The Borgs: A Geekie quandary

So I’m at work yesterday, and I caught the last 20 min or so of that “Voyager” program. In this episode, the captain and some of her henchmen are planning a pop-in, steal the techno-dealie, pop-out style of mission to a borg’s ship. Watching this, I has a few questions about these borgs:

1: Why are there only humans “assimilated” on board? Are there no other aliens to take over anywhere else in space?

2: If these guys are so advanced technologically, why do they allow intruders to wander aimlessly through their ship without taking any steps to stop them until they are up to no good? Surely, waiting until after the damage has been done is counter-productive, is it not??

3: Is this “adaptation” of theirs some sort of psychic thing? Because they never seem to need to make any physical changes to any system to “adapt” it. One moment it’s vulnerable, the next it’s protected. Also, if one is killed, how does he transmit the information needed to adapt back to the rest? Killed=off. You can’t get information from something not transmitting it, so where does this adaptive information come from?

4: Can they run? Why this menacing, slow lurch towards any enemy?

5: If they build a defense against energy attacks, why doesn’t anyone ever beam one in the head with a pipe, or some sort of blunt instrument? They certainly don’t move fast enough to block anything from what I had seen, and it would impossible to develope a shield against a blunt object anyway, since walking or touching anything would be impossible with a preventative shield around you…

6: Saw the Borg Homeland: Just a huge spacestation of sorts. Where did the raw materials come from to build it? There doesn’t seem to be any planet nearby…

In reality, here’s what would happen in MY version of this Star Trek episode.

Captain and the crew would beam onto Borg ship armed with bats and wrenches, or other sharp/blunt objects. In a calm manner, they would go from floor to floor, beaning every borg they find right in the head. Borgs goes down, no longer transmitting their status (including what has just happened). Some others come to investigate the loss, and suffer a similar fate. Meanwhile, more crewmembers are beaming across with blunt instruments all over their ship, and talking them out left right and centre.
Since the borg are so damned slow, resistance is futile… Soon, each one of 'em has a new sunroof.
The crew all return to their own ship, except for a small party to plant the nuke to blow the crap out of the cube. They beam back, fly to a safe distance, press the shiny red button, and watch the fireworks…

So I guess that’s all I have for now… Just a few of the things I thought of in 20 min of Voyager the other day…

Wild stab at your questions:

  1. The Borg only seek out technology they can use. Which in the Trek universe, is limited to humanoids.

  2. As stated in previous Trek episodes, the Borg don’t see one or two people as threat to their thousands of drones. Apparently, they aren’t as bright as they thought since it’s happened several times.

  3. The changes are instantaneous due to the high number of drones who are probably scanning the situation when a drone is killed.

  4. They could probably run, but their overwhelming numbers when attacking eliminate the need to run.

  5. If the attacker is using blunt instruments, the others could analyze the attackers and alter the atmosphere and kill them.

  6. Probably the same way the Federation makes stuff, some sort of humongous replicator.

Three answers:

  • You do see other species sometimes.
  • 90% of Trek species are indistinguishable if you can’t see their foreheads.
  • They’re too cheap to even try to make them look alien.

The Borg are idiots with the tactical ability of a gerbil.

Adaptation is something that bugs me. Everyone adapts. A C20th tank is specifically adapted to kill other tanks, and have a good chance of surviving hits from other tanks. In Trek everyone’s adapting all the time, remodulating the phase converter to emit chocolate doo-dah waves. The Borg have the advantage that they’ve stolen loads of tech before, so have loads of options, and they’re able to alter their systems very quickly.

As to them suddenly becoming incredibly tough, I have a theory that they didn’t have the shields on at all at first. Do a quick calculation of the relative size of a Borg Cube and a Fed starship. It’s 3 or 4 orders of magnitude larger.

They only have to survive long enough to tell the others what they’re being attacked with. If they’ve seen it before, or stolen records of species using such weapons before, no problem. Cubes are pretty tough, so surviving for a while should normally be doable.

See 2.

See 2, exchange ‘Federation’ for ‘Borg’.

But really, with SF weapons ech hand to hand combat should not be a practical option (hell, with starships and transporters infantry combat shoud be very rare, let alone boarding), and, theoretically, a Tommygun should not be more impressive than their top-of-the-line sidearms. Again, see 2.

They felt like it. Shrug.

Personally I think the Borg are way overrated, they’re just scavangers, always wanting to meet civilisations with better tech from whom they can steal, but relying on such civilisations being too small to use that better tech to beat them. Voyager really made them look useless, with them being unable to do any research on their own, and Cubes repeatedly being done over by a tiny exploration starship.

In the episode I saw, they did not wear any breathing devices, so I assume that the borgs also breath the same atmosphere. Wouldn’t this affect them as well?

I thought about this after I posted it. In First Contact after the Earth is “Borgified”, Data states that the atmosphere is composed of “high concentrations of methane, carbon monoxide, and flourine” and the population is “…9,000,000,000. All Borg.”

This goes against previous encounters where the atmosphere on cubes is breathable by humans (and Klingons).

Another example of convoluted continuity.

