This is the first of two essays commissioned by James “patron of the arts” Baker, who has asked for five hundred words each from me and Bobsy. James wants me to talk about what Daleks mean to me.

It’s a difficult one, actually, because I grew up in the 1980s, when the Daleks were mostly being used for their recognisability, but being written by a writer, Eric Saward, who would much rather have been writing Cybermen stories. So while the standard iconography of the Daleks tends towards a combination of fascism and Frank Hampson space adventure, for me, the Daleks are all about body horror. The formative Dalek story for me was Remembrance of the Daleks, and so I think of humans being turned into Daleks, of Davros reduced just to a head, of dead bodies being processed for food.

So taking everything together, the Daleks for me, more than anything else, represent the dissociation from the body. They’re the logical end-point of the Mekon, who Davros is clearly based on — the hypertrophied head and atrophied body turning into something that only has a vestigial organic form, more machine than person.

They’re the logical end point of technocracy, of the technolibertarian mentality that disdains the body (a mentality to which I have all too strong an emotional sympathy, being as I am someone with a very ambiguous relationship with my own body). There’s a strong link between technolibertarianism and the kind of neoreactionary fuckwits who want to see a return to hereditary dictatorships, and who argue for “racial realism”. There’s nothing intrinsically wrong with the ideas of “uploading” or techno-utopianism, but the people who advocate for this do so far more because of an emotional reaction against the body, mostly because they associate the physical with “jocks”, than because of any actual intellectual considerations.

This is one of the few things that Moffat gets right in the most recent series-opening two-parter. For all that he doesn’t understand the character of the Doctor, he *does* understand the Daleks. The human trapped inside the metal shell, unable to express any ideas other than pure hatred, unable to let its real feelings out and reduced to communicating in catchphrases. Fascism as the ultimate end-game of libertarianism. Freedom to conform however you want to.

So, fundamentally, Daleks are the ultimate expression of a tendency in thought that dates back to Plato, via St Paul, through to people like Robin Hanson today. They’re dualism made flesh-and-dalekanium. They’re the triumph, not of the will, but of the nerd.

Dislike of the unlike. “If you want to help the poor you should teach them to code”. The body made into yet another disposable commodity. Uber, but for death-dealing sentient tanks.

When you look at the future, the future is a software engineer, screaming “exterminate” out of pure disgust at his own body, forever.

And as an addendum, Kieron “Mr Thought Bubble” Gillen has commissioned us for one hundred and thirty-two words on The Cleaner, by Fraser Geesin. How can one sum up a comic like The Cleaner in such a small number of words? Kieron’s own back-cover quote did a decent job, but if I quoted that there would be no room for my own words.
Suffice it to say that The Cleaner, with its true tales of domestic drudgery, is the comic that Eddie Campbell would have written and drawn, if he was as witty as Gary Lactus himself, and if he had worked as a cleaner in Brighton, and if he was Gary Lactus. It’s clever, and funny, and sad, and the perfect summation of the world of work.

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