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de Robert A. Heinlein

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A beautiful interplanetary agent, a glorious product of genetic engineering, operates from and over a near-future Earth.
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Don't remember this one well, but I remember thinking I would've been told I wasn't old enough if they'd known what was in it. Was shocking in the early teen years :P ( )
  Malaraa | Apr 26, 2022 |
  laplantelibrary | Apr 5, 2022 |
Reading the reviews here on Goodreads, this is clearly a divisive book. Folks seem either to love it or hate it. It was nominated for Hugo, Nebula, Locus SF, and Prometheus awards, although it did not end up winning any of them. While it's not Heinlein's best, I think it's a fairly solid effort.

At its core, the story is about what all good science fiction is about: What does it mean to be human? Friday explores that question in the setting of a futuristic world that is rapidly degrading through balkanization and surreptitious control by multinational corporations. The eponymous character, Friday Jones, is an "artificial person" (AP) – what today we would call a genetically engineered person – who has no legal rights, although she is technically free, unlike some APs who are slaves or indentured. As an AP, Friday is stronger and more intelligent than "real" people, and she is also immune to many diseases. However, because of rampant prejudice and fear against APs, she hides her talents as much as possible, relying on them only when necessary. As one might expect, it becomes more necessary to rely on those characteristics as the story continues.

I found the mixture of Friday's superhumanness and subhumanness intriguing. Her constant fear of being found out as an AP is tempered by the knowledge that she can, at any time, perform feats that are impossible for the average person. In one way or another, she is almost never among equals, and societal prejudice (and fear of that prejudice) conspires to scuttle any potential moments when she might otherwise have had a meaningful encounter with another AP. The people she meets are constantly drawing lines, both literally and figuratively, to delineate their tolerance, and far too often Friday finds herself on the opposite side of those lines.

Having grown up in the 1980s, I remember some of the discussions (and fear) about test-tube babies and the supposed horrors they would create. Debates today about genetic modifications and human cloning are descendants of those discussions. Also, the way Heinlein portrays people talking about APs also reminded me of some of the ways people today talk about genetically modified organisms (GMOs), using words like "frankenfoods" to incite fear and cynicism.

Some reviewers have criticized the book for having no clear plot, which doesn't make sense to me. What I think they mean is that there is no singular MacGuffin driving the entire story. But there is most definitely a plot: Friday's discovery of her own humanity. Yes, it meanders sometimes, and there is backtracking and indecision at others. But isn't that the way of it in everybody's life? Who wants a story about someone who goes directly from point A to point B? So what if we never find out the full details about Red Thursday? MacGuffins are fine enough for what they can do, but it is wrong to think that a MacGuffin is required to have a plot worth reading.

There is one piece that requires a little more in-depth analysis, partly because it is controversial, but more importantly because I think it highlights what is wrong with some of the criticism of this novel. However, first I must issue a

Trigger Warning

In Chapter 2, Friday gets gang raped. There is no way to discuss this gently.

A lot of reviewers dislike this scene, and it's understandable why. For one thing, it's an incredibly uncomfortable – if such an inadequate word may be used – scene to read, not merely because it is a rape, but because of the detached way in which Friday handles it. First, she criticizes the act of rape as an outdated method of interrogation: "No professional group uses either beating or rape before interrogation today; there is no profit in it; any professional is trained to cope with either or both." Then, Friday outlines three such coping methods: A) "detach the mind and wait for it to be over"; B) "emulate the ancient Chinese adage" (which adage that may be is never revealed, or at least I didn't pick up on it); and C) use the event "as an opportunity to gain an edge" over one's captors. Finally, Friday transitions from academic theory to application, indicating her choice of method C (with a little B) and explaining her calculated responses to the relative unpleasantness of each of the four men who raped her.

The scene (indeed, the whole chapter, which later subjects Friday to a variety of tortures) is both terrible and terrifying. I was eventually able to integrate only by justification of it being part of the extremely harsh world, run nominally by balkanized states but in reality by multinational corporations, in which Friday lives, works and plays. As she narrates later about the probability of her being killed if she continues with a particular job, "If you don't believe that such things can happen, we aren't living in the same world and there is no point in your reading any more of this memoir." Criticism against the way Friday handles being raped seems largely to ignore the realities of the world in which Friday lives, a world in which it is not only prudent but expected that those who trade in secrets (as she does) be trained to handle such methods. I daresay such training occurs in the primary world – not to say that it is right, but that it happens.

There are some who suggest that this scene shows that Heinlein is dismissive of rape, and that Friday's method of handling being raped is somehow commentary by the author that rape itself is not a big deal or that all women who are raped should respond similarly to Friday. This sort of "crit fic" analysis goes directly against the text. Friday acknowledges that she has suffered "bruises, contusions, and multiple personal indignities – even heartbreaking ones had I been an untrained female" (emphasis added). There is no suggestion in the text that every person should be able to handle such a situation in the same way, or that even having such training and being able to handle gang rape in the way Friday did is a good thing. It is an unfortunate – another inadequate word – part of Friday's world that such occurrences exist, but ignoring their existence does not make them go away. Friday has been trained because it makes sense for her to be, given her career and the world she lives in, but it is absurd to extend that idea to propose that Heinlein thinks all real-life women should treat gang rape the same way as a specially trained, genetically engineered woman who lives in a fictional future does.

