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Mason, Lisa. Arachne. New York City: William Morrow 1990. NYC: AvoNova-Avon, 1992.[1]

A slightly kinder, gentler, and somewhat less bloody cyberpunk novel, with a human woman and female-gendered AI sort-of robot as protagonists, "telespace" open to the arrival of archetypes, and ethical issues handled with insight. As in William Gibson's Neuromancer series, there is drug use, mega-firms, "transcendent" entities in cyberspace, and AI's, but their use is more serious here. The drugs work, all right, but can be dangerous; the mega-firm we see is a very nasty law firm; the transcendent entities are psychological and historical (plausibly and explicitly from the collective unconscious); and the AI's are relatively realistic serious-comic characters, including the featured, feminine AI, PR. Spinner. (NOTE: We follow the tradition of taking comedy seriously.) Sequel: LM's Cyberweb. (RDE, 02/09/95)

Described by Frances Bonner as "female-inflected cyberpunk" if "not women's sf," esp. significant for the AI "Pr Spinner, a very fully characterized and . . . [female] gendered creation." Rev. Bonner in Foundation #54 (Spring 1992): 115-18. ML's telespace, described by Marcia Marx as "a human/computer interface technology similar to Gibson's Neuromancer." (q.v.). Rev. SFRA Newsletter #180 (Sept. 1990): 37-38.

Discussed briefly in "Women's Cyberfiction: An Introduction," p. 29, stressing the hierarchy among the AIs in the world of this novel, and the worries of PR. Spinner "about the state of her equipment" and the effect of breakdowns on her personally, and her status.

Updated RDE, 26Jul23