In Dalton Trumbo’s 1939 WWI novel, Johnny Got His Gun, the main character has lost his arms, legs, eyes, nose, ears, tongue, both jaws and all of his face — but his mind still functioned perfectly. He is still who he is, he just doesn’t have his body anymore which suggests that our bodies are not essential to our self-consciousness or self awareness.
Rene` Descartes philosophical principle, I think, therefore I am" could also be interpreted as,“ I think because I have a brain, therefore I am because I have a brain. Or, I am my brain, and my brain is me.
If that is true then the notion that the brain can be detached from the body and transferred into a synthetic body without the loss of the self is more than just science fiction. In fact the idea of a human brain being transferred into a mechanical body is closer to reality than it might seem. Science has already made much headway in that direction. For example, humans are now fitted with artificial heart pacemaker and an assortment of artificial limbs. This combination of human and machine is called a Cyborg. A Cyborg is an organism that has both artificial and natural systems and is an idea that has been around in novels back before WWII. In 1908 a French novelist wrote a novel, The Man Who Can Live in Water, in which the superhero was a Cyborg. Also C. L. Moore’s 1944 short story, “No Woman Born” was about a dancer whose brain was placed into a mechanical body. There have been a number of other books written on the subject as well, including, the Book of Ob.
The Book of OB is set in the future in another galaxy where the transfer of brains into mechanical bodies is common place. The entire planet of Zimmnel for example is populated by Cyborgs. They are not the same Cyborg terminators as portrayed in the film The Terminator. The Terminators were a group of aggressive, violent Cyborgs bent on destroying other planets and human life. The Zimmnellians, who call themselves, “electro-people”, are quite the opposite. Their large, peaceful planet is in a galaxy where humanoids and Cyborgs co-exist. The Zimmnel electro-people do not travel around the universe trying to destroy or conquer other planets; instead they try to bring peace and stability to the universe.
In this story we journey to a small organic planet called OB where our main character, Kenom Ornam and his friend Enew are spending a few weeks as planet patrolmen in an obsolete war dome owned by humanoids from the planet Flexton. They must share the dome with the humanoid Flextons along with electro-people from planet Verton as well as fellow Zinmellians. To complicate matters they are not allowed to disclose that they are electro-people for fear it will frighten the humanoids and cause instability on the planet. This is cause for some deception, but for the most part it is a harmless charade where no one gets hurt.
Kenom asks to be stationed in a remote area of the dome hoping he will be able to relax, think and observe the beauty of the primitive vegetation on this planet. But things get complicated as two religious factions within the dome begin to face off. Kenom is reluctantly put in a position of authority where he is forced to arbitrate to keep things from getting out of hand.
Because Kenom is a non-aggressive Cyborg from a peaceful planet and by nature a peaceful non-violent person, he tries to find peaceful ways to solve problems. Moral lessons are learned on the planet Ob as he comingles with brains of various power levels, some with belief systems quite different than his own.