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Fiction about suddenly finding out one's past life was controlled - Input Junkie
November 14th, 2014
12:17 am


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Fiction about suddenly finding out one's past life was controlled
I recently read a couple of novels where the protagonist suddenly finds out that one of their parents controlled a tremendous amount of their past life. A great deal of what they thought was their own choice or happenstance was actually a fairly successful effort to manipulate them.

Since this is going to involve major plot points, I'm putting mention of specific stories under a cut. I'll just say that, of the two recent novels and two older short stories I can think of, the modern ones involve evil parents. One parent per character-- we don't get two parents conspiring to control a child.

The older ones are efforts to re-create a dead husband, and as I recall, one is presented as just plain creepy and the other is possibly benevolent.

What stories can you think of about that sort of control?

The two books are Neptune's Brood by Charles Stross and </i>Beautiful You</i> by Chuck Palahniuk.

Note: I recommend Neptune's Brood for vivid weird images even if I'm not entirely sure it makes sense. I found Beautiful You to be enough to have kept my attention, but a really unpleasant and not particularly insightful satire. Think of it as being in the spirit of Fight Club but focused on women and wilder.

Offhand, two older stories with similar control are [Spoiler (click to open)]"When You Care, When You Love" by Theodore Sturgeon and [Spoiler (click to open)]"The Totally Rich" by John Brunner-- neither of these involve parents, though.

From what I've heard, Cherryh's Cyteen might be in the category, but I haven't read it.

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[User Picture]
Date:November 13th, 2014 06:11 pm (UTC)
I immediately thought of Cyteen, myself. It's not a spoiler: it's there from before the beginning. The child is a clone of her mother, who is not completely but almost entirely a bad person with motivations that she thinks are noble. She creates the clone and manipulates every facet of her life that she can in order to recreate the conditions she believes shaped herself.

I guess the spoiler would be about how that turned out.
[User Picture]
Date:November 13th, 2014 06:19 pm (UTC)
The Silver Metal Lover may qualify.

ETA: Joshua, Son of None is about an attempt to recreate JFK, duplicating the home environment and crises and so on of his life.

Edited at 2014-11-13 06:21 pm (UTC)
[User Picture]
Date:November 14th, 2014 02:56 am (UTC)
The Silver Metal Lover was what leapt to mind for me, too, though it's less a hidden conspiracy, and more just the protagonist awakening to the fact that what she has considered a normal amount of maternal involvement in decision-making is (1) total and (2) not actually okay.
[User Picture]
Date:November 14th, 2014 10:25 am (UTC)
I don't think The Silver Metal Love is extreme