More striking than the event itself is the later revelation that one of her rapists (known variously as "Mac," "Pete" and "Percival") is a member of Friday's security detail during an off-planet job. When she confronts him and asks why he participated, Pete says, "I did it because I wanted to. Because you are so sexy you could corrupt a Stylite. Or cause Venus to switch to Lesbos. I tried to tell myself I couldn't avoid it. But I [k]new better." This goes against the conventional idea that rape is about power and domination, rather than sex, and the all-to-common excuse that such violation is a compulsion on the part of the perpetrator. In lieu of killing Pete (he even offers to make it look like a suicide), Friday demands various information and explanations from him. She also says that letting her go pee (after the rape, but before the other tortures) was when she decide he was "not totally beyond hope." Later, while making her escape from her employers – whom she deduces are most likely going to kill her once the job is over – Pete helps her, and they eventually get married. That's right: Friday marries one of her rapists. Those who have a problem with how Friday handles the rape scene in situ also dislike these later developments.

Those who criticize this book (and Heinlein) seem to focus more on the fact that Friday has the wrong responses to being gang raped, according to their view, rather than asking why it is that Friday has the reactions she does. Friday is not dehumanized by the assault, nor does she dehumanize her assaulters. Partly this is because she is already dehumanized by the fact of her existence. From the beginning she identifies herself as an Artificial Person, and the entire novel is an exploration of what it means to be human. She travels from place to place seeking to find those who will accept her for who she really is, rather than for the various identities she takes on during the course of her work. It is somewhat ironic that despite this very clear and ubiquitous theme throughout the novel, some readers can't see through their own preconceived notions about rape enough to allow Friday her own thoughts and reactions. ( )
1 vota octoberdad | Dec 16, 2020 |
Oh, please, Mr. Heinlein. . . . ( )
  Chica3000 | Dec 11, 2020 |
It's a good read, and probably representative of Heinlein's later, well-rehearsed voice. His polyamorous families are very much in play in virtually any family gathering set of episodes, and trigger alert: there is a rape scene at the beginning.

The basic premise is that Friday is an Advanced Person whose status in society is below that of "real" people. She is physically indistinguishable from a human female, including having Cherokee features. One thing that impressed me about Heinlein is that in her EnnZed family (New Zealand in this book), Heinlein confronts the endemic racism of the white family when a daughter marries a Tongan. As in Africa. They are not averse to Friday's AmerIndian bloodlines, nor are they averse to the Maori peoples; their rationale is that both groups are "first peoples." But for their daughter to marry a Tongan! She is instantly disowned. Friday risks it all, and loses, when she demonstrates her AP self.

The space flight and transportation makes my head hurt, and the continued sexcapades with all of the people she picks up are a bit much. But Friday does struggle with acceptance into humanity and her story is reasonably well told. ( )
  threadnsong | May 31, 2020 |
Es mostren 1-5 de 63 (següent | mostra-les totes)
Ze heet Vrijdag, is even vindingrijk als verblindend mooi en is één van de beste interplanetaire agenten. Bovendien is zij een kunstmens...

Vrijdag wordt geëxploiteerd door een man, waarvan zij niet meer weet dan dat hij haar opdrachtgever is. Opererend vanaf de Aarde, in een tijd dat Amerika nog slechts een samenraapsel is van enkele dozijnen staatjes, waar cultuur nog nauwelijks betekenis heeft en een blijmoedig soort chaos heerst, vormt ze een soort speelbal binnen het ogenschijnlijk grillige opdrachtenpatroon van haar baas.

Vrijdag weet haar evenwichtigheid op vaardige wijze te behouden door snelle en creatieve oplossingen, terwijl ze van de ene calamiteit in het volgende probleem verzeild raakt. Vertwijfeld in haar opstelling ten aanzien van de mensen waarmee ze werkt en de relaties die daaruit voortvloeien, weet ze nooit of ze nu een stap voor- of achterloopt op de uiteindelijke lotbeschikking van het menselijke ras.
afegit per karnoefel | editaBoekblogger

» Afegeix-hi altres autors (37 possibles)

Nom de l'autorCàrrecTipus d'autorObra?Estat
Heinlein, Robert A.autor primaritotes les edicionsconfirmat
Buzzard, MadelynNarradorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Curtoni, VittorioTraductorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Ezzoubi, KattriTÕlkija.autor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Hill, AmyDissenyadorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Huber, HillaryNarradorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
하인라인, 로버트 A.autor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Jeschke, WolfgangHerausgeberautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Laerhoven, Bob vanautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Lewis, Edwardautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Maillet, LéoneTraductorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
McQuay, RobertNarradorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Nielsen, CliffAutor de la cobertaautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Nurmik, KaiToimetaja.autor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Pärk, MattiKujundaja.autor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Powers, Richard M.Autor de la cobertaautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Santos, Domingoautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Schlück, ThomasTraductorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Thole, KarelDissenyador de la cobertaautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Whelan, MichaelAutor de la cobertaautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
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This book is dedicated to Ann, Anne, Barbie, Betsy, Bubbles, Carolyn, Catherine, Dian, Diane, Eleanor, Elinor, Gay, Jeanne, Joan, Judy-Lynn, Karen, Kathleen, Marilyn, Nichelle, Patricia, Pepper, Polly, roberta, Ramea, Rebel, Ursula, Verna, Vivian, Vonda, Yumiko, and always - semper toujours! - to Ginny R.A.H.
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As I left the Kenya Beanstalk capsule he was right on my heels. He followed me through the door leading to Customs, Health, and Immigration. As the door contracted behind him I killed him.
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The Portuguese version of this work comes in three volumes. None should be combined here unless entering all three as a single work.
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A beautiful interplanetary agent, a glorious product of genetic engineering, operates from and over a near-future Earth.

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