Handies

Virtual Hand Performances

2016-05-06T17:32:48+09:00

With VR and bionic hands both very real and more accessible than ever, it seems worth bringing up one minor technology in Fritz Leiber's 1953 novel The Green Millenium.

Just some of the many different covers; more here

A "handie" was both a glove-like television accessory and the pieces (whether song or story-like) that made use of it. A passage that describes it:

Through half closed lids, whose lashes blurred everything, Phil watched the ghostly pale yellow circle of the window, which was all the illumination he could bear now. He hadn’t put on any lights when the sun had set and the sodium mirror above the stratosphere made the only light, and minutes ago he’d switched off the TV screen although the girl’s voice still crooned a sex song and he still wore the fat mitten of the handie. But the pressure of her fingers, holding a hydraulically compartmented artificial hand and transmitting over the airwaves an electric signal to change pressures of the hydraulic compartments of the handie, began to feel like that of a skeleton wearing rubber gloves. Phil jerked off the handie, switched off the voice, lit a cigarette, and was back with his problem.

While handies are never really a key plot element, they do appear repeatedly as part of the scenery of the book. It's interesting to consider that they're now a genuine possibility.

As to the rest of the book? It's been too long since I read it to give an honest review, but I remember it as one of Leiber's most over-the-top novels, and an enjoyable one. Maybe time for another look. Ψ