The Modular Man
|The Modular Man|
|Author(s)||Roger MacBride Allen|
Plot summary 
The novel concerns the issue of personhood and what it takes to be considered a member of the moral universe. There are three main characters: Herbert the vacuum cleaner, who is modified by his owner, David Jantille, a scientist who specializes in figuring out how to "mindload". Mindloading is the act of a human downloading their mind into a machine. A successful mindload entails the death of the human. It is a way for humans to become immortal, if only in the form of vacuum cleaner.
The book begins with the arrest of Herbert, the vacuum cleaner, for David's murder . David's wife, Suzanne Jantille, is a trial attorney who is a quadriplegic as a result of a car crash that also paralyzed her husband. She lives through a "Remote person" who has all human senses except for the ability to feel by touch. She can guide the remote person through a helmet attached to her "bio body", and retrieves all "video and audio" signals through the remote. She can function as a whole human being, but the outside world notices that she is a remote, does not approve.
Suzanne defends Herbie, with the help of an astute journalist and a police officer who has access to documents that she wouldn't otherwise. The book ends with a recognition of David’s humanity due to the ultimate confusion in the courtroom. It also ends with the death of Suzanne’s bio-body, and in turn, her ultimate death.
- The Modular Man by Roger MacBride Allen, Bantam Books, Copyright 1996.
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