To a large extent, television and cinema sci-fi has been taken over by dumb action stories. Also, they like to lavish special effects which are easier and cheaper to do, such as optical effect rayguns and “cyborg vision” displays. Actual alien and robot practical effects beyond really superficial stuff is quite rare. The norm is basically the “Data” approach of somebody who simply acts stiff and stilted but is otherwise a normal human actor. Even the very notion that a “cyborg” must be a partially robotic human is IMO a tedious trope of sci-fi which tends to be less interesting than most other possibilities. For instance, AI-based artificial life or other self-programming / self-replicating machines are still “cybernetic organisms”. Worse, most of these stories don’t have any ideas about the concept, beyond tedious “Pinocchio” rehash.
I liked that Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles looked like another dumb action setpiece, while subverting many of the tropes. It’s intro sequence was perfunctory. I actually liked it more than the movies, as it dealt with more realistic PTSD issues and turned AIs from generic technological bogeys into actual AI characters.
My favorite cyborg series is still Ghost in the Shell: Standalone Complex and GITS: 2nd Gig in that they explored the tech and societal implications far more than anything else I’ve seen, Rather than merely having a mechanical body and/or brain, the GITS universe is aware that this makes people networked and even hackable in ways beyond what many take for granted biologically. Being able to use multiple bodies, copy or split one’s consciousness, back up one’s personality, etc put near the realm of sophistication of more literary sci-fi, such as Charles Platt’s “Silicon Man” or Greg Egan’s “Permutation City”.
Had to pause and say that I just read a synopsis of GITS and was blown away.
Question of OP hereby resolved, and I haven’t even read the series yet.
I agree and think that subvert-the-genre writing and production is present in nearly all of Joss Whedon’s work. It’s surprising there’s not more considering how much less expensive production is and how many more distribution options are available.
Narratives about multiple identical clones or time-looped duplicates is the single most under-valued sci-fi story. It’s the best part of Orphan Black. All my favorite stories use this device or a version of the unfamiliar familiar. And Neal Stephenson’s Baroque trilogy and other alternate past stories leverage it.
Agreed. The Data-is-learning-to-be-human story arc in Star Trek The Next Generation mostly ruined the show.
I love it! I used to have the first half of it, and should definitely watch the whole thing. I don’t remember what I saw involving cyborgs specifically,but it seemed to be working in a more oblique way towards some of the same themes GITS does. The two series’ sensibilities feel quite different to me, I don’t prefer either of them over the other.
It’s not exactly a cyborg theme, and not exactly not… I don’t want to spoil it for anybody who hasn’t watched it. AFAICT it’s not that well known and deserves to be better known.
A few very minor things I liked about it: the references to the (past) adoption of IPv7; the way once she starts getting into computers her room goes from the one kids’ “NAVI” to eventually overflowing with stacks and racks full of home-built water-cooled high-performance PCs; the examination of “information wants to be free”.