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He, She and It

3.98  ·  Rating details ·  5,100 ratings  ·  383 reviews
In the middle of the twenty-first century, life as we know it has changed for all time. Shira Shipman's marriage has broken up, and her young son has been taken from her by the corporation that runs her zone, so she has returned to Tikva, the Jewish free town where she grew up. There, she is welcomed by Malkah, the brilliant grandmother who raised her, and meets an extraor ...more
Paperback, 448 pages
Published January 23rd 1993 by Fawcett (first published 1991)
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Average rating 3.98  · 
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 ·  5,100 ratings  ·  383 reviews


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Lit Bug
Apr 13, 2013 rated it liked it
Published in 1991 (Body of Glass in the USA), He, She and It is a dystopian future in the 22nd century where big, bad global corporations control scarce world resources and remain luxurious, spick and span, while independent free zones remain in squalor but free and dangerous.

The story follows Shira Shipman, working at one such corp called Y-S, recently divorced and forced to give up the custody of her only son, Ari. She returns, dejected, to her hometown Tikva, a Jewish free-zone where she grew
...more
Barbara
May 26, 2014 rated it really liked it

It's the near future and the Earth has been decimated by war and pollution. The world is run by huge corporations (multis) whose chosen employees adhere to rigid, stylized rules for dressing, working, and living. Most people, however, live in far-reaching, dangerous, poverty-ridden slums called The Glop. A few towns that are able to create and sell original technology to the multis remain free.

People around the world have access to an extensive computer network into which they can project thems
...more
Debbie Zapata
Jun 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: saturdaymx
I finished this book very early on a morning when I was planning to work in the yard all day long. As I trimmed trees, weeded, clipped grass, and gave all the plants a nice drink, I thought how lucky I was to be able to spend my time caring for the life around me.

Not like most of the people living in Shira's day. We only gradually learn what a disaster the planet has become by the year 2059, which is a good way to tell this type of story. I don't like having to read two or three chapters explain
...more
Katie
Mar 06, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: dystopia
Abandoned. I just didn't connect with this at all. Didn't care for the writing or the characters. Largely a matter of personal taste because objectively there's nothing much wrong with either but I can't be bothered to slog through all its futuristic jargon.
Mikhaela
Dec 25, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone, especially if you liked the Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay
Jewish girl in dystopian future meets cyborg, and falls in love. Jewish girl in 1600s Prague meets golem, and falls in love.

As much as I enjoyed The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, when it comes to books involving golems in Prague, this book takes the blue ribbon. Kavalier took me a while to get in to, but He, She and It gripped me from the beginning and I could NOT put it down. He, She and It is many things--Jewish feminist fiction, a robot love story, dystopian science fiction, cyper
...more
Megan Baxter
Mar 20, 2014 rated it really liked it
A friend loaned this to me, telling me one of her profs had told her it was cyberpunk, and she hadn't been enthralled with it. I've read at least one other Marge Piercy, and for the most part, enjoyed this one, although there were some issues that I've seen in both books so far that I'll get to in a minute. But first of all, let's address genre. Is this really cyberpunk? I would tend to fall on the side of no, not really, although there are some elements of classic cyberpunk in there. But instea ...more
Linda Robinson
Sep 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Strong women, engaged and accomplished women, women who don't faint or puke while staring down an enhanced security ape. One of the panel discussions at WisCon this year was the difference between a solid female protagonist and a bad ass super hero, and Marge Piercy needs to be on the next panel. Her characters are strong without being perfect. Shira Shipman is the Mother in this book's trinity of graces. Her son has been assigned to her exhusband in a divorce decree and she wants the boy back. ...more
Diana
Nov 05, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: discarded-shelf
2 stars because while the idea isn't bad, I found that it was easy to get myself lost in all the Jewish terms sprouting in the in-between, and I felt lost with lots of the dystopian information which were sort or given randomly at times. Also, the pace was agonizingly slow, IMO.
There is a woman who asks for a divorce and the custody of her child gets given to the father. We get a lot of remmebrances of her past dalliances with a man called Gabi, the father of which offers her a job back at her m
...more
Zach
Feb 08, 2010 rated it did not like it
"You really took revenge on me. You really did."
Lindsay
As you can probably surmise from the huge collection of tags I've attached to this book, there is A LOT of stuff going on here!

