In the future of Mindplayers people can interface other peoples minds directly, they also inject psychoses of other people like people do drugs today. But that’s not the limit, the whole mind is open, whole personalities of famous people are stolen and sold on the black market, people who feel inferior with themselves and want to be someone else are their customers.
In that frightening future the main character of the novel, Allie, has fallen into the hands of the brain police. She has two choices, either going to prison or to learn to work as a mindplayer and help other people. Mindplayers are those who interface other peoples minds directly to help them directly at the source of their psychological problem. Yet there are many different types of Mindplayers, for many different kinds of problems.
But interfacing others is never just a one way road, and through her work Allie learns also many things about herself. But while she is growing as a person, the one person who was responsible for her falling into the hands of the brain police is slowly destroying his own mind, piece for piece. And she has to wonder if it wasn’t a good thing that she had been captured by the police, thanks to her friend, since his life could have been easily her life.
Cadigan’s best novel is a fix-up of many short stories combined together to build the tapestry of one life. Every short story allowed the exploration of one interesting aspect of this future, yet the whole reads like a novel with an ongoing greater story. When I first read the book I literally couldn’t stop reading until I had completed it. And then I read it a second time, because the book was nothing short of brilliant. More than in any other of her stories or novels, Cadigan has rigorously made a future that is filled with so many details that one feels as if she had been there, the main character and her development is deeply absorbing and I was sad when I reached the end of the book.