I suspect this is a book that will change with each re read.
One of my top 10 I read it yearly, if not frequently Science fiction Future society where people can connect mind to mind and a woman who becomes a counselor in a time when people can share their innermost lives and then need help dealing with the consequences The main character seems initially shallow and immature, but she grows on you, and grows into herself The world which can seem confusing, having so many new constructs to assimilate, is rich and has surprising detail for so short a read.
For Allie, Putting On The Madcap That Jerry Borrowed Was A Very Big Mistake The Psychosis Itself Was Quite Conventional, But It Didn T Go Away When She Took The Madcap Off, So The Brain Police Took Over Leaving Her With A Choice Go To Jail As A Mind Criminal Or Become A Mindplayer Alexandra Haas henceforth known as Allie has gotten in trouble with the law for the first time Her buddy Jerry Wirerammer hooked her up with an illegal madcap and the thing didn t have a proper shutdown mode, so she was stuck in a psychosis and Jerry had to take her to the dry cleaners to have it removed from her brain The Brain Police s sentencing requires her to pay off her public debt by going to J Walter Tech for training in mindplay, and then taking on a job as a mindplayer until she s paid the debt off Before her arrest, Allie preferred solitary means of attaining alternate states of consciousness , even so far as never having mindplayed In the end, she becomes a pathosfinder, helping her clients overcome blocks to their creativity the Alerted Snakes of Consequence don t show up until later.
Mindplay s central idea is manipulation of the chemical processes in the brain Two or people s brains are connected in a shared hallucination via wires connected directly to the optic nerve of each person, with a machine or computer as an intermediary Your memories can be copied or erased, you can gain a fetish or neurosis, you can work your way through grief or trauma, any number of things These activities are heavily regulated, perfectly reasonable when dealing with a tech where one s entire consciousness can be copied or taken from their own brain and sold to the highest bidder Mindrape and mindsuck are things to be feared.
Allie goes about her various pathosfinding assignments in an episodic format, each assignment illuminating both the workings of mindplay and moving her own personal arc forward While I d like to describe some of the people she comes across in her assignments, I feel that it would spoil a lot of the better parts of this story to talk about them in too much detail Allie s initial reluctance to mindplay her meeting the mindsuck victim McFloy during her training tenure at J Walter and learning the eye trick her ongoing and not terribly healthy friendship with Jerry Wirerammer, and her on again off again affair with Jascha her Deadpan Allie handle at her job with Nelson Nelson Industries all of these carry forward throughout the book and build on each other and with her work assignments I thought it was masterfully done.
Allie is described as leading a mental life early on, and along with being told in first person, a good portion of the story takes place in the confines of her head in a literal way In keeping with her Deadpan Allie work alias, Allie has a dry sense of humor which I enjoyed a lot There s a pun or two to groan at, as well Someone who s looking for space operatic large scale conflict in their SF isn t likely to find a congenial fit here It suited me perfectly, though Allie s major setback is personal in nature, and its resolution has everything to do with self realization and nothing to do with physical conflict The climax was moving and reminded me a lot of the last sequence of the anime view spoiler Neon Genesis Evangelion hide spoiler Got it as part of a Cadigan omnibus on sale Learned from an interview with her that it s a fix up novel from a bunch of short stories which makes sense Starts out great, winds up pretty confusing I was almost completely lost by the last quarter.
But the ideas and bits of it that were great were very good indeed Looking forward to the other novels in the ombinus which aren t her first novel mashed together from a bunch of vaguely connected stories P You ve got to look while it s happening Otherwise you miss seeing it the way it should be seen With first wave cyberpunk in full swing in 1987, Pat Cadigan s Mindplayers represents somewhat of an anomaly While cyberspace was the predominate playground for most cyberpunk at that time, there are no runners traversing digital lines into some corporations information vaults lined with protective ICE Instead, a kind of cyberspace exists only to facilitate mind to mind contact, lucid dreaming, and mind altering substances Allie is a mind criminal who uses a number of banned substances and illegal devices before she s actually busted by the mind police When a friend named Jerry steals a mindcap and convinces her to use it, her mind is left with lasting damage He dumps her off to get help but they both get snatched, starting their very separate journeys Does all of this really mean that much to you It s just stuff Jerry It s just expensive stuff You re risking your your self for a goddamn nouveau couch Turns out instead of serving time, you can become a mindplayer encompassing several disciplines that people use to alter their state of consciousness Roughly, these services are kind of forms of therapy, though there are also neurosis peddlers too, so who knows Rather than go to jail, Allie decides to become a mindplayer After all, if you mess yourself up enough then they can just scrub your mind, at least, ostensibly you can No big deal, right Mindplayers is at its absolute best when its exploring ideas around psychosis and how the people who meet and interact with one another, mold and shape each other with or without their knowledge This