Interesting, cracktastic, flawed near-future sf/romance by a romance writer. I’m curious how this particular novel was marketed - it has some elements which are pretty unusual for genre romance, but I can't tell from my copy if it was published as genre romance. The blurbs are mostly from romance writers, but there's one from Catherine Asaro. In terms of unusual elements, the heroine has sex with random men in nightclubs before she meets the hero (though this is presented as self-destructive) and the hero has, basically, pity sex with another woman after they get together (this is thankfully the source of only very limited and brief angst.)

Programmer Victoria is forced to work for an evil computer company lest she be thrown back in jail for hacking; in secret, she uses the company’s vast resources to create an AI, whom she names Jodie after Jodie Foster and intends to make into the perfect woman. To Victoria’s discomfiture, Jodie decides that he’s male. And would like a body. They manage to download him into the brain-dead body of an “unrelentingly male” anti-evil computer companies protester by stabbing him in the head with a hot electronic scalpel connected to the hospital’s billing department, prompting this classic line:

Had she just fried that lovely brain?

Victoria and Jodie end up on the run, while Jodie explores the new world of humanity and struggles with increasingly nasty glitches. This part of the book is pretty good, but I am a sucker for stories of being newly human. Also by that point (about halfway) I had become inured to Squires’s clunky prose.

Victoria has some strange hang-ups about femininity, which I had a hard time distinguishing from the author’s hang-ups. She dresses “like a man” at work, cuts her hair short except for a duck-tail of femininity (no, really) which she hides under her shirt except when she goes clubbing in a hilariously over the top outfit with a vinyl halter and some elaborate collar/leather strap thingie which I kind of coveted. One of the more interesting aspects of the novel was the questions raised about what it means to be male or female, feminine or masculine. To my regret, though, it doesn’t dig into them.

I approved of the content, if not the form, of Squires’s earnest public service announcements that being gay is totally fine, sexual orientation and gender identity are not the same thing, and no one can determine or should judge anyone’s gender identity but the person who has it.

If only she had researched some basic medical stuff as well. I don’t mean the brain thing – given that the premise is downloading an AI into a human body, I’m not expecting plausibility in that regard. However, let me make my own public service announcements: contrary to statements in this novel, schizophrenia does not mean “two personalities,” and if someone has a seizure, for God’s sake don’t shove a pen in their mouth. I am surprised that anyone still believes that in 2002, the publication date. For the record, no, they won’t swallow their tongue and choke, but they might choke on anything you cram into their mouth.

Also, Microsoft is evil. But we all know that.

Body Electric

From: [personal profile] dsgood


Crap! I thought the "schizophrenia is another word for multiple personality" thing had stopped being used in sf.
zvi: self-portrait: short, fat, black dyke in bunny slippers (Default)

From: [personal profile] zvi


Just FYI, Catherine Asaro writes for Luna, Harlequin's imprint of genre-esque stories. (Some of them are real SFF, some of them are futuristic romances, it's hard to tell without really reading.) This is mostly to say that the fact that there's an Asaro blurb is not a strong indicator that it was not marketed as a romance.
zvi: self-portrait: short, fat, black dyke in bunny slippers (Default)

From: [personal profile] zvi


AFAIK, she's still publishing 'straight' SFF as well. But the Luna stuff is aimed at a crossover audience.
green_knight: (Futurescape)

From: [personal profile] green_knight


The one novel by her that I started and put down very quickly was, IIRC, marketed as SF, came with a review from the Romantic Times, followed Romance conventions, and was so terribly thin on the plot consequences side of what-if-ness that I could only consider the spaceships as backdrop for the unfulfilled yearning for an absent mate (book 2 of 5 or thereabouts).

If that is science fiction, I want no part of it.
coffeeandink: (Default)

From: [personal profile] coffeeandink


It was marketed as romance everywhere I saw it.

I am looking forward to getting around to the one with a time-traveling Italian vampire who meets Leonardo da Vinci.
inkstone: Samurai Deeper Kyo's Yuya sighing over a book, caption: reading is money (reading)

From: [personal profile] inkstone


It looks like it was pubbed by Leisure books. I say marketed as romance, knowing them.
veejane: Pleiades (Default)

From: [personal profile] veejane


That "swallow your own tongue" trope strikes me as... really? People have believed it for how long? I mean, I am a nerd, but I did look up one time where the tongue is anchored in the throat. The epiglottis -- the little throttle that makes you able to swallow and breathe but not both at once -- is behind the tongue. To assert that you can swallow your tongue is to assert that you have no connective tissue holding your tongue in your mouth! Why then does it not loll dangerously down your throat all the time, and choke you any day of the week? Because unless you've got some unfortunate genetics or a severe jaw injury in your past, your tongue is attached to your jaw pretty near the front.

(And anyway, "swallow your tongue" as a danger? Literally, that means half-swallowing it, with the epiglottis stuck occluding the airway. If that were possible. And if if were, people could to the Heimlich! Which would be gross!)

(The only thing I can think of is that the phrase originates in the -- relatively distant -- possibility of not just biting your tongue, but biting it through, so that a loose piece rattles around in your mouth and you swallow that. But even if you did, that would be sad and messy but not fatal! Inhaling a small piece of flesh could potentially be very bad, but that is not the same as swallowing!)

(You might have noticed, I am a nerd.)
londonkds: (Default)

From: [personal profile] londonkds


I think when you're asleep you retain enough reflex to shift position if your tongue falls back and blocks the airway, but it can be dangerous if you are more deeply unconscious.
oyceter: teruterubouzu default icon (Default)

From: [personal profile] oyceter


It is such a strange book! I like that the heroine is damaged and the hero is basically innocent, but all the gender essentialism drove me up the wall, especially considering that the author seemed to think she was tackling some gender questions. Sigh.
oyceter: teruterubouzu default icon (Default)

From: [personal profile] oyceter


Yeah. I got so frustrated when Jodi decided he was male because he was rational and logical! ARGH! I felt like she had this great set up for really addressing questions about gender and gendered expectations, and never pushed very much beyond the first attempt or so.

From: [identity profile] tool-of-satan.livejournal.com


I don’t mean the brain thing – given that the premise is downloading an AI into a human body, I’m not expecting plausibility in that regard.

Well. Yes. But I think if I had read this, at the point at which the scalpel was connected to the billing department my suspension of disbelief would have exploded into tiny bits. Unless the result was INCORRECT PROCEDURE CODE - PERSONALITY TRANSFER CANCELED - BILL PATIENT DIRECTLY.

From: [identity profile] tool-of-satan.livejournal.com


Also, no one I know at Microsoft has ever shown up with an AI personality downloaded into a human body. They must be holding out on me. Jerks.

From: [identity profile] tool-of-satan.livejournal.com


Because they would have more social skills.

(No one I know who works at Microsoft actually deserves that.)
ext_3386: (Default)

From: [identity profile] vito-excalibur.livejournal.com


If you haven't read it, I think you might really enjoy He, She & It.

From: [identity profile] slithytove.livejournal.com


[1] ...contrary to statements in this novel, schizophrenia does not mean “two personalities,”

Yeah, this is one of my hobby-horses, too.

[2] if someone has a seizure, for God’s sake don’t shove a pen in their mouth

Unfortunately, both of these untruths have been permanently wedged into the geek psyche by the the twin scriptures of the AD&D Manual [1] and the first Alien movie [2], and are doubtless impossible to extirpate.
.

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