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The Fantastic Adventures of No-body: Mechanisms of cyborg disembodiment in five texts by women authors


  • Meryl Trussler

Summary, in English

Science fiction is a genre in which anything is possible. It therefore comprises the perfect litmus test of any given culture’s prevailing hopes and fears about the future. One such source of anxiety that has been particularly conspicuous in works of fiction since the Industrial Revolution is the development of automata and other machines – specifically, whether they might eventually become strong or intelligent enough to overthrow their creators. As elucidated in this essay, fears about some sort of robot uprising fit into a more general worry among dominant groups about a reversal of fates between them and an oppressed group. The cyborg character, however, complicates this formula because it is a hybrid of human and machine, a boundary figure. This is a clear, perhaps uncomfortable reminder that the Other is also the Same.
This thesis will examine five key examples from the last five decades of literature about cyborgs, namely: The Ship Who Sang by Anne McCaffrey; ‘The Girl Who Was Plugged In’ by James Tiptree Jr.; Proxies by Laura J Mixon; ‘Silently and Very Fast’ by Catherynne M Valente; and Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie. These texts will be combed through for examples of the ways in which cyborgs might disrupt binary understandings of identity and thereby challenge real-life social hierarchies. Most important to this investigation is the potential of cyborg disembodiment – that is, any kind of cybernetic separation of the consciousness from an organic body – to confuse how identities are perceived and constructed.


Publishing year




Document type

Student publication for Master's degree (two years)


  • Languages and Literatures


  • Catherynne M Valente
  • Anne McCaffrey
  • Ann Leckie
  • Laura J Mixon
  • James Tiptree Jr.
  • cyborgs
  • cyborg feminism
  • cyberfeminism
  • Donna Haraway
  • science fiction
  • embodiment
  • disembodiment


  • Ellen Turner