"I received a nice letter the other day from the Dalai Lama. He had read 'The Nine Billion Names of God'. It is about a computer at a Tibetan monastery."
- Arthur C. Clarke
||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 that’s 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 can’t see in there or hear or move. She hates this minute. But how she loves what comes next!
Joe’s 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 you’ve EVER seen. She quiv- ers—porno for angels. She sticks both her little arms straight up, flips her hair, looks around full of sleepy pazazz. Then she can’t resist rubbing her hands down over her minibreasts and belly. Because, you see, it’s 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; it’s 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? She’s a live girl, and live girls have to go to the bathroom after a night’s sleep even if their brains are in a sauna-cabinet in the next room. And P. Burke isn’t in that cabinet, she’s in the bathroom. Perfectly simple, if you have the glue for that closed training circuit that’s letting her run her neural system by remote control.
Now let’s get one thing clear. P. Burke does not feel her brain is in the sauna room, she feels she’s 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 “feeling” is actually a potential-pattern flickering over the electrochemical jelly between your ears. And it’s delivered there via the long circuits om your hands. Just so, P. Burke’s 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, it’s known as eccentric projection or sensory reference and you’ve 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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