Why do our robotic dreams seem like nightmares? p3

Glass Houses

Glass Houses

Ruby Kubick, heroine of Laura J. Mixon's Glass Houses, who best presents a rethinking of cyborg gender as she negotiates between not between male and female, but between human and machine. Corporeally, Ruby is equipped with a "beanjack" brain implant, a by-then obsolete "brain web" created of "monofilaments" implanted in the course of her tenure with the fictional Toshiba-Merrill company. This allows her to interface with "waldoes" -- unlike robots, which are programmed, waldoes are operated through virtual reality links with humans. Like Gibson and Cadigan, Mixon reverses the polarity of gender roles usually ascribed to the active/passive and hero/victim dichotomies. In this narrative, it is the woman who rescues the prince from his high tower. Throughout the novel, Ruby, who suffers from agoraphobia -- a typically feminine illness -- progressively moves away from the safe, interior, feminine, domestic sphere of her apartment to the dangerous, masculine, public world of the city. This movement reinscribes her outside of the economy of passive femininity, into the active realm of masculinity, which culminates in her rescue of the male prince, Sidra.

Throughout Glass Houses, Mixon ascribes gender anthropomorphically to machines; Ruby's largest and smallest waldoes, robot-like Golem and tank-like Tiger, are male and her most intricate one, spider-like Rachne, female. However, the beanlink allows Ruby to occupy the bodies of all her waldoes; she "downloads" her awareness into the machines, adopting their point-of-view. This results in a shared perception, which Mixon indicates in the text by combining pronouns with names; when interfacing with her machines, Ruby refers to herself variously as I-Golem, I-Rachne, and I-Tiger: "I'd hoped to reach the building before Howler Felix hit the coast, but I-Golem wasn't halfway up the scaffolding when hot rain exploded from the low cloud ceiling, pounding Golem's metal shell and blurring my-his vision" (Mixon, 1992, p. 1). Conversely, when Ruby is physically present with and occupies the vantage point of the waldo, she refers to herself as object:
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