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He, She And It [Hardcover]

Marge Piercy
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Oct. 15 1991
"A triumph of the imagination. Rich, complex, impossible to put down."
Alice Hoffman
In the middle of the twenty-first century, life as we know it has changed for all time. Shira Shipman's marriage has broken up, and her young son has been taken from her by the corporation that runs her zone, so she has returned to Tikva, the Jewish free town where she grew up. There, she is welcomed by Malkah, the brilliant grandmother who raised her, and meets an extraordinary man who is not a man at all, but a unique cyborg implanted with intelligence, emotions--and the ability to kill....
From the imagination of Marge Piercy comes yet another stunning novel of morality and courage, a bold adventure of women, men, and the world of tomorrow.
--This text refers to the Mass Market Paperback edition.

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From Publishers Weekly

In this diverting tale of the 21st century, poet and novelist ( Summer People ) Piercy explores a world where information has become a commodity more precious than gold. When Shira Shipman, a "psychoengineer' (artificial intelligence expert) for a powerful corporation, loses her young son in a custody battle, she decides to leave the rigidly controlled confines of her Multi (one of 23 corporate city-states that divide the world) and head for Tikva, where she grew up. Seeking the comforts of home and hearth and maybe even some of Grandma's chicken soup, Shira finds instead that Tikva--one of the few remaining "free" towns unallied with a powerful corporation--is under attack from "information pirates" who are killing computer programmers for the knowledge in Tikva's mainframe. Soon enough, grandma Malkah, a brilliant, feisty programmer, enlists Shira's aid in protecting their hometown. Enter Yod, a cyborg created specifically for that purpose; before he can go out on patrols or mingle with the populace, however, he must be socialized and it is Shira's job to do so. There is no chicken soup in Tikva, but in Yod's arms Shira finds comfort aplenty. Intercut with Malkah's vignettes of a golem that protected the Jewish ghetto in 17th-century Prague, the human/cyborg love story in Piercy's vivid future world remains transcendent. 40,000 first printing.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

