how to survive a cylon uprising


There’s been a lot of talk about Battlestar Galactica  and its shiny metal co-stars of late, and it’s all coming to a head on Friday (June 12) when the 92nd street Y in Manhattan hosts a panel entitled  Battlestar Galactica: Cyborgs on the Horizon.   The discussion will feature several cast members from BSG as well as real live roboticists all trying to answer the question “is the robot uprising that will spell doom for us all inevitable?”   Galactica Sitrep has two interviews with experts in the field who naively believe that a robot rebellion is about as likely as a reboot of Galactica 1980.   While it’s all fine and dandy to play Mr. Optimist and dismiss the repeated warnings of our favorite movies and TV shows, one question begs to be asked – what do we do if they’re wrong?   Luckily for all of us, I’ve got the answer.

After consulting with my very own robotics expert (author and Carnegie Melon Ph.D. Daniel H. Wilson), it seems clear that only a fool would ignore the ever- increasing signs of robot disharmony.  In his book, How to Survive A Robot Uprising, Mr. Wilson makes no bones about it:


If popular culture has taught us anything, it is that someday mankind must face and destroy the growing robot menace.

In print and on the big screen we have been deluged with scenarios of robot malfunction, misuse, and outright rebellion. Robots have descended on us from outer space, escaped from top-secret laboratories, and even traveled back in time to destroy us.

Today, scientists are working hard to bring these artificial creations to life. In Japan, fuzzy little real robots are delivering much appreciated hug therapy to the elderly. Children are frolicking with smiling robot toys.

It all seems so innocuous. And yet how could so many Hollywood scripts be wrong?

So take no chances. Arm yourself with expert knowledge. For the sake of humanity, listen to serious advice from real robotics experts. How else will you survive the inevitable future in which robots rebel against their human masters?


Sobering stuff, no doubt.  But when the robots do turn on us, can we protect ourselves?  Does Mr. Smarty Pants have any real, useful info on what t0 do if our vacum cleaner suddenly goes all ninja on us?  Rest assured, Dr. Wilson has done his homework, as evidenced by this small excerpt which suggests a plan of action when confronted by a metal foe :



Sensors are by far the most vulnerable, exposed parts of any robot. Destroy or disable outward-facing sensors such as cameras. A handful of dirt, mud, or water will suffice. It is hard for a robot to wipe mud from its eyes when it has whirring buzz saws for hands.


To consider the alternative, imagine getting your hair caught in the garbage disposal.


Unless you can punch through sheet metal.


Your pathetic human hands are useless here. Choose a blunt or pointed instrument (serrated edges don’t work against metal or durable plastic). Even a simple crowbar can save your life – you can run away while the robot condescendingly bends it into a pretzel shape.


A humanoid robot can block (or throw) a punch about twice as fast as a human black belt can. In comparison, the typical inebriated human brawler doesn’t have a fighting chance.


Pretend that you just lit the fuse on a cheap Chinese firecracker the size of a dog house



Cylon_headSure, Wilson’s book is an invaluable tool for teaching us how to cope with a generic, run-of-the-mill robot revolution, but what do we do when the world of Battlestar Galactica  becomes reality and the Cylons  rebel?  How do we defend ourselves against chrome-plated, red-eyed monstrosities, enemy fighters that think and robots that look like us?  Luckily for Darth Mojo readers, the good doctor put on his thinking cap, sharpened his pencil and scribbled down some must-have notes for the day when the phrase “By Your Command”  makes the transition from fantasy to fact…



How to Survive Battlestar Galactica:  Tips on Surviving Cylon Encounters

by Daniel H. Wilson (author of How to Survive a Robot Uprising)


In the world of Battlestar Galactica, human beings have sadly neglected their faithful robot servants and, as a result, have been decimated by a massive robot uprising on their homeworld of Caprica. Life must go on, however, even post-robot uprising. Therefore, in a spirit of helpfulness and support I have assembled a few key tips on surviving Cylon encounters. Enjoy, and good luck out there!


Most robots are misunderstood and do not start out as innately violent beings. Before they decide to attack, they must first judge humankind as unworthy. So, as a sentient being, try to set a good example. Don’t hit your servant robot, call it names, or force it to wear silly outfits. In many ways, Cylons are like gullible, rosy-cheeked little children – except with lethal cannon-arms and cold emotionless hearts of battle-hardened steel.


