Introducing Cyborg in Fiction

Lester D. Stone, EL 65, The Cyborg Self, Brown University, 2006

Cyborgs in fiction represent the average person's or nearly everyone's view of the word itself. From at least Frankenstein, to the latest cyberpunk anime, the cyborg brings a very popular image in the mind of millions of people. The Japanese take on the cyborgb brings usually a richer version because more depth in the characters and a deeper bond between human and machine shows more than in the American side. While this is certainly not true with all fiction, comic books and animation especially tend to bring the Japanese side on a deeper more mature level. Japanese Cyborgs brings a closer lens into the issue of the Japanese while this page and remaining pages on fiction will look closely at American comic books as well as cyberpunk films. The cyborg resides mainly in a category of fiction called cyberpunk. Cyberpunk is a genre that focuses on information technology and cybernetics as well as the break down of the government or social order. In many cyberpunk books, hackers, mega-corporations and artificial intelligence are featured. In Japanese cyberpunk, the focus tends to be on the cyborg itself with emphasis on dystopian societies as well as corporations. Hackers tends to be less emphasized. Akira, Japan's classic example does not involve hacking. The Gibson novels, Neuromancer, Mona Lisa Overdrive and Count Zero involve hackers to a much greater extent. Also, voodoo plays a role in the Gibson trilogy. In terms of movies, Terminator, the Matrix, and Blade Runner are prime examples of cyberpunk. In all the cyberpunk, the protagonist comes from a disenfranchised background and remains the lone wolf. Western cyberpunk tends to show androids and cyborgs in a darker light than the eastern cyberpunk. The blade runner's job was to kill the replicant or android. In the Bubblegum Crisis, the main characters were certainly androids who were fighting an evil corporation. Ghost in the Shell in opposition to Neuromancer was about a police team that consisted of cyborgs stopping a hacker who was an artificial intelligence. Neuromancer portrayed hacker against machine. East and West have a different way of thinking even in cyberpunk. How cyborgs deal with emotions becomes an issue in many stories as well as other psychological problems. Terminator brings the classical example of a machine that grows feelings and becomes more human while he was previously portrayed as a cold-blooded killer. Reproduction as well as questions of the body are brought to attention from Gibson to the Matrix. Gender becomes questioned especially in many anime. Does a cyborg need a gender? Why women portrayed in the masculine role represents a shift in the role of women in that society? Cyborg fiction brings out the repressed female from the male point of view by having the female as the lead and male as the weakling many times.

History of the Cyborg: Index

Course Website cyborg Body & Self

Last modified 30 December 2006