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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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Product Description

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.

From Kirkus Reviews

Despite a contrived subject--the parallel adjustment problems of a 21st-century cyborg and a 17th-century golem--the latest from Piercy (Summer People, 1989; Gone to Soldiers, 1987) boils down to a gripping love story. Shira is a midlevel artificial-intelligence expert working for Yakamura-Siemens, a corporation-state. When she loses custody of her beloved son, she returns to their birthplace, a little enclave centered around the practice of Judaism, and accepts a job working for Avram, the father of her childhood lover. Avram has created an incredibly sophisticated robot that can pass for human. To counteract the violent tendencies that had marred his previous efforts, Avram enlisted Shira's grandmother Malkah to construct the robot Yod's human personality (i.e., to make ``him'' needy, emphatic, sexual). Intermixed with Shira's narrative are Malkah's messages to Yod, including an overlong didactic bedtime story about the creation of a golem in the Jewish ghetto of Prague--a golem who protected the community against deadly pogroms but who guaranteed his own demise by falling in love with a human woman. Y-S, the nasty conglomerate, wants Yod and tries to use Shira's love for her hostage son to get her to betray her community. But Shira has fallen in love with the robot. As the golem's tale foreshadows, many complications follow. Piercy's scattershot vision of the 21st century underwhelms, and all eyes will glaze over during the Prague interludes. But unlike her past efforts that have substituted overheated plotting for focus and character development, the latest fleshes out its heroine and creates a resonant evocation of love found and lost. An overwrought conceit, then, that has at its core an engaging story. -- Copyright ©1991, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
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