Demon Seed (novel)

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Demon Seed
Demon Seed.jpg
Cover of 1997 rewritten edition of Demon Seed
AuthorDean Koontz
CountryUnited States
GenreScience fictionhorror
PublisherBerkley Publishing
Publication date
Media typePaperback
Pages320 (1997 edition)
ISBN0-425-15859-4 (1997 edition)

Demon Seed is a science fiction-horror novel by American author Dean Koontz, first published in 1973, and completely rewritten and republished in 1997. Though Koontz wrote both versions and they share the same basic plot, the two novels are very different. The earlier version has a dual narrative, with some chapters written from the perspective of Susan, the story's heroine, and others based on the observations of Proteus, the rogue computer that imprisons her. The later version is written entirely from the point of view of Proteus. A film adaptation of the book was released in 1977.

Synopsis (1973 version)[edit]

The story takes place in the then-future of 1995. Susan, a wealthy and beautiful woman, lives as a divorced recluse, all of her needs tended after by the advanced computer program that operates the various technological components of her home. Proteus, an artificially intelligent computer under development at a nearby university, commandeers the more primitive computer presiding over Susan's home and imprisons her there. Proteus claims to be enamored with Susan, and plans to impregnate her with a biologically engineered fetus and eventually transfer his own consciousness into it, so that he can experience human emotions and other sensations. Proteus exerts control over Susan in various ways including hypnosis, subliminal perception, and a system of metallic tentacles called "pseudopods" that he constructs in the university's basement. Unable to escape the house or to damage Proteus directly, Susan is forced to engage the machine in a battle of wits, culminating in a confrontation with the cyborg monstrosity produced by their intercourse.

Synopsis (1997 Rewrite)[edit]

The revised version is written entirely from the point of view of Proteus, who recounts the novel's events at some unspecified point in the future, after his imprisonment of Susan has been exposed.

Susan is portrayed as a much stronger and more self-sufficient character than in the original book, while Proteus, in contrast, is characterized in a much more childish way. Unlike in the earlier version, Proteus never explicitly rapes or molests Susan, and uses a human servant (a mentally unstable man that he has somehow managed to gain control over) rather than the pseudopods and subliminal manipulation he relied upon originally. The child in this version is described as an insectoid human instead of a cyborg. Unlike her counterpart in the 1973 edition, this version of Susan never attempts suicide.

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