The Plot

(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

Software and Wetware were written separately. Software begins in Florida, among the pheezers (an abbreviation of “freaky geezers,” a term for elderly people who still retain the culture of the 1960’s). One pheezer, Cobb Anderson, is the man who taught the robots (now known as “boppers”) how to evolve free will by forcing them to reconstitute themselves every ten months, subjecting themselves to cosmic rays to induce mutations. Having attained free will, the boppers rebelled and have been exiled to the Moon.

Cobb is met by a bopper designed to look like him, who has been smuggled onto Earth. Cobb is informed that if he goes to the Moon, the boppers will give him immortality, in return for what he has done for them. He and a young man named Sta-Hi, the son of a government officer named Stan Mooney, go to the Moon.

Meanwhile, on the Moon, Ralph Numbers, the bop-per who led the revolution, undergoes the reconstitution process. Readers learn of the struggle between the big boppers—building-sized robots who want to bring everyone, human and bopper, together in a single consciousness—and the little boppers, who wish to retain independence.

On the moon, Cobb learns that he cannot become immortal in his human body, but the boppers offer immortality to his consciousness—his software—by merging it with theirs. He accepts. He is cut out of his body, but his consciousness survives, and he finds himself inhabiting the imitation Cobb Anderson, back on Earth. Sta-Hi puts on a Happy Cloak, a bit of semisentient plastic, which helps him kill one of the big boppers. He is then sent back to Earth by the little boppers to help foil the big boppers’ plan for universal fusion.

Cobb likes being part of the big boppers’ gestalt, and he starts a religion, called Personetics, that encourages people on Earth to sacrifice their bodies and join the bopper consciousness. Sta-Hi, however, refuses to have anything to do with the process, believing it destroys the soul. Finally, the little boppers destroy the big boppers on the Moon. Sta-Hi destroys the Mr. Frostee truck on Earth that contained the bopper consciousness, thus killing Cobb, and the first bopper effort to merge with humanity is defeated.

Wetware begins ten years later, on the Moon. Humans have driven the boppers out of the Moon’s one city, forcing them to live underground. Sta-Hi has become a private detective known as Stahn Mooney. He has given up drugs after...

(The entire section is 1025 words.)