A stand-alone cyperpunk book.

Publication year: 1987
Publication year of the Finnish translation: 2010
Format: print
Page count: 351
Publisher: Avain
Finnish translator: Matti Rosvall

The story is set in a future when humans have learned to manipulate minds directly. They seem to do it mostly for fun and some get money out of it, too. There are several kinds of manipulations from direct mind-to-mind contact to deliberately getting a psychosis. People who do that are called Mindplayers.

Allison Haas, Allie, is a young woman who does Mindplaying without legal permission. Then her friend Jerry Wirerammer brings her a new kind of madcap and Allie uses it. For a short while she goes insane and the effect is so strong that Jerry has to take her to a legal establishment to clear her head. Unfortunately, that means that the police know what they’re doing and they’re both arrested. The Brain Police and offer Allie a deal: identity erasing or becoming one of the Brain Police. Reluctantly, she agrees to go into policing and is put into training.

To me, Allie seems very unsatisfied with her life; to the point that she voluntarily uses mind altering and psychosis-inducing stuff. She’s a very lonely person and Jerry is pretty much her only friend. She doesn’t look favorably on legal Mindplaying but uses illegal techniques quite a lot. She has a hard time adjusting to the training and gets only a few friends.

The world was fascinating. When people are doing mindplaying, the devices are connected to the optical nerve. The natural eyes can’t stand that for long and so most people have replaced their eyes with artificial ones, which are also easier to remove for mindplaying. For some reason the pulling eye out was very icky to me.

The book deals with identity questions. Can there be more than one person in one mind? How much is left of you if you share your mind with someone else? How much is identity based on memories? These are all interesting questions.

Unfortunately, I didn’t connect with Allie at all. She does grow and mature a lot during the book, though.