On Battlestar Galactica

The Face in the Mirror

Issues of Meat and Machine in Battlestar Galactica
By Natasha Giardina

We look at ourselves in the mirror and what we see is reassuring. We are human, organic. Our faces bear the tangible evidence of our natures, complete with hair, secretions, skin flakes, scars, and wrinkles. We are born, not made; things of flesh and blood, not cogs and wheels. We are the real thing; we are authentic.

I write this essay on a laptop in a Wi-Fi zone, connected to the Internet via radio transmitters and satellite dishes. As I type, pressing the buttons that turn my thoughts into code, windows pop up on the periphery of the screen–friends online sensing my virtual presence and wanting to chat. I stop my essay in midstream to touch base with them, keeping up to date with their latest news, shooting them long-requested photos of my last overseas holiday. I muse nostalgically through the photos, relieved that their perfect digital record can bolster my all-toofragile memories. Eventually, I finish my work for the day and shut my laptop down. As the screen goes black, the surface catches light from the setting sun, and I glimpse my own face in the mirror. That’s me–on, in, and a part of the computer–I am the real thing; I am authentic. Of course I am (not reassured).

Since 2003, Battlestar Galactica has prompted us to think about ourselves and our relationships with technology in new ways. The series rests on a strong science fictional foundation, its literary genealogy a clear line from Frankenstein to Metropolis, to The Terminator, Blade  …

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