(Learning About) Machine Sex

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Dorsey, Candas Jane. "(Learning About) Machine Sex." Vt "[Learning About] Machine Sex." Collected Machine Sex and Other Stories. Victoria, BC: Tesseract (Porcepic) Books, 1988. Reprinted The Norton Book of Science Fiction: North American Science Fiction, 1960-1990. Ursula K. Le Guin and Brian Attebery, ed. New York: Norton, 1993. Cybersex anthology. For other reprints and an award nomination, see Internet Speculative Fiction Database, as of January 2023 at link here.[1]

Cyberpunkish story of how Angel, the female hero, develops the computer program Machine Sex. Set in a world that "Sells the thought of pleasure as a commodity" (Norton 760), with "a world market hungry for the kind of glossy degradation Machine Sex could give them" (756). Preeminently set in a world in which men "don't care who they fuck," or what, so "Why not the computer in the den? Or the office system at lunch hour" (757-58). Gay male suggests that people want and deserve love (758), and the story includes brief meditations on love, sex, orgasm, politics, power, and the possibility that almost all heterosex is machine sex already. Cf. and contrast F. Pohl's "Day Million," also anthologized in Norton and Cybersex.

Italics omitted, the headnote in Cybersex anthology notes that the story "offers a female take on some of the subject-matter of Cyberpunk in a story that has acquitted something of the status of a modern classic. The protagonist also features in the novel Hardwired Angel, written in collaboration with Nora Abercrombie" (Cybersex p. [16]); Hardwired Angel as a chapbook from Arsenal Pulp Press 1987.[2]

Anthologized, usefully, in Reload: Rethinking Women + Cyberculture.

RDE, 16/02/95; finishing 25Jan23