is taken to extremes when people meet mind to mind, navigating the contours of one another s consciousness Opening the flood gates and exposing this contact for all sorts of allegories Thankfully, with subject matter like this there is no poverty tourism or fetishization, or even hyper sexualism that is often present in this wave of cyberpunk books Instead, the judiciary system decides Allie is a criminal and her best option as presented to her, is to assimilate into the system that labels her a threat, or else suffer extreme repercussions While she may have been on a dangerous trajectory, as it s implied that she had been using a lot of other mind altering illegal substances, but not mindcaps, to be in a continual altered state, it s interesting to me that in this story, the omnipresence is actually something systemic There is no evil corporation It s just the state It analyzes her, determines she has value due to her brain chemistry, and immediately commodifies her Anyone s capable of developing delusions under the right conditions The majority of the story is Allie undergoing this training and the obstacles she faces, which change her mind in unexpected ways And the situations she s put in with her clients in order to work off this debt are inherently dangerous and each of them leaves an after taste on the mind People s fetishes, violent desires, and neurosis become weaponized, physical forces in a medium like mind to mind contact So in an effort to commodify her she is also dehumanized and risks losing her sense of self With the alternative being jail It s compelling and different To connect mind to mind you use technology that attaches to the optic nerve typically, though there are exceptions , which means peoples eyes are removed They sometimes need to purchase new ones when the old ones wear out, and they can become status symbols when people buy cats eyes or ones associated with different gemstones Though a bit on the nose, it leads to both of these kinds of people not being able to see things for what they truly are, whether oppressed by the system or apart of it The only downside to a narrative exploring this kind of subject matter is that it necessarily feels quite loose, and dreamy, which is not indicative of a genre generally known for frenetic pacing I could see it being off putting to people reading the sub genre frequently While most of the subversions of masculine cyberpunk are welcome, this did make it hard to get invested in I wanted to get to the next exploration of the waking or subconscious mind While the story came to a satisfying conclusion, and the format for which it s presented in makes sense, the pacing was hindered by it Do you know there are no longer any actors alive today who still have their own eyes It seems strange Drawing on life and looking at it through artificial eyes On another positive note, though, another welcome subversion indicative of Cadigan s work is how she writes her protagonists I mentioned that there is no hyper sexualization, but it s so that sexuality doesn t play much of a role in the story at all While Allie has relationships with others, the story rarely if ever focuses on the physicality of anything It s on point for the story being told and contributes to its uniqueness Additionally, masculine cyberpunk and feminine cyberpunk tend to be most different with how embodiment is handled Masculine leans toward mind over body feminine gives far weight to a persons body comprising their overall identity Mindplayers falls somewhere in the middle Later, in Synners, Cadigan has made up her mind about this But here mind to mind contact is of extrapolation between people s interactions in real life In that way, embodiment matters But it always feels like a medium, with not much weight really being attributed to it beyond that Allie is simply not a physical person, she continually reiterates that she has always had an active mind and been in her head, rather than a busy social life The minor details of her life, from her perspective, truly fall away in the story For good and, sometimes, at the expense of a thematically tight narrative It s compelling to see the starting of a throughline that would ultimately lead to Synners, which feels like it benefited greatly from this against the grain tale Not a single thing that s passed between us has been real and yet you ve been hunting me like the hound of heaven.
This has been siting on my bookshelf for 10 plus year Thinking I should give it a try.
From the author s blog which you can follow by following her author s page here at Good Reads.
Hmm, I think I have been a Mind criminal for a very long time Als schaue man durch eine mit Scheuklappen versehene Brille Umwelt, Personen, St dte werden nur sehr sp rlich beschrieben Im Gegensatz zu z B Neuromancer daf r umsomehr die Erlebnisse unserer Heldin und ihrer Spazierg nge durch andere Gehirne Interessant die Weiterentwicklung der Protagonistin innerhalb des Romans Viele klassische Cyberpunk Elemente Stammt ja auch aus dieser Zeit 1987
E se fosse possibile entrare nella mente di una persona, organizzarla, attaccarla, metterla alla rinfusa, hackerarla, copiarla ed alterarla, esattamente come se fosse un file Cosa resterebbe allora dell identit , dell autocoscienza Questo l interrogativo fondamentale del romanzo, che piuttosto che rispondere preferisce porre domande, domande anticipatorie che tutt ora sono lungi dal trovare una risposta In un mondo dalle coscienze volubili come la moda, in cui possibile modificare, copiare, vendere la propria identit a piacere, non solo l individualit a finire destrutturata, ma la stessa realt E soprattutto questo il conflitto che vive la protagonista, il conflitto tra quella che chiama vita lucida , la vita quotidiana, materiale, fisica, e la pi complessa vita mentale Ma come muoversi in una realt mentale, quando viene a mancare proprio l unico punto di riferimento, ovvero l autocoscienza