Five or Six weeks into the course, Hayles’ opening comment that first-wave cybernetics conveys that “boundaries of the human subject are constructed rather than given” (84). In Never Let Me Go the characters had completely conformed to the strangling society that they couldn’t escape from; in The Stone Gods the boundaries that Billie saw as defining what a human was were constantly being questioned by the reader as simple constructions that were prevalent in society; and in Oryx and Crake, Snowman seems bound to the humanity that has been built around him.
I bring these evident ideals up as an introduction into my interest in Hayles’ comment from later in the chapter that delves into the fact that “the ultimate horror is for the rigid machine to absorb the human being, co-opting flexibility that is the human birthright” (105). This directly relates to The Stone God’s Billie in the fact that she constantly throughout the novel cannot admit that her robot companion is a human, despite the fact that Spike learns to exemplify some fundamentally human characteristics.
This quote also brought to mind Battlestar Galactica. Every single human in the series, besides the doctor (who has some serious problems of his own), does not think of the cylons as human. The fact that the cylons look so much like humans and the fact that they can even disguise themselves as them are direct breaches of the “flexibility that is the human birthright” (105). The more episodes I watch, the more often I hear the phrase, “but the cylons are not human” when they act as such or when they prove to have successfully implanted themselves into the human ships (Aaron Doral comes to mind here). Early in the series, when Starbuck is interrogating Leoben, she constantly tries to break down his defenses by reminding him that he cannot feel and that he does not embody other human-like features. Starbucks insensitive again arrises in the fifteenth episode of the second season, Scar, when she is talking with Sharon. Sharon has an emotional connection with Starbuck, reminiscing their history aboard the ship together, and there is an evident physical reaction from Starbuck. Although it is evident, when Sharon reached over to comfort Starbuck and establish a common physical human connection, the guards react by drawing their weapons. This is a direct example of what Hayles is explaining.