"We were essentially being shell-shocked by rapid change. That was one of the things you needed science-fiction writers for back in the Sixties, because we could cope with the future."
- Peter Watts
||Remote manipulation of a body not your own.
|They go into a dim room containing a huge cabinet like a one-man sauna and a console for Joe. The room has a glass wall thatís all dark now. And just for your information, the whole shebang is five hundred feet underground near what used to be Carbondale, Pa.
Joe opens the sauna-cabinet like a big clamshell standing on end with a lot of funny business inside. Our girl shucks her shi and walks into it bare, totally unembarrassed. Eager. She settles in face-forward, butting jacks into sockets. Joe closes it carefully onto her humpback. Clunk. She canít see in there or hear or move. She hates this minute. But how she loves what comes next!
Joeís at his console and the lights on the other side of the glass wall come up. A room is on the other side, all fluff and kicky bits, a girly bedroom. In the bed is a small mound of silk with a rope of yellow hair hanging out.
The sheets stirs and gets whammed back flat.
Sitting up in the bed is the darlingest girl child youíve EVER seen. She quiv- ersóporno for angels. She sticks both her little arms straight up, flips her hair, looks around full of sleepy pazazz. Then she canít resist rubbing her hands down over her minibreasts and belly. Because, you see, itís the godawful P. Burke who is sitting there hugging her perfect girl-body, looking at you out of delighted eyes.
Then the kitten hops out of bed and crashes flat on the floor.
From the sauna in the dim room comes a strangled noise. P. Burke, trying to rub her wired-up elbow is suddenly smothered in two bodies, electrodes jerking in her flesh. Joe juggles inputs, crooning into his mike. The flurry passes; itís all right.
In the lighted room the elf gets up, casts a cute glare at the glass wall and goes into a transparent cubicle. A bathroom, what else? Sheís a live girl, and live girls have to go to the bathroom after a nightís sleep even if their brains are in a sauna-cabinet in the next room. And P. Burke isnít in that cabinet, sheís in the bathroom. Perfectly simple, if you have the glue for that closed training circuit thatís letting her run her neural system by remote control.
Now letís get one thing clear. P. Burke does not feel her brain is in the sauna room, she feels sheís in that sweet little body. When you wash your hands, do you feel the water is running on your brain? Of course not. You feel the water on your hand, although the ďfeelingĒ is actually a potential-pattern flickering over the electrochemical jelly between your ears. And itís delivered there via the long circuits om your hands. Just so, P. Burkeís brain in the cabinet feels the water on her hands in the bathroom. The fact that the signals have jumped across space on the way in makes no difference at all. If you want the jargon, itís known as eccentric projection or sensory reference and youíve done it all your life. Clear?
|From The Girl Who Was Plugged In,
by James Tiptree, Jr..
Published by Doubleday in 1974
Additional resources -
Compare to the Teleoperated Robot Surrogate from The Robot and the Lady (1938) by Manly Wade Wellman and the meat puppets from Neuromancer (1984) by William Gibson.
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