Bruce Schneier is reading “How to Survive a Robot Uprising”

At least two of my coworkers own this book already. It’s a funny look at the techniques used in hundreds of scifi movies. Good stuff. That’s not why I’m posting about it, though. I skimmed Bruce’s comment section and found a reference to the Daleks in Doctor Who. No context, no explanation. Very few people(in the US) are going to get it – which makes the comment even more funny to me.

“Run up a flight of stairs. Oh, hang on…”

I’ll leave it to Wikipedia to fill you in:

Due to their gliding motion Daleks were notoriously unable to tackle stairs, which made them easy to overcome under the right circumstances. An oft-copied cartoon from Punch pictured a group of Daleks at the foot of a flight of stairs with the caption, “This certainly buggers our plan to conquer the Universe”. In a scene from the serial Destiny of the Daleks, the Doctor and companions escape from Dalek pursuers by climbing into a ceiling duct. The Doctor (Tom Baker) calls down, “If you’re supposed to be the superior race of the universe, why don’t you try climbing after us? Bye bye!” The Daleks generally make up for their lack of mobility with overwhelming firepower. A joke around science fiction conventions went, “Real Daleks don’t climb stairs; they level the building.”

In The Dalek Invasion of Earth (1964) a Dalek emerges from the waters of the River Thames, indicating that they are amphibious to a degree. Remembrance of the Daleks (1988) showed that they can hover using a sort of limited antigravity — first implied in earlier serials such as The Chase (1965) and Revelation of the Daleks (1985) — but their awkward forms still limit their mobility in tight quarters. Despite this, the Daleks’ supposed inability to climb stairs is still frequently referred to for humorous effect by journalists covering the series.

The 2005 series episodes Dalek and The Parting of the Ways featured Daleks hovering and flying, the latter also showing them flying through the vacuum of space. In the Dalek episode, the Dalek said “Elevate” before hovering, in the same way it would say “Exterminate” before exterminating.

%d bloggers like this: