The Girl Who Was Plugged In is a fantastic novella that raises philosophical questions about the political systems, the role of gender, the perception of human life, and the necessity to obey to survive. The author of the book is an American writer Alice Sheldon who decided to create her books under a pen name James Tiptree. This is a crucial detail as Tiptree paid specific attention to the attitude towards a woman’s appearance and self-presentation. It is possible to assume that the author decided to choose a masculine pen mane to avoid gender discrimination in the sphere of fantasy books as most of the writers are male.
The question of total control is a noticeable issue in the plot of the novella. The corporations have enough power to violate governmental laws and establish their own rules. What is more, they can influence the processes of life and death, to give the definitions to such notions as freedom, love, support, and desire. The purpose of this essay is to prove that in the world created by the author, companies impact human identity and control the system without any restrictions. This thesis would be supported by the arguments from the book, such as the description of the functioning of GTX and the analysis of the differences between P. Burke and Delphi.
The paradox is concentrated not only on the idea that P. Burke has to die to survive but also on the hypothesis of the impossibility to be powerful without being violent. In the world of the future described by Tiptree, companies are not allowed to have advertising (2). However, in the capitalistic system, the level of concurrence is high; that is why the organizations have to promote their products to be profitable. The researcher Rhee claims that there are many abstract formulations and implications on the alternative future in the plot (449). Capitalism should not be underestimated as the economic policy as it may be beneficial for the citizens in case of introducing fair laws on the governmental level.
In the story, human dignity and the perception of the value of a person’s life are questioned. On the one hand, the real personality is P. Burke, who controls the actions of Delphi (Tiptree, 10). The author does not describe her as a woman; she uses such epithets as “carcass” and “pumped-out hulk” (Tiptree 11, 3). On the opposite, the robot that does not have the willpower or the freedom of thoughts is characterized as “flawless” (Tiptree 7). The description of the two women shows the diversity of their roles: P. Burpe is perceived as a mechanism being a human being, and the technological robot Delphi is defined as a real personality.
The story of P. Burke is an illustration of the case when promotion becomes the primary purpose of society. The author raises the question of human dignity and free will, which are violated by powerful corporations. GTX changes the laws of the state for its benefit regardless of the rules of ethics and morality. The story is a warning to the modern generation of consumption, where the products and services are more important than relationships and human values. The capitalist system and technological progress are dangerous for the population, which has a risk of becoming only the operators for the robots and functional parts of the advertising mechanism.
Rhee, Jennifer. “Finance Speculation, Indeterminacy, and Unforeclosed Futures in James Tiptree, Jr.’s The Girl Who Was Plugged In.” Science Fiction Studies, vol. 46, no. 3, 2019, pp. 449-469.
Tiptree, James. The Girl who was Plugged in. Tom Doherty Associates, 1989.