IRL, though, this is just a concession on the part of the writers to give the Starfleet away teams some chance of success. I can see this working the first time, but not time after time. Chalk it up to the lazy, largely untalented, overpaid writers of Star Trek.

Again, this is something done for dramatic effect. Though it could be theorized that their equipment is so heavy or cumbersome that it limits their movements somewhat.

I don’t think an explanation so complicated is necessary. The Borg each have personal force fields. One could guess they simply operate like the force fields inside the Enterprise, stopping both energy and particle weapons. Or, at least they should after adaptation.

And in the same movie, we saw Borg standing outside the ship in a hard vacuum without any breathing devices whatsoever.

But when Picard opened up a can of whoop-ass on some drones with a Tommygun, it decimated them like a hot knife through butter. There’s some speculation that Borg shielding only works against frequency-based energy weapons… a phaser of a particular frequency can be countered by emitting a shield with the exact opposing frequency, nullifying it.

A steel pipe - or Tommygun bullets - don’t have frequencies to counter.

Not necessarily. The Borg have very capable healing abilities (Probably nano-probe augmented), allowing them to recover from injuries much faster than non-Borg. One episode featured a Borg drone, who had been left dead in a vacuum for a few years, being reactivated when his Cybernetic-systems were powered up again. (Phil Farrand, author of the nitpicker’s guides, theorized that the Drone’s Cybernetic systems were “marching around” the dead organic structures until it could be regenerated. Previous episodes mentioned that the Borg have internal “replicator” chips to provide their organic components with sustenance (Nutrients, etc.), I imagine this could supply oxygen to the bloodstream. And the aforementioned healing factor could probably cope with any injuries sustained from a toxic gas.
God, I’m pathetic.

Surprised I forgot to mention this. Presumably, it had been a while since anyone shot a bullet at a Borg, so it’s conceivable they were decimated because the Borg hadn’t until then needed to adapt to particle weapons.

Even if Borg shielding works only against energy weapons, it doesn’t make sense (given the Borg’s nature) that they’d never adapt to defend against particle weapons (if they lost enough drones, that is).

But I hate having to look to examples from the show or movies for evidence…Star Trek has some of the most convoluted storylines in sci-fi.

If they did, they’d probably come with some sort of “instant Kevlar”.

Well, that outer shell that most Borg has looks like it could double as a pretty good armor… except that, well, good ol’ Tommygun bullets pumped through it. One could argue that the gun in First Contact was more powerful than a real-life one, I guess… although that doesn’t make sense in and of itself.

Let’s face it, the Borg kept getting less and less cool immediately after they were first introduced.

The dylithiam matrix is flooded with gamma-gozer waves, so we just need to lock the stabalizorama to the nth degree…

Carry on, Chief Riff.

One of the major problems with the Borg is that every single episode (except the first one) contradicted some earlier element.
[li]Borg only want technology. They have no individuality.[/li][li]No, wait! They want to assimilate populations. “I am Locutus.” Data is relatively obsolete. Seperating an individual from the collective is a major operation.[/li][li]No, wait! If you capture an individual, he/she will eventually de-assimilate: “I am Hugh.”[/li][li]No, wait! Lore, identical to Data, is not so obsolete he can’t take control of a disorganized Borg enclave.[/li][li]The collective has a Queen?![/li][/ul]

And so on through Voyager. Like Q, the Borg was a flexible concept twisted to fit whatever a particular writer needed. It makes for poor consistancy. They needed a single writer to “champion” the Borg and create a guide with consistant and interesting elements that could be gradually revealed. After a while, it became obvious they were working without any real plan and just threw in the Borg as a means to amortize their investment in props and costumes.

True dat. In fact, part of the appeal of the Borg was their mystery. Even their ship design - a simple cube - was a statement in itself. But once the show started explaining the whole process, methods for getting around their attacks, etc., the Borg just started going downhill. Lack of coherency didn’t help either.

The Borg were okay until Hugh, but that was an abberation. They were really ruined by Voyager, however.

Yeah. I used to think the Borg were the coolest aliens ever. Now I think it’s the Breen. Why? Because no one knows anything about them, other than they have cool weapons and wear cool suits for some reasons we can’t fathom.

well, they don’t breathe, however if their biological makeup was distroyed then they could not function. in other words because they are cyborg, with out the living tissue they assimilated, they would die.

As I understand it they are all constantly connected. All thoughts are had as one. So if one thinks “Oh this guy just raised his blaster to shoot me.” that thought immediately begins to propagate outwards until every Borg unit has the thought. So each individual is essentially the same and there’s no data loss if one or a hundred dies.

Well, apparently it’s a temperature thing:

But yeah, Breen are cool :). Insofar as anything from star trek is. With the sole exception of DS9, and even that I’m not too fond of, Star Trek is generally quite bad IMO. (Maybe not enterprise, but I’ve only seen one episode.)

Oh yeah, and a ‘me too’. The Borg are really quite bad. For a race X million times more advanced than the humans, voyager seems to be able to beat them with almost routine ease. Not to mention all the other random problems…

Global warming run amok? If so, it would explain why there’s no Borg homeworld - they polluted it so much that it became uninhabitable.