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Showing 1-3 of 3 reviews(3 star).show all reviews
on March 19, 2003
"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 on target. How far away are we really from the Earth that Marge Piercy describes? With the impending war with Iraq on our heels, maybe the 2 Week War of 2017 where a terrorist launched a nuclear device that destroyed the world as we know it, is not so futuristic after all.
"He, She and It" is a love story between Shira, a woman of the modern world and Yod, a cyborg. Piercy cleverly parallels the story of Shira and Yod with that of Chava and Joseph. Joseph, the golem of Prague's Jewish ghetto in the 15th century. Although the stories of Yod & Joseph are the heart of Piercy's novel, let me also share with you the technological perspectives.
In "He, She and It", Piercy describes some of the most amazing technological advances. The first and most astonishing of those is Yod, the cyborg. Yod looks just like a human, yet he has the power of a large bomb within him. What is even more surprising about Yod is that he has feelings and the ability to learn from social interactions. In other words, Yod can teach himself from experiencing the environment.
Piercy also mentions many other new technologies that come about after enclaves of monolithic corporations replace governments (is this really so far-fetched?). There is a new field, psychoengineering, an interface between people and large artificial intelligences. Shira is able to tell time simply by thinking that she needed to know what time it was and then reading the internal clock on the corner of her cornea in an eye that has retinal implants, used to correct hereditary myopia! She is also able to project into the worldwide Net (similar to what we know as virtual reality) through a "little silver socket at her temple."
Still, Piercy mentions more. Horsicles (horse robots), moving sidewalks, float cars and zips are the transportation modalities of the future. A main chore of this modern world is to protect their data from information pirates. While people may bodily protect themselves with resin knives with hypercharged particles that are able to cut through a diamond yet not show up on any sensor. The list goes on and on.
In conclusion, "He, She and It" is a wonderfully entertaining book about love, about loss, about the future of our planet. It has the ability to make those in the field of technology stop and take a look at what we are creating versus what we really want to create. Take a read yourself and discovery the vivid imagination of Piercy.
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on November 21, 2002
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 this subgenre are either much more direct, therefore not guilty of trying to slip misandry under the door, or focus more on the generalized positive aspects of woman rather than the generalized loathsomeness of man.
Anyway, the plot: in the future, the environment has been reduced to a wasteland, and corporations rule various scattered enclaves. Shira forsakes corporate control once she loses her son to her estranged husband, and returns to her roots: a Dome where the Jewish way of life endures and her family waits to take her in (not Israel--Israel is too radioactive for anybody at this point). Shira meets a cyborg named Yod, who has been illegally constructed and programmed by a brilliant but cold scientist named Avram and Shira's very own ramrod of a grandmother, Malkah. Sick of men, Shira becomes Yod's lover (later discovering she was not his first!), and becomes more and more involved with the politics of the Dome, as it is ever-threatened by outside forces. Yod, created as an ultimate weapon--weapon of defense, of course--has a side to his personality that Shira must learn to accept, but she does more than this when she decides to put Yod's violent capabilities to her own use, with consequences she could not foresee. Among the mix of characters are Gadi, Shira's old boyfriend, Josh, Shira's husband who has custody of their son, a no-nonsense woman warrior named Nili, and various corporate spies, assassins and villains. Meanwhile, every third chapter features Malkah relating the ancient tale of Prague's protector, The Golem, as he was said to exist in 1600. Of course, The Golem and his fable are presented as a parallel to Yod's existence, but the final fate's of each are somewhat different.
As a male reader, I did, at certain points, feel like abandoning the book--and not because it never really goes beyond the predictable, in terms of plot. It does suffer that problem; it is dramatic, but rather predictable. But the real unpalatable part for me was the negative depiction of all males anywhere. Women are virtuous, men are not. Women are gentle, men are not. Women can be trusted, men cannot. Faults found in women make them complex, well-rounded individuals, helping them down from the pedestal. Faults in men just show what's wrong with them overall, and are just another nail in the coffin. Yod's creator, Malkah--female--is responsible for the good in Yod. Yod's other creator, Avram--male--unlikeable, insensitive, cold, the ultimate negatively-drawn logical male scientist. Women have fifty different emotions, men have two. Women make sense. Men are the great mystery; they don't make sense.
So there. Further proof that a member of one gender can come up with a complete profile of the other gender and demonstrate that they have given up on trying to understand that gender, and just decide "this must be the truth". All I learned from that was that we are even less different than Marge Piercy would like to think.
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on June 9, 2004
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." Both evolve beyond "creature" or "robot" to become self-aware and fall in love with a human woman, and thus become so threatening that they are destroyed by the humans they seek to embrace. As a non-Jewish reader, I was inspired to look up the history of the golum in Jewish Kabbalah legends and surprised to find out that there is a statue of the legendary golum in Prague. The story stalls in the middle third as the same-old-love-story unfolds ... tediously. I would have liked more depth and detail on the various societies Piercy hints at in the future, expecially the great masses that survive in apparent anarchy in this post-apocalyptic world. The ending is too pat; why didn't Yod disappear into the Glop? Great concept, though.
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