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Someone to Watch Over Me by Tricia Sullivan

Someone to Watch Over Me (edition 1998)

by Tricia Sullivan

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921131,245 (3.37)6
Title:Someone to Watch Over Me
Authors:Tricia Sullivan
Info:Gollancz (1998), Paperback
Collections:Your library

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Someone to Watch Over Me by Tricia Sullivan

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You can rent your head out: go trans with a bit of hardware, invite an anonymous Watcher to step in and experience you: what you think, what you feel, what you see. Or you can go wired, enter the Deep, become a player rather than a played. Influence the consciousness you enter: touch it, flow it. Change it maybe. The Deep itself is dark: it has no form, you can't compile it. But something is changing there: something to do with I. What is I made of? Some body mods, rerouted wiring, a bit of software? Does it solve a mind/body problem? Does it have a soul? Whatever I is, it's not obsolete. When you look at it closely, though, it's a bit alarming to find that you can see it in the mirror, just a flicker of someone who is looking back at you.

In the Deep, Self may be disappearing. Part of the point, perhaps. But what's an I, after all? C is a Watcher with an unusual profile and more entanglements than usual: but isn't identity not supposed to matter? Max wants to claim it, as he claims the Deep. Adrien takes the hardware out, to disengage. Tomaj in some sense enjoys being overwritten. Sabina is a composer, who wants only to experience I, to use it, as a vehicle to composition. But I's not friendly, maybe. You could lose your head. Some do. User, beware.

This is a very interesting book. You can read it as a futurist mystery, as a straight cyberpunk story, as a social dystopia study, as a portrait of post-technological self-actualization, as an existential question. And it works, too, on all those levels. The point of view - third-personhood, and first, and who belongs to which - is nicely written.

But also, it's a study of creative energy: how strong it is, how ruthless. It overwrites its own parameters. It operates as a series of slow reveals. In the struggle between ego and id and superego, we see what it's willing to cede to the I and to the Other, and where instead it stands its ground, and what that means for the boundaries of Self along the way. There's a very interesting inversion of creative impulses that takes place near the end, too, changing the outcome. That level of the story also works, and is worth thinking about. ( )
  macha | Dec 8, 2008 |
Due to Human Interface Technology, HIT, people known as Watchers can pay to experience the lives of others via head implants. Unlike with run of the mill plants, though, Adrien Reyes’s Watcher, known as C, can talk back to him. Adrien suffers a near fatal beating while on an errand for C to try to procure an improved version of the interface, called only I, which leads to him linking up with a Croatian woman, Sabina. When C disrupts their growing relationship by taking Adrien over at an inopportune moment, so scaring Sabina off, Adrien resolves to rid himself of his plant. He returns to the US to achieve this.

As a result C instead fixes his designs on Sabina - who has become interested in the experience of being watched - and utilises another of his watched, Tomaj, to entice her to him. Meanwhile, the shadowy figure of Max wishes to gain I for himself as a means of accessing the Deep, the environment where HIT becomes more of a mixing of minds.

Thereafter we move more into thriller territory as the novel runs to its denouement and Adrien seeks to protect Sabina from the forces surrounding her.

I'm not moved to seek out more of Sullivan's work after reading this but it is an unusual - intermittently violent - telling of what is, in the end, a love story.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0553577026, Paperback)

The notion of identity has become clouded in a future where the Watchers are able to inhabit the bodies of well-paid slaves through satellite links.  Two people who have become surrogate bodies have two entirely different takes on the experience.  Adrien Reyes views the link as a trap he needs to escape, while Sabina Lazarich sees it as a chance at true empathy.  But neither knows that the experimental brain implant, I, could give a dying Watcher a second chance, and it has targeted one of them as a host.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:13:33 -0400)

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