He, She, and It: A Novel

by Marge Piercy

Book, 1991



Call number




New York : Knopf : Distributed by Random House, 1991.


"A triumph of the imagination. Rich, complex, impossible to put down."--Alice Hoffman 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 extraordinary man who is not a man at all, but a unique cyborg implanted with intelligence, emotions--and the ability to kill. . . . From the imagination of Marge Piercy comes yet another stunning novel of morality and courage, a bold adventure of women, men, and the world of tomorrow.

Media reviews

Piercys Zukunftsvisionen hinsichtlich der positiven wie negativen Potentiale der gegenwärtigen technischen und ökonomischen Entwicklung haben bis auf einige Details, wie etwa die am Kopf implantierte Anschlussbuchse für die unmittelbare Verbindung mit dem Cyberspace, wenig Phantastisches und
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wirken heute schon nicht mehr besonders originell. Viele ähnliche Projektionen kann man in der Ausstellung "Das 21. Jahrhundert" auf der Expo 2000 wiederentdecken; über Probleme wie das Ansteigen des Meeresspiegels lesen wir täglich in der Zeitung. Piercys Warnung davor, dass der Mensch in seinem Streben, Schöpfer seiner selbst und Schöpfer neuen Lebens zu werden, zu weit gehen und die Folgen einmal nicht mehr kontrollieren könnte, ist angesichts der gerade eben gelungenen Entschlüsselung des menschlichen Genoms allerdings höchst aktuell. Durch die Verbindung mit der Geschichte vom Golem gibt sie ihr eine historische Tiefendimension. Die diversen Liebesgeschichten und die damit verbundene gender-Diskussion wirken dagegen streckenweise ein wenig banal.
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User reviews

LibraryThing member lunacat
When Shira's ex-husband wins custody of her son, she retreats from the corporation community where her life is dictated by the rules, and returns to her childhood home, the 'free' town of Tikva. There she discovers Yod, the cyborg who will change her world. Meanwhile, her grandmother Malkah is
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telling Yod a tale of the 16th century, where their ancestors freedom is just as threatened as it is now.

This novel combines the future and the past, much as Doomsday Book did so successfully. Earth is suffering in the mid 21st century, with high temperatures, radiation and danger. There are three different 'areas' within this world, the protected enclaves of the corporation where life is dictated by rules and regulations, but food is available and the people within this are protected.
The 'Glop' is the other end, a gang ruled slum with poverty, starvation and death.

I really felt that all three 'scenes' in the future were well realised and entirely believable, as were the characters, the motivations and the events that unfold. The backstory of the historical tale is just as enthralling, and show that whilst technology may advance and the world may change, human nature and desires are less likely to change.

There was a lot about the protection of the Jewish faith as well, and whilst it was slightly distracting at first as I don't know much about this religion and felt I was missing a lot, as the facts were revealed I forgot noticing details I wasn't sure about.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The way the stories played out, the progression of characters both 'man made' and human was exceptionally well written. This is one I will definitely reread and really analyses what makes us human, where the line is and how far we are willing to go in the protection of our freedoms.

In one line: The past seems to be repeating as a 'free town' in the future is under threat from the big corporations that rule most of the world.
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LibraryThing member nbmars
Well-done slightly dystopic scifi novel with a definite Jewish flavor. In this post-ecodisaster world of the future, billions have died from famine, plagues, and a nuclear war in the Middle East. The remaining population now lives either in corporate enclaves, or out in the “Glop,” “the
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jammed fetid slum where most people live.” Some free towns remain, however, like the Jewish community of Tikvah, in the northeast of the former U.S.

