You can't be beautiful and immortal until you abandon your meatsack! Surrogates, opening Friday, shows a culture that's gone over to robot avatars. But here are ten other universes where you could abandon your flesh for a shiny, perfect robo-body.
These are the science-fiction universes where you can transfer your consciousness into a robot body permanently, and wave goodbye to those annoying bones and excretory organs forever. And tomorrow, we'll have a list of the ten best robot bodies you can plug your brain into, and control temporarily.
Note: To some extent, there's some overlap here with the list we did a while ago of people who died and went to cyber-heaven. So we left out a few examples from the earlier list, like Dr. Ira Graves and Juliana Soong in Star Trek: The Next Generation.
Mindscan, by Robert J. Sawyer
Wealthy Jake Sullivan is dying of a rare medical condition, so he pays the Immortex corporation to scan his brain and load him into a new, immortal robot body. There, he meets a children's author, Karen, who's also gotten a robot body so she can keep her copyrights for centuries. They fall in love — but Jake's original meat body, who's still not dead yet, decides to sue to get his personhood back from the robot duplicate. And after Kate's meat body dies, her son sues to get control over her estate.
In this bizarre, messed-up Hong Kong movie, an evil super-rich business man loads his brain into a robot body. And a sexy crime-fighting babe gets killed trying to stop him — so two female scientists, in shiny fetishy labcoats, put her naked body on a table with an also-naked robot body, and then transfer her consciousness into the robot. So she can go out there and kick some robo-butt. (We have a couple more clips from Robotrix here.)
8th Man aka 8-Man:
In this early Japanese anime series, Special Agent Brady gets killed, but downloads his brain into a robot body and becomes the 8th Man, a robot superhero who has superior speed, strength and reflexes, and he can change his appearance at will. His alter ego is Tobor, a private detective. Watch him deal with a Godzilla-esque robot from outer space, in this awesome clip.
Stargate: SG-1, "Tin Man"
The SG-1 crew winds up on a planet where a man named Harlen copies their consciousnesses into robot bodies. In an interesting twist on the usual "minds transferred into robot bodies" concept, it turns out that the crew's original bodies are intact, and they're eventually free to go. The robot duplicates meet their original selves, and the robots are a bit jealous of the "real" crew, who get to go home. Witness this exchange between robot Jack O'Neil and the "real" Jack:
ROBOT JACK: Somebody stole my life. That's what happened.
O'NEILL: You talking about my life?
ROBOT JACK: Hey, I've got every right to it that you do. I was kind of hoping I could figure out away to undo all this, get myself back into my body, where I belong.
O'NEILL: Well it's occupied, thank you.
The "Ware" series by Rudy Rucker
Cobb Anderson is an aging computer scientist who's best known for committing treason — he gave the robots free will and liberated them from the restrictive laws of robotics. Now the robots, who are living on the Moon, have come up with a scheme for Cobb to live forever — they've created a perfect robot duplicate of his body, and they want to digitize his consciousness and load it into the new shell. The only catch: to scan Cobb's brain and duplicate it, they have to slice it up, thus destroying it in the process.
Sliders, "State Of The Art"
The dimensional travelvers visit a world where robots have taken over — and the robots' creator, James Aldohn, has found a process to transfer a human consciousness into a robot body. The only downside: it's an untested procedure, and he needs to use the visitors as guinea pigs. Weirdly, the scene where Katherine McClellan's robot body gets switched on has inspired some really odd slow-mo Youtube fetish vids.
The Outer Limits, "The Brain Of Colonel Barham"
Colonel Barham, a dying astronaut, volunteers to have his brain loaded into a robot body so he can go to Mars before the Soviets — although, in this case, it looks like they keep part of the meat brain alive, so it's an edge case. In any case, the arrogant Col. Barham goes nuts once he's in a robot body, and he starts trying to kill anyone who messes with him. Somehow, his robot body has the ability to control people's minds and turn them into zombies.
We couldn't leave this Battlestar Galactica prequel out — that plucky Zoe Graystone gets killed in a terrorist bombing, but luckily she's figured out a way to back up her brain electronically first, because the human mind only takes up about 300 MB of disk space.
Skinned by Robin Wasserman
Lia Kahn is rich, young and beautiful — unfortunately she's also fatally injured in a car accident. So her dad pays for her consciousness to be transferred into a new robot body. She no longer eats or has any sense of smell, and she doesn't feel touch the same way she used to. Is she still the same person she used to be? Even she isn't sure, and her old "popular kids" clique at high school isn't sure whether to accept her either. Think you had a hard time fitting in in high school? Imagine doing it with a robot body, in a culture that's uncomfortable with uploaded humans. (Read an interview with the author here.) Another novel with a similar theme is Nightmare In Silicon by Colette Phair.
Star Trek: "What Are Little Girls Made Of?"
Captain Kirk's mind gets copied perfectly into an android body, except that he's obsessed with being sick of Spock's half-breed interference, because that's what Kirk was muttering to himself when his mind got scanned. I love the spinning table with the two naked Shatners on it (at around 5:20 in this video.) Of course, they don't destroy Kirk's original fleshy body, probably just because they don't get around to it.
The Red Skull And Zola both transfer their brains into robot bodies in Captain America Reborn
Osama Tezuka (creator of Astro Boy) writes a story of a dying person whose consciousness gets transferred into a robot body in the Phoenix series.
Starr Saxon, aka Machinesmith, becomes a gay robotic supervillain in issues of Daredevil and the Fantastic Four. (See top image.)
Ghost In The Shell: Innocence shows a world where cyborgs have abandoned their last bits of humanity and have become fully robotic.
Battle Angel Alita also includes some of the best cybernetic bodies — thanks to Cash907Censored for suggesting it.
In Dragonball Z movie 2, Dr. Willow dies, but he downloads his brain into a robot body.
The story "The Robot Who Came To Dinner" by Ron Goulart features a detective who's downloaded his brain into a robot body.
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