If a rapidly evolving race of aggressive robotic creatures rebel and disappear into space for forty years, be sure to assign a person to follow them. This way, you can ensure that they aren’t lurking in the empty wastes of the interstellar void, building a massive, glinting robot army bent on the complete eradication of humankind. Heck, go ahead and assign two people.


Cylon robots come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Identifying the correct Cylon can greatly affect your chances of survival (or of getting laid). Typically, they come in three forms:

1) Humanoids: These thousands of robots look and act just like people, although they are all inexplicably copied from only a handful of likenesses. (I mean c’mon, nobody decides to get a tattoo?)

2) Centurions: Hulking, shiny robotic bipeds who clank like steam engines when they walk. Watch for the blinding reflection of the sun on metal and for empty cases of armor polish.

3) Raiders:Living space fighters form the Cylon fleet. A characteristic curved wing and pulsing red visor make these robots easy to spot. Also, they’ll be shooting at you and you will be in outer space.

Humanoids: Don’t shoot first – ask questions now.

Humanoid Cylons have their own feelings and emotions, and they don’t always obey orders. Instead of attacking immediately, why not descend into a psychological cat and mouse game that may span years and culminate with you learning an important lesson about yourself and the nature of humanity?

Centurions: Watch for the pulsing red light.

Cylon troopers are less intelligent than their humanoid friends and they tend to be easy to spot, thanks to the glowing red light that constantly pulses in their battle visors. Remember: One pulse means you’ve got a friendly robot just here to say “howdy do.” Two pulses mean you are about to be eviscerated. You won’t see three pulses.

Raiders: Go for the brain.

These living vehicles seem to be about as intelligent as horses – magical space horses that careen through asteroid fields spraying bullets at enemy fighters. However, every space horse has a vulnerable brain beneath its armored façade. Blow that part up. Alternately, climb inside and start yanking on ganglia. In the best case scenario, you may learn to “fly” the enemy ship. In the worst case, you’ll have become a human-sized robot lobotomy kit.



Ultimately, you have to ask yourself: “Am I a Cylon sleeper agent?” Ninety nine out of a hundred sentient beings in the universe are, so the answer is probably yes. Watch for these tell-tale signs:

• You can’t listen to Bob Dylan without wishing for more sitar.

• The vacuum of space has a certain “briskness” that you enjoy.

• You occasionally wake from a trance to find yourself staring intensely at your own reflection in a dark bathroom mirror and wondering who you really are and whether you’re going to accidentally hurt the ones you love.

• You can pick up a vending machine and throw it across the room. 

• When handling high-explosives around delicate humans, your hands inexplicably go all “butter-fingery.”

• You have an irresistible desire to run your fingers through Dr. Gaius Baltar’s hair.




Well, there you have it!  Between his book and these new pointers, I’d say every last “puny” human is prepared for the events that those other “experts” tell us will never happen.  Didn’t their mothers teach them that it’s better to be safe than sorry?

Speaking of which, do yourself and your loved ones a favor, click over to Amazon and buy Daniel’s book – it’s the least we can do to thank him for lending his time to solving the Cylon problem and to make sure you’re briefed on every possible cybernetic scenario.  Just make sure you keep it out of sight from your toaster…



——————- WOULD YOU LIKE TO KNOW MORE? ——————–

Click here to learn more about the book and read additional excerpts

And clicking this will take you to the good doctor’s home page

14 Responses to “how to survive a cylon uprising”

  1. 1 Buckaroohawk
    June 8, 2009 at 7:40 am

    This book sounds like the perfect companion to Max Brooks’ “Zombie Survival Guide.” And since it’s clear that one (or, egads, both!) of these scenarios will most certainly spell the end of our civilization, these books should be on every self-respecting human’s Must Read list.

  2. June 8, 2009 at 8:20 am

    “Irresistible desire to run your fingers through Dr. Gaius Baltar’s hair?” Aw, crap.

  3. 3 Snafu
    June 8, 2009 at 12:10 pm

    Ponies. Raiders are like magical space ponies (and they deserve their own cuteoverload.com entries, the poor things :D)

  4. 4 Anonymous
    June 8, 2009 at 12:20 pm

    I’m afraid I agree with the experts on this one… a robot uprising is highly unlikely. A zombie uprising, on the other hand… now THAT is something you should be worried about.

