human but were "upgraded" Mondasians.  In the new series, however, they were humans who were upgraded  by John Lumic of Cybus Industries.  Lumic's goal was to overcome the infirmities of the body.  Flesh decays and can be damaged.  By placing the brain into a robotic body, this inevitable bodily decay could be thwarted.  However, the mind couldn't cope with being placed in such a body, so all emotions had to be switched off.  The result is the death of the human.

Sure, the physical brain of the person still exists inside the metallic head, but without any emotion, how can anyone recognize the person they once were.  Is immortality really worth it if you have to give up all semblance of self to get it? Most people would say no.

Cybermen, once upgraded, do all they can to make sure everyone else they encounter is upgraded.  To them, this is the natural thing to do.  There seems to be no real malice in their actions.  The goal is to eliminate the painful realities of organic life.  Unfortunately, there is no reasoning with them.  They violate the autonomy of those they forcibly upgrade.  Looking into the eyes of the Cybermen, their victims can see the empty shells they are about to become, and that has to be terrifying.

As humans we fear loss of autonomy.  We fear that violation of self, and we intuitively know that when the things that make us human disappear (the ability to think independently, the ability to feel emotion), the self that we know disappears also.

I think this is the reason why the Cybermen have continued to be popular Doctor Who adversaries over the years.  As our dependence on technology grows, we fear we're losing something essential to ourselves.  Fortunately, I think we as humans can engage in science and create technology, because we're aware of what can happen.  We know there are boundaries, and while we may change in relation to our technology, and we may make mistakes, we will hold on to what makes us human.



  1. I remember the Cybermen! Great post!
    Stopping by with my MMM'S Carmen Jenner Author and Book Me!
    Happy Hopping! =D

  2. The Cybermen have always been my favourites! Especially in the Tom Baker days! This was a great read!
    Here's my day V MMM at Design du Jour.

  3. I really need to start watching Dr. Who. There seems to be so much I am missing.

  4. And things get scarier when we think about the fact that we are comfortable with technology that we don't see it as a "real" monster. All this makes me think of Harlan Ellison's "I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream." Scary...

  5. We don't get Dr. Who on TV so I watch episodes on YouTube. I usually have to do this in scenes or parts as episodes are not uploaded in their entirety.

    I did the Weeping Angels Monday. Great episode! Love Dr. Who.

  6. I love science fiction's ability to get right to the core of psychology. This is a great fear to exploit and although I've never been a Dr. Who watcher your description of them brings the idea across very clearly and it is creepy!

  7. No emotion - sounds horrific. Cuts off all creativity as well.

  8. Such a great post!
    Cyber Men are kind of cool!

    I love Dr Who, Tom Baker was my
    favourite Doctor, and my favourite
    monsters are definitely the Weeping Angels.
    (gave my daughter nightmares!)

    My MMM post for today - The

  9. No fangs, no claws, but gosh their description seems almost scarier than any creature! Great MMM post!

  10. The Cybermen make me feel oddly nostalgic because the first thing I think of is my son, when he was younger, constantly imitating the noise they make when they walk. :)