Saturday, January 31, 2015

The perfect robotic slave

I've had golems on the brain for a few years, thinking about the mind control possibilities associated with an utterly will-less slave. In fact, if I ever get around to writing that Tenpack of Trixies sequel I once hinted about, it's going to feature a woman turned into a golem.

I guess most people know what golems are these days, although they were pretty esoteric "monsters" when I was a kid. I only knew about them because I was into horror stories and supernatural stuff in general. But if you don't know what they are, I'll tell you: they're basically robots made of clay that have been brought to life by rabbinic magic.

At the moment I'm reading a damn good book called The Golem and the Jinni. I'm telling you how good it is right up front because even if I weren't writing about it here to highlight the MC element, I'd still be talking about the book somewhere just to recommend that people read it. It's just a great story, period. But since this is a blog about mind control, I'll focus on that MC element like I know you want me to.

In this book the golem is female and looks completely human (both of which are unusual traits among her kind). She was created to be the wife of a man who dropped dead almost the moment he "woke" her, and since then she's been masterless...sort of. You'll see what I mean in a minute. The golem is living in 1899/1900 New York City, where she's become friends with a masterless jinni. The jinni was freed from a flask in which he'd been trapped for about 1000 years, and he has no memory of how he got in there. He just has an iron band around his wrist that limits his powers, and a vague memory of a wizard clamping it on him - which enslaved him. But the wizard is apparently long dead and the jinni is mostly free. He's not bound to anyone now, but he's stuck in human form and has other frustrating limitations.

Now here's a passage where the golem and the jinni talk about their pasts, the attraction and horror of being someone's mindless slave. I think you'll like it.

She shook her head. "You misunderstand me. Each golem is built to serve a master. When I woke, I was already bound to mine. To his will. I heard his every thought, and I obeyed with no hesitation."

"That's terrible," the Jinni said.

"To you, perhaps. To me it felt like the way things were meant to be. And when he died - when that connection left me - I no longer had a clear purpose. Now I'm bound to everyone, if only a little. I have to fight against it, I can't be solving everyone's wishes. But sometimes at the bakery where I work, I'll give someone a loaf of bread - and it answers a need. For a moment, that person is my master. And in that moment, I'm content. If I were as independent as you wish you were, I'd feel I had no purpose at all."

He frowned. "Were you so happy, to be ruled by another?"

"Happy is not the word," she said. "It felt right."

"All right, then let me ask you this. If by some chance or magic you could have your master back again, would you wish it?"

It was an obvious question, but one that she had never quite asked herself. She'd barely known Rotfeld, even to know what sort of man he was. But then, couldn't she guess? What sort of man would take a golem for a wife, the way a delivery man might purchase a new cart?

But oh, to be returned to that certainty! The memory of it rose up, sharp and beguiling. And she wouldn't feel as though she was being used. One choice, one decision - and then, nothing.

"I don't know," she said at last. "Maybe I would. Though in a way, I think it would be like dying. But perhaps it would be for the best. I make so many mistakes, on my own."

There was a noise from the Jinni, something not quite a laugh. His mouth was a hard line; he stared up beyond the trees, as though he couldn't bear to look at her.

"I said something to offend you," she said.

"Don't do that," he snapped. "Don't look into me."

"I didn't need to," she retorted. An unaccustomed defiance was rising in her. She'd given him an honest answer, and apparently it had repelled him. Well, so be it. If he didn't want her company, she could find her own way home. She was no child, whatever he thought.

She'd half decided to turn back toward Broadway, but then he said, "Do you remember what I told you before? That I was captured, but have no memory of it?"

"Yes, of course I remember."

"I have no idea," he said, "how long I was that man's servant. His slave. I don't know what he made me do. I might have done terrible things. Perhaps I killed for him. I might have killed my own kind." There was a tight edge in his voice, painful to hear. "But even worse would be if I did it gladly. If he robbed me of my will, and turned me against myself."

Now go buy the book. You know you want to.


K said...

Interesting. I might have to look into this.

thrall said...

I hope you will! I finished the book yesterday, reading the second half in one huge gulp, and it was fantastic.

Andrew said...

Thanks for reminding me of this. I actually purchased it, but then a few other books jumped in front of it and it somehow fell off the list. I should get it back into the currently reading list.

thrall said...

Glad to help! And I hope the two of you will let me know what you think of it.

Andrew said...

A few books got between the book I was on when you wrote this and when I got to finish it. (As a general announcement: No one should give a book to a co-worker, say they should read it, but no hurry, give it back whenever. The co-worker (me in this case) is then obligated to drop everything read it, in order to make sure it gets back to the owner.) I finally got around to reading this, and really enjoyed it.

Anyway, the book. I kept on reading the two major characters as two different aspects of submission. Some want to feel such sense of submission that their own desires and ego nearly disappear. Some wan to feel dominated, and feel it taken away from them. Chava can barely imagine a point of view that totally in service to another. Ahmad on the other hand mostly can view himself from what was taken from him.

Dan Savage occasionally remarks that you can find two kinds to people at a kink event. You can find people who were kinky their whole lives (who as a kid were having friends tie them up in their jump ropes, etc.) and can't think of an age that they weren't fascinated by it. Then there were some who never thought about it until they met a kinky partner, but became so enamored with it that they took this kink to the next relationship and the next. I can also see Chava and Ahmad through that lens.

And that scene with Anna near the end? So hot!

While reading this book, I noticed a copy showed up at my synagogue's library. I usually save books so that I can re-read, reference them, or lend them out if someone asks for it. Maybe this one I'll find an interested friend and pass it onto them. (I can borrow it from the library if I need it back.)

thrall said...

I'm glad you liked it as much as I did! And yes, the scene with Anna (and let's not forget Chava's part!) was incredible. I think I see what you're getting at with Ahmad's point of view concerning submission, except that he never does become a fetishist. He hates what happened to him and doesn't want it to ever happen again. Chava is the fetishist.

Anyway, you're a good person to actually give the book *back* to your coworker. ;-) Most people I've loaned books to never gave them back at all!