  5. 5 Colonial Warrior
    June 8, 2009 at 9:13 pm

    I’ve been training for the impending zombie invasion for a few months now in Left 4 Dead. Some say it’s just a game but it’s real, honest the Zombies are going to come. This training includes working in a group environment, how to administer 1st aid, and of course how to take out unruly persons that will get your group killed. George Romero has known about this for quite some time and has used his resources to educate the public on just what to do when the time comes. Don’t burn them just shoot them in the head it’s the only ( pardon the pun) sure fire way to kill them. Robots are easy to take down, one good emp burst and just go in and mop up. Try using an emp burst on a zombie, better make sure your stocked up on alot of ammo.

    Saving the world… yada yada yada..

    ( ok who actually thinks that was real.. )

    hmmm… ok..

  6. 6 The Lobby Lurker
    June 8, 2009 at 9:32 pm

    I am fully prepared for Zombies, thanks to the great Max Brooks book.

    Now, I am also ready to kick some tin can ass, should the need arise. Thanks for the helpful info there, Mojo. Very useful information on spotting the baddies and making them your metal beeyotches.

    Now all we need is a good resource on successfully fighting alien races, killer tomatoes and other plants, and the psychics/psionics/scanners.

    Oh, and those pesky mutants and Evil Scientists, too. :)

  7. June 9, 2009 at 6:18 am

    I think the most likely scenario is that one uprising will happen before the other. If we play our cards right, it will be the robots… so we will have time to have William Shatner convince the leader of the robot rebellion that we truly have more in common than we thought… and that we should join forces against the real menace… the zombies. And vampires.

  8. 8 _pole
    June 9, 2009 at 6:54 am

    Thanks! I peed my pants.

    Not sure if it was out of fear or amusement.

  9. 9 Tess
    June 9, 2009 at 6:41 pm

    Aw man- I was doing pretty well on the “Are You A Cylon” checklist until that last one. And here I thought I was a puny human…

  10. 10 Buckaroohawk
    June 9, 2009 at 7:09 pm

    Daren (#7),

    Now you’ve done it. You tossed vampires into the mix. Once the werewolves hear about this, they’re going to want a piece of the action, too.

    We’re doomed. All of us. Doomed.

  11. 11 Neal_with_an_"a"
    June 10, 2009 at 11:09 am

    Here’s a pretty good video on a related topic. Note: NSFW (unless you’re lucky enough to work in a brewery like I do!)


  12. 12 Boris
    June 14, 2009 at 11:48 am

    Hmm….there is nothing wrong with a reboot of Galactica 1980. For one, the obvious solution would involve tracking the fates of humans and Cylons across various continents, 150,000 years ago. Some would die off as a consequence of not even trying to maintain their tech level; others may rebel against this idea and try to recreate as much of their tech as possible. Some would mate with humans on Earth and become part of their tribes.

    Or, if you want to keep it in the present, what if the friendly Cylon baseship were to arrive on Earth in the year 2012 or so, having survived 150,000 years? What happens to the world as we know it because of the sudden increase in tech level and the knowledge of what happened to the Twelve Colonies and the Cylons? Perhaps they decide to travel back to the Twelve Colonies and see what they look like 150,000 years later. What if some of the Colonists survived, possibly due to the interference of the head beings?

    There is a lot of potential in the new BSG universe, and I hope it doesn’t end with “Caprica”.

  13. 13 JessIAm
    July 26, 2009 at 5:49 pm

    This is inspired! I love your list.

    You know, they have groups of people all over the country who are preparing for the zombie uprising… Maybe they need to upgrade their menace!

  14. 14 Pegasus33
    December 23, 2009 at 6:18 pm

    I am not one of the first people to say this.
    I was very close to thinking that I could defect to the human side if I was a cylon. Then I had to use “System Restore” on my computer, a horrible resolution hit me.

    If I was a cylon, my emotions, personality, strength restriction, memory and morals are an operating system (like Windows 98). To install Windows 98 (Personality/Emotions), you have to install MS-DOS (Basic Cylon Programming) first. So underlying my easy-going, philosophical, nurturing exterior, there might be basic cylon programming that would turrn me into a murderous, cold-blooded killer that could bend steel beams in half. Scary thought. All we would have to wait for is the signal to boot from DOS (Murderous Cylon) rather than Win 98 (Ourselves), who might even destroy the person we love the most! God if 99/100 people ARE cylons, I’m in deep trouble.


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June 2009

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