Monday, June 3, 2013

Cybermen, The Borg, and Replicators

I have a secret.  I’ve never seen or read a Doctor Who story, until now.

Since contributors to Fantasy Matters have kept me curious, I set my DVR to record a recent episode on BBC America.  As it turns out, I watched "Nightmare In Silver" by Neil Gaiman [the penultimate episode of season 7].   And, without further ado, I truly understand what all the fuss is about.  Doctor Who has a new devotee.

[spoilers about this episode follow]

My excitement for this episode comes down to one thing: cybermites.  I thoroughly enjoyed how these tiny devices reanimate the Cybermen as well as invade the good doctor’s mind.  Bravo Neil Gaiman.  Bravo. 

Ever since seeing TRON as a kid in 1982, I’ve been fascinated with this concept of humanity merging with technology.  That’s why two of my favorite science fiction villains are the Borg from Star Trek and the Replicators from Stargate SG-1.  But the cybermites are like the Borg and the Replicators merged as one.  I love it. 

Moreover, I’m awed by the fact that the Cybermen predate the ideas of the Borg collective or the human-form Replicants.  I’ve read that the 1966 episode "The Tenth Planet" was the premiere of the Cybermen.  I want to see it. 

I’ve also read that Gaiman received a challenge to “make the Cybermen scary again.”  I think he succeeded, but with the cybermites.  They glow in the dark when kids are sleeping alone in a cosmic amusement park.  “Don’t let the bed bugs bite” just got a wicked new meaning.  Can you imagine the Earth being invaded by them?  Or maybe it already was.  I’ve also read that in Doctor Who lore the Earth had a twin planet - hence The Tenth Planet - from which the Cybermen arose.  Tell me more.

I intend to bribe Gaiman with a stout drink.  Someone has to encourage more episodes with these cybermites.  I have a suspicion that Doctor Who has influenced many a sci fi writer in creating the ultimate nemesis.  That’s impressive.

I’ve set the DVR to record more episodes.  It thrills me that I have such a colossal archive of material to see and read.  Hear hear for Doctor Who!

By Mark Schelske