Even the structure of this book is complex and multifaceted: two stories, told by two narrators, in alternating chapters. The first narrator is Shira Shipman, a young, upper-middle-class Jewish woman who has recently become a wife and mother. Her life is also almost completely controlled by her employer, a huge biotechnology corporation, not only because they have a very
...more
Claire Corbett
Mar 22, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of my favourite SF books of all time. Time to re-read. That sexism is alive and well and rife in literary culture is proved by the fact that Body of Glass isn't more famous than anything by William Gibson, for example, though I see it did at least win an Arthur C Clarke award. This is published in the US under the truly dreadful title He, She and It. Also worth checking out Woman on the Edge of Time. Classic 1970s feminist utopia, with, if I remember correctly, a rather good dystopia as well ...more
Chana
I don't know where I got this book as sci-fi is not the genre I usually read and with a title of "He, She and It" I didn't expect much of it. I was vastly surprised when I found myself reading about the Maharal of Prague. I was humbled and honored to even gaze at the printed word Maharal. I had heard stories about the Golem but didn't know too much. I was very moved by his story and cried when it came to an end. One of my sons has been to Prague and to the Altneushul. He said there are stories a ...more
Ariel
Mar 27, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: radical-politics
I started He, She, and It on spring break and finally finished it today, but I'm glad I could savor this novel over three months because it is fabulous. Marge Piercy writes a cyberpunk novel that doesn't ignore women, religion, ethnicity, community. She's the kind of science fiction writer I love: someone who doesn't care about how people interface with a computer or what technology builds a cyborg, but rather what happens and what folks feel.

I may call He, She, and It cyberpunk, but it's not al
...more
Carolyn F.
Aug 22, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sci-fi
I guess I'm going through a robot loving stage. Shira ends an unhappy marriage but her husband not only gets custody of their son, he's allowed to live off-planet. This is a post-apocalyptic world by the way. When she sees there's nothing for her to do, she quits her corporate job (corporations have all the power now) and goes home to her domed Jewish enclave where she grew up accepting a job from a family friend. Well the job is to acclimate a cyborg named Yod. Her grandmother has inputted feel ...more
Carol
Jun 14, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy-sci-fi
This beautiful sci-fi novel is set in the mid-twenty-first century, several decades after a major ecological cataclysm and resulting societal upheaval. The reduced human population can no longer live in the open without protective gear and structures, the majority of food must be derived from algae and grown in vats; but computer technology is very advanced, with AIs, service robots, and sophisticated virtual reality. People live in closed corporate enclaves, the sprawling and chaotic urban Glop ...more
Sooz
Jan 30, 2013 rated it liked it
so i'd say i am about 1/2 way through the novel and have gradually become fully and completely invested in the story. the copy i have from my library looks like it was published in the sixties ... you know ... hardback with the plastic slip cover, poorly executed artwork on the cover that (no offense to the artist) but it looks kind of cheap. so in some ways the novel feels more dated than 1991, but in other ways the author has done an admirable job of predicting the future and the book still fe ...more
Tucker
Jun 13, 2015 rated it really liked it
A long book that started off slow, but got better and better right up until the end. The human creator of this golem/cyborg put it through iterations until the result became increasingly humanlike. In that, the premise of the 2015 film Ex Machina resembles this book, which predated the film by two-and-a-half decades. The robot has opinions, makes conversations, and has sex (as a male).

This book also foretold the rise of the Internet. It has people living in what we might call today "smart houses
...more
Dennis Fischman
Jul 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
I re-read this book after many years, and I had to struggle with myself not to give it five stars. It is perfect for me. Reading science fiction set in a world where Hebrew names, Jewish culture, and Jewish history are basics is exhilarating. Plus I care deeply about the issues of the book: gender, power and its abuse, the meaning of love and loyalty.

It also amazes me how well Piercy could imagine the internet, virtual reality, and ecological devastation, writing more than a quarter-century ago.
...more
Diana
Jan 31, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This was a brilliantly written and brilliantly conceived book - I am a fan of Marge Piercy's poetry, but not as big a fan of her novels - never was able to get into her most famous novel Woman on the Edge of Time. This book, however, captured my imagination and emotions. It was given to me to read by a graduate school friend of mine, and I found myself drawn into the story immediately. I love the complex layers of themes that Piercy gives readers here. At the heart of this novel, for me, is the ...more
Felicia
Nov 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sci-fi, fantasy
Absolutely fantastic book. Deep and layered and fascinating cyberpunk/morality/romance. Hard to describe but worth the read, a classic for sure!
Jacqie
Feb 25, 2020 rated it liked it
In the beginning I was interested in this book, but I got impatient and decided to move on.