This is Piercy's first full-fledged foray into science fiction, although Woman on the Edge of Time ( LJ 6/1/76) flirted with the genre. In the 21st century the world has been ravaged by environmental disaster and war, with much of the populace living in corporate domes. Depressed over child custody problems with Josh, her ex-husband, Shira Shipman returns to her childhood home, one of the few free Jewish towns. There she falls in love with Yod, an illegal cyborg created to defend the town against attack. Filled with fantastic technological description, the plot zooms to a page-turning climax. A story of a golem in 17th-century Prague told by Shira's warmhearted grandmother mirrors the action. While not as visionary as Doris Lessing's "Canopus in Argos" novels, this projection of a world with a computer for a soul has the ring of reality. As usual, Piercy's women are strong and sympathetic. With the exception of Yod, her men are either frivolous or cold. Recommended. Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 6/1/91.
- Harriet Gottfried, NYPL
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars highly recommended March 24 1998
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Had this book not been a gift, I would never have thought to pick it up. Science fiction, Jewish mysticism; these are not subjects which immediately draw most people in. I'm eternally grateful I did give this book a chance, however, for it is definately one of the best books I have ever read. Weaving together two parallel stories, (the legend of a "Golem" created to protect the Jews in Prague's Jewish Ghetto in the 1600s, and the contemporary story of the cyborg Yod), Piercy has created a view of the future a la Margaret Atwood. Yet Piercy's view of the future, while almost as threatening as Atwood's in The Handmaid's Tale, contains the ever present spectre of redemption. While the characters in He, She, and It may live in a forebidding time when corporations rule the world, they maintain a level of autonomy over their own lives, and the knowledge and power to someday create a world more suited to freedom than that in which they currently reside. Piercy's book is fascinating on a number of levels. It is simultaneously the story of a mother's love for her child and the lengths she will go to when that relationship is threatened, a strong community and the familial, religious, and communal ties that bind a group of people together, a cautionary tale of corporate domination, a fascinating hypothesis of both the possibilities and dangers of modern technology, and above all, a romance. The elements of Jewish history and mysticism add to the excitement and passion of the book, enabling the parallel Piercy draws between the past and the future to flow naturally, and add to rather than detract from the book's clarity. Nor are the characters sacrificed for a well-developed plot. Piercy spends just as much time creating the characters who enable her story as she does on the story itself. Read more ›
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5.0 out of 5 stars Matrix Revisited March 12 2004
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This novel is fully science-fiction in genre (for Marge Piercy is not afraid to dabble in whatever style interests her, from historical fiction, to memoir, to sci-fi, to poetry.) And "He, She and It" has many elements found in "The Matrix" (but "He, She and It" came out way before "Matrix) You wonder if the makers of that hit film series owe Ms. Piercy an enormous monetary debt of gratitude.
The story centers around Shira, a bright young woman who makes a bad mistake; she marries the wrong man. Pigeonholed by the large "multi" (corporation) who bid for her services when she graduated, she's living on borrowed time in the safe but stifling domed city built by her multi to house the workers and managers against the perils of the polluted open lands and even more perillous decayed and overpopulated metropolis ("Glop" for short.)
Shira doesn't realize how short her time really is, and how soon she will be moving on, leaving behind her job, and much much, more of value to her. She moves home to one of the free cities on the seashore, deemed unsafe by virtue of severe weather (a gift of global warming.) She moves in with her grandmother and takes a job with Avram, a cybernetics expert. Avram has created a golem, a robot, a protector of the Jewish free city. Shira is hired to teach the robot, and develops a strange relationship with the creature, who, like Frankenstein's monster, is filled with both love and hate. Meanwhile, she must deal with her own past and past loves, and learn why she made bad decisions. Shira threads a path filled with dangers, but comes out stronger and wiser. Not without a high price, however.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Logically Bad Science Fiction April 20 2003
Format:Mass Market Paperback
One of the most astonishing things I found about Marge Piercy was that she had actually written science fiction before this. In all honesty, I would have bet serious money that she had had no contact with science since leaving high school.
At the time of this review, I am a fourth year computer science student at a major university. I have been online for the better part of a decade, and I know how computers and the people who use them work, at least to a whole order of magnitude more than the author.
Now, I will give credit where it´¿s due. Marge Piercy is a competent writer with good technical skill. Her characters of Shira (heroine, woman trying to find her way in the world), Malkah (mother), and Yod (android who slowly grows to be human over the course of the novel in a very fine transition) are all distinct and well fleshed out.
What aggravated me most is how totally and utterly...blind some of them were! UGG!!! There are several scenes were Shira, who recounts and describes things to the reader, does not see what is so plain and obvious and then reacts with surprise and horror when it finally dawns on her!! For example, she describes her mother to the reader, mentioning her mother´¿s predilection for remaining unattached and taking various partners to bed. This is a prominent point. Then she describes how ´¿close´¿ her mother seems to the android Yod and vice versa. And then reacts with shock several chapters later when she learns the two of them were sleeping together. I had been thinking ´¿She slept with the android´¿ after reading for aforementioned paragraphs. Really, it´¿s not Shira´¿s fault; she inherited it from her mother Malkah.
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Most recent customer reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars both historical fiction and sci-fi
This novel presents parallel stories of the Golum of Prague and the cyborg of the future, both "men" created to protect the societies in which they were "born. Read more
Published on June 9 2004 by katla
3.0 out of 5 stars He, She and It from a Technological Perspective
"He, She and It" is an intoxicating book about the future. From a technological perspective, the lives portrayed in the ultramodern societies of Tikva and the Y-S Enclave is right... Read more
Published on March 19 2003
3.0 out of 5 stars He, She And It
This one was tough-going for me because of all the anti-male propaganda slipped under the door. Normally I don't find feminist SF that hard to deal with, but my favourite novels in... Read more
Published on Nov. 21 2002 by sleeping sheepsnake
4.0 out of 5 stars only the ending prevents 5 stars
Marge Piercy doesn't do science fiction often. As with many writers who dip into that genre infrequently, it can be a toss up whether or not the next attempt will be good. Read more
Published on Oct. 17 2002 by TammyJo Eckhart
4.0 out of 5 stars A Different Twist
Marge Piercey's He, She, and It is a slightly different twist on the usual futuristic narrative of corporate control and artificial intelligence. Read more
Published on May 2 2002 by Laurie
5.0 out of 5 stars You don't have to be a science fiction fan
to enjoy this book. Piercy paints a picture of a corporate run world that is ravaged by pollution and crime. Only a few free cities remain. Read more
Published on March 30 2002
2.0 out of 5 stars Hard Reading
This book is a very hard book to follow. There are two stories going on at the same time, and it is hard to keep the information separate.
Published on Feb. 6 2002 by Lisa
4.0 out of 5 stars Great, but not her best
This is one of the most entertaining works of feminist speculative fiction I've read. Both story lines caught my interest and it was fascinating as the themes connected and added... Read more
Published on March 12 2001 by Christen Smith
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating, Fun and Full of Surprises
I asked a friend to suggest a book of the kind you can not put down. He suggested this one and trusting him I bought it - unwillingly, for it did not look like my kind of book at... Read more
Published on Dec 9 2000
4.0 out of 5 stars another dystopia
In Peircy's future world, the small Jewish town is threatened by the large corporate enclave. Peircy un-subtley compares this with the Jewish ghetto in Prague. Read more
Published on July 20 2000 by Amy Whinston
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