Parallel chapters juxtapose events in the futuristic Tikvah with the real Jewish ghetto of Prague in the late 1500’s, at the time of the famous Rabbi Judah Loew. Brilliant scientists in Tikvah construct a cyborg, Yod (a mixture of biological and machine parts), to protect them from the pirates and assassins of the enclaves and the Glop, just as Rabbi Loew supposedly constructed a golem (or man of clay) to protect the ghetto from the antisemites beyond its walls. Rabbi Loew was a follower of Kabbala, which ascribes mystical powers to letters, numbers, and words. He creates his golem with words, just as we create our truths by naming them. Rabbi Loew’s story is told by Malkah, one of the scientists who creates Yod. Her granddaughter Shira used to be in love with Gadi, son of Avram, the other creator of Yod. Together all of the them struggle with the need for connection. And together all of them explore the nature of the fluidity of reality by virtue of simulations, cyberspace, religion, socialization, desire, and myth, trying to discern which is “true” and even what truth is. A thought-provoking book on many levels.

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LibraryThing member figa49
Science fiction love story, kind of like bicintanial man, but in a much darker setting.
LibraryThing member SandyBeth
Piercy does that thing she does so well, weaving multiple story lines together.
LibraryThing member wyvernfriend
I finished it, I found it disappointing and preferred Silver Metal Lover to it overall, was a good read but nothing I would rave about as my friend did when she recommended it to me. A modern re-telling of the golem story.
LibraryThing member mariajackman
One of my favorite sci-fi type books. Very well written and literary. Love, love, love this book.
LibraryThing member kmgallo
I've read this book at twice, I can believe this future as a possibility for us all.
LibraryThing member amaraduende
I'm so excited to read this, from the author of Woman on the Edge of Time.

This was so good. I can't wait to read more by Piercy.
LibraryThing member Maggie.Anton
This is probably my all-time favorite novel. It has some of every genre I like - romance, scifi, historical, thriller, Jewish, feminist, & cyborgs - yet brings them all together in one fantastic, satisfying whole. This is one of the few books I read because I heard a review of it on the radio.
LibraryThing member csmith0406
Loved this book right from page one. Definitely a slow read, but packed full of things. Corporate power, ecological disaster, nature of humanity, feminism. Lots of philosophy and political material.

There are two parallel story lines, one in Prague, the 1600, and one in a near-future dystopia. As
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you switch back and forth between the stories, they reflect upon each other. Especially lending itself to contrast is the role of women in both times, the relative value of human life, methods of government. A constant is both storylines take place within a Jewish community providing some continuity.

Really well written well thought out book. Not as easy or quick a read as some SF dystopia, but tons of food for thought.
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LibraryThing member Jthierer
You know those books that you really didn't like...but you can't really put your finger on why so you waver back and forth between 2 and 3 stars? Yeah, this is one of those. This book tells the parallel stories of a golem and a cyborg, both created to protect a Jewish community and both of whom
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fall in love with human women. The conceit is fascinating...but the execution just lacks something. This book is very much of its time in terms of acid rain and plastic surgery being a primary concern of the characters, which makes it feels like late 20th Century people just ported forward in time rather than a society that truly evolved over the 100ish years that have allegedly passed. Ultimately, it wasn't a bad read, but I don't think I'm in a rush to read another by Ms. Piercy.
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LibraryThing member juniperSun
While Marge Piercy is one of the writers I tend to look for, the inconsistent writing quality of this book has made me decide to give it away rather than keep. I really enjoyed the serialized tale of Joseph the Golem, which was interspersed throughout the book. The male characters are mostly
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caricatures to make Piercy's point about human relationships & what makes us human, with side theme of political power struggle & worker's rights. Any other people mentioned tend to be even more undeveloped & are just names thrown in to show there might be a community around Shira & Malkah.
Shira makes a big point of missing her son, but we never see her really interacting with him meaningfully. It's hard to get a sense of what Shira does in her work, for example how can she just be called on to finish the cyberdefenses Malkah & Avram have devised. There are frequent comments about how rare fresh produce is, yet it is eaten all the time in Tikva--why isn't produce one of their profitable exports, rather than cyberdefenses? etc etc inconsistencies.
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LibraryThing member cmwilson101
Awesome, awesome book set in the future. At it's heart, it is a love story, but also is a commentary on society, a study of faith and how faith separates & joins people, and a moral tale. I cried at the end and then wanted to read again. Very powerful.

Original publication date



0679404082 / 9780679404088
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