Monday, July 31, 2017

Claud, The Lonely Cyborg

(From Ray X X-Rayer #137.)

You got troubles?  Imagine what it must be like for the cyborgs depicted in the Space Man comic book series (Dell, 1962).

The US government has joined the Galactic Guard, pitching in to defend peaceful worlds from evil aliens.  Some brave American men have volunteered to become cybernetic organisms that can handle living in outer space.

High tech mechanisms have been added to each volunteer through surgery.  Cyborg conversion means no more need to breath oxygen or depend upon food for energy.  Human lungs have been replaced with an oxygen and carbon dioxide converter.  A cyborg is enwrapped in a special skintight protective covering that blocks his mouth and ears.  He can only communicate through a speaker embedded in his chest.  And as for hearing -- no go.  He has to lip read what a normal person is saying.  (Microphones couldn't be installed?  Lousy cyborgizing.)

Not discussed is what happened to the sex organs.  Most likely they were no longer needed like the lungs.

The cyborgs play important roles in the Galactic Guard.  They go into battle against alien enemies.  And they also wait on tables.

That's right.  When the normals sit down for a meal cyborgs are waiters, hauling trays back and forth.  Did the man who volunteered to be cyborgized know he was going to do menial chores like serving meals? Cyborgs probably do the dishes and clean the toilets.  Now that's patriotism.  Or is it second class status?  Apparently the cyborgs don't have the balls to complain about such servitude.

In Space Man #7 a normal, Mary, is in training to serve in the Galactic Guard.  In one panel she talks about her life with some cyborgs, the caption explaining she is providing a bright spot in the lives of the lonely cyborgs. It must be lonesome when you usually hang around most of the time with other cyborgs until a normal asks you to do something.

At least each cyborg keeps his first name instead of being numbered.  The most valuable player is Claud  -- actually he's called Claud, The Cyborg -- who is always ready to assist the normals.  Usually the conversation with him is basically "What is it, Claud?" or "What's up, Claud?"  Just a servant who never receives any thanks.  He doesn't complain even after losing his normal human body forever.

One wonders if his soul has been replaced with a high tech mechanism.


Charles Gramlich said...

Thinking that I wouldn't volunteer myself. Man this trope has a long history. I did something like it in a story in the 1980s called "A Stained Honor"

X. Dell said...

This reminds me of a Backstory podcast where they talked about historical visions of the future, and how so many of them can be mired in the social/class/economic and political structures of the time they are written.