So, this book is almost 30 years old! And yet it paints a picture of a future I could believe, and it chilled me. It's a bit like Handmaid's Tale in that way. The world is divided between megacorporations who bid for workers who then live within their compounds and go by their rules. Each corp has its own culture. It also has day workers who come in from the Glop (the megalopolises that surround corporate
...more
Angelica
Jan 31, 2017 rated it liked it
I found this quite a pleasant read, much better than I expected. The person who recommended it to me said it was "a wonderful romance story with sci-fi tinges", so I was expecting something along the lines of YA romance science fiction. In reality, this is a very good sci-fi book, well-constructed and with an interesting premise, and the romance is just an element of the story.

The feminist part was very nice in some points and not so good in others. There are amazing, complex female characters;
...more
Allan Nail
Jul 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Beautiful. I won't say much here, as I'm teaching this book in the fall. But this is a beautiful, challenging, and memorable read.

So many aspects of this book fascinate me, it would have been hard for me not to like it. There was religion, science fiction, apocalyptic fiction and themes of starting over, golems; just an endless array. There is no small irony (or pun?) in saying that what struck me as most moving was the humanity at the center of this book.

I really don't want to go on about this
...more
Mandi
Jul 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
You know when you have a toffee that starts off hard and impenetrable and slowly it warms up and becomes chewier and chewier and moorish and compelling until you are desperate not to swallow it because then it ends? Anyway yeah, that. When people say fans of Margaret Atwood would enjoy this, what they mean is, Margaret Atwood wishes she wrote this. Stick with it for at least 100 pages, doesn’t disappoint. Feminist dystopian sci fi wowie 😍
Aoife
Sep 09, 2013 rated it really liked it
So nice to read feminist sci-fi (with a golem added in). I gobbled this one up with pleasure
Amy
Nov 24, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Full review available at: warmdayswillnevercease.wordpress.com

Rating: 4.5/5

He, She and It is set in what used to be the United States of America and Canada in the year 2059 where humanity has made great advances in technology and the human body is easily fused with pieces of tech or modified in other ways. There are several different groups of people in this novel: those that live in ‘multis’, those that live in ‘the Glop’, and those that live in ‘Free Towns’. Multis are multi-national enterpris
...more
Brian
May 14, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: judaism, cyberpunk
At first I wasn't sure that I was going to like He, She and It because I found the main character extremely unsympathetic. And then I realized it was about Jews in the cyberpunk future, and that redeemed it enough that I kept going.

The book is actually two stories, one set in the past and one set in the future. The latter is the story of Shira Shipman, a Jewish woman working for the megacorporation Yamakura-Stichen as a technician until a custody dispute with her ex-husband goes entirely in his
...more
Julia
Apr 07, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
The premise of this book is really interesting; Piercy's parallel of the medieval legend about the Golem of Prague works very well with the creation of a "cyber golem" in a dystopian future. The alternating chapters between Rabbi Loew's Prague golem and Avram's YOD are done very well--and the message is clear in both cases. Whether using mystical chanting or technology, humans do NOT have the right to create beings and use them as slaves.

YOD is my favorite character, although Malkah comes in at
...more
Maria
May 28, 2017 rated it did not like it
You know that great feeling when you run across a book that holds up no matter when it was written?
Well, this is not one of those.
I was very excited about it. Usually i only read the description and look at the average, but don't read reviews - to keep an open mind. So i was very excited about it - potential of great female leads! feminism! history! AI! what's not to like?
Little did i know that i won't be able to go through first 50 pages without cringing constantly.

Written in early 90s and
...more
Anita Fajita Pita
Mar 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017
3.5, rounding up.

I just gotta say, as much as I ultimately LOVE Marge Piercy stories (the two and one poem I've read of hers) I always have a hard time getting through them. I have to chalk it up to her writing style. Because I love her stories, her characters, her unique plots and (still) her rare feminist-in-a-non-chalant-way attitude about all the things. She writes feminism as a fact, not as a future goal or a current struggle; and that enables her to explore social and community dynamics in
...more
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Marge Piercy (born March 31, 1936) is an American poet, novelist, and social activist. She is the author of the New York Times bestseller Gone to Soldiers, a sweeping historical novel set during World War II.

Piercy was born in Detroit, Michigan, to a family deeply affected by the Great Depression. She was the first in her family to attend college, studying at the University of Michigan. Winning a
...more

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