What makes the Borg so scary?
c 2001, Rory Cargill

     The other evening I was watching an episode of Voyager where Seven meets up with three fellow ex-Borg. Several flashbacks and a tip of the hat to Hannibal Lecter later, I was left with the feeling that the Borg were profoundly sad. For all their amazingly superior technology and near-invincible military might, they end up as little more than dull, emotionless zombies. OK, maybe that was the intended spin on that particular episode, but...

  • That pallid 'Goth' look.
  • Their H.R. Geiger rip-off outfits.
  • Their no-fun zombie lifestyle.
  • Their ridiculously OTT cyborg body modifications that make Eddie Scissorhands look like a Teletubbie.
  • The way they endlessly drone on about assimilating all comers. It's nearly as bad as the Daleks' anthem: "Exterminate, exterminate, exterminate".

     So Star Trek gets its school-bully fascist baddies; the Cardassians, its egomaniac swanky-showoff baddies; the Dominion with their Jem Hadar attack slaves, and its sad-sack no-one-loves-me baddies; the Borg. The first two are easy enough to understand, after all we've got plenty of historical precedent of those types here on Earth. But the Borg? They're the cult from hell: Jonestown, Waco, Communist Albania, North Korea with a soupcon of the Moonies, the Jesus Army and a sordid little suicide pact whisked in for good measure.
     It's easy to imagine the Cardassians getting drunk, having parties, being late for work, etc., etc. The Dominion shapeshifters get their kicks wowing their lower orders (at least that's as much as I've been able to make out about them). They have emotions whereas the Borg seem to suffer from a collective lobotomy. Someone ought to pump their cubes full of hardcore techno (it would go nicely with their image!), ecstasy and LSD. A job for an enterprising Ferengi, perhaps? The only Borg I ever saw smiling was their sexy little queen when she was putting the make on Data. A hot enough babe for the Borg to launch thousands of ships!
     Here's where I put on Q's hat... "Oh, those pathetic little Borg. Look at them, running here and there assimilating new species as fast as their little cubes can carry them. All they really want is to have friends and to be loved. But they're so deeply afraid. Afraid of rejection. And it's so much worse than annihilation. If you're dead, you no longer know how much your enemy despised you. You're spared that fate. But when you're alive, the pain of rejection will eat away at you until your life is no longer worth living."
     In the Borg I see the total loss of individuality, volition and emotion. Possibly even the loss of awareness. Are they aware of themselves or are they extensions of their collective? All these are things we humans hold as being prerequisite for our own individual unique existences without which we would be as good as dead. And that's the Borg, Star Trek's very own living dead. Whoops, a bit of trans-genre cross-pollination, there! Funny old world, Sci-Fi.
     What they need is fun! Or, as Kryten would put it: 'A frivolous use of time for no constructive purpose whatsoever'. Give them a few party hats a karaoke kit and a sense of fun. Who knows, they might even find a whole new purpose in life.

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