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The Identity Matrix
by Jack L. Chalker


p.49 The world was certainly effectively organized to deny any basics of life to a thirty-five-year-old pre-teenager.

p.109 We begin as little babies, but there it departs. Everything in a boy's life is a competition. Winning. Sports. Fighting to establish pecking orders in gangs. Showing off. But, you see, the necessary basic training is there because men can't do anything else. Women now have the same career choices as man, but they can opt not to work, to have and raise babies, their choices clear early in life. Men have only the sense of purpose in the job. Even if they marry, the law gives the man the obligation to support the wife and kids, and in a divorce gives the kids almost invariably to the mother while making Dad pay for it, even if mom's a cultist murderer with a fifty-thousand-dollar-a-year job while Dad's a kind, devoted, loving ten-thousand-dollar-a-year janitor. He has no rights, only responsibilities, and no real options. No wonder men die so much earlier than women."

p.109-110 "It's no picnic as a woman, either," Dory responded. "We get the dolls, the toy stoves, the frilly little dresses. We rarely get the attention our brothers do, the preparation for something big. Then along comes puberty and you get periods that make you feel yucky, and suddenly you can't go to the store alone. If your parents aren't scared for you then you soon get scared for yourself. Rape becomes a threat that you live with. You envy your brother going downtown alone to pick up something at the tore or to take in a movie. The boys have one thing in mind. I was seventeen before my parents would trust me out on a date after dark! And most girls have to decide in the college years--career or family. The pressure's big, you get hurt fast and often, and if, like me, you're good looking, you're even more limited. It's understood you'll work for awhile until you get married and settle down, but aside from modeling or show business or something like that you can get any job--if you want to pay the price for keeping it, and you don't expect to go anywhere.
     "Pretty women aren't supposed to be smart, and they don't have to be. You quickly learn what you're expected to do to get what you want--and either you do it, or don't and go nowhere, or get married and settle down. You get a dozen passes just going to lunch. You wind up a prisoner in your own without options at all. You know, I really envied men. I had two older brothers and I really wanted to be one of them. Come and go when you please, free to pick and choose careers, free to be left alone in a crowded party if you felt like it. No period, no danger of getting pregnant, none of that."

p.117 He'd been in the United States most of his life but he still couldn't tell the difference between a V and a W.

p.121 Let's start by saying the brain is everything. The most incredible, complex, and vonderful computer ever designed. It is made up of cells called neurons that are so densely packed that there one hundred thousand of them in a square inch! And interconnected by ten thousand miles or so of nerves. The whole brain contains over ten trillion neurons--a staggering number, bigger than ve can really conceive. So much ve don't have time to fill it all up.
     But the brain is a prisoner, you see, an isolated thing with no sensations, not even pain. It is totally input-dependent for its information, and this input comes from everywhere else in our bodies--eyes, ears, nose, throat, and the nerve cells that cover our bodies inside. It can be fooled--that is the basis of hypnosis. If it can be convinced by its receptors, its input, that something false is true, it accepts it. It has no independent vay of checking out that information.

p.122-124 "Now let's go back to the brain itself," Eisenstadt went on. "Although retrieval is holographic, storage is not really so. The hologram is constructed in the cerebrum from the retrieved data. How is the data stored? Vell, all the input, all the information from your senses, goes to the cerebrum--but not as you perceive them. All external stimuli are instantly converted into brain language--and that brain language is chemical in nature. But there are two languages. One, the holographic one, is transmitted to the brain. There it is broken down into bytes of information and recorded. Each byte becomes a synapse, a chemical messenger that is hustled along and routed by a tiny electrical impulse. Each little messenger gets to the brain where neurons route it according to the matrix, to its proper place, when it gets to the proper place the individual neuron in charge, as it were, makes a tiny copy in its own individual language. All this incredible speed, you understand. Like trillions of tiny chemical tape recorders, infinitely specialized, who record t his message ven the chemical runs past its little recording head.
     "Ven you remember something, or use something, or need to retrieve something, then the command is sent out from the real 'you'--your cerebral command center--and, instantly, the little bits of information that apply rush back with copies of the information needed--copies, note, the original stays there--where the cerebrum integrates this information into a holographic picture. An idea. A memory. You name it. Naturally, the information most frequently used is the easiest to get at. The less it is used the more difficult it is to get at that information--you 'try to remember' but can't, quite, because you have had no need for it for so long the track is overgrown with veeds. It has to be this way. Most information you get from cradle to grave simply isn't needed or relevant, no matter how big it vas at the time, so to speak, to make room in the more efficient areas for pressing stuff. Once out of the main matrix and off in that closet, it becomes hard to find, like any attic overfilled with unused and unvanted stuff, becoming even harder as you grow older as those closets fill with all the junk. That's why much of the brain appears to be doing nothing and ve don't even miss some of that stuff if it has to be removed, say, in an operation."

p.194 A well-meaning, idealistic scientist who could change the world from a computer terminal but forgot things like money, an alien cut off from his species and an unknown quality beneath his slick veneer, a Navajo girl of uncertain personality and little background for such intrigue, and a former male science professor now happy of a voluptuous blond bombshell of a stripper. What an insane team.

p.237 And knowing that body-switching was not only possible but was being practiced by all sorts of creatures, including the U.S. Government, removed any last stigma that might linger in the mind about love between two women. When men could become women, or women, men, at the flick of a switch or the touch of an alien hand, what difference did your body really make? Tall, short, fat, thin, old, young, male, female, black, white, red, yellow...all irrelevant.

p.275 There is a planetary solid there, very dense, but we don't live on it. We live in the middle of the atmosphere itself, kind of like fish in water. It's quite hard to describe, but on many gas giants the protein molecules that form life are found in wide bands of gases heated by radiation from the pressure below and maintained there. We don't ever touch the solid below--the pressure alone, not to mention the heat, would kill us.

p.303 Show the finest minds in a field that someone can do something they can't and give them almost unlimited funds and resources and they will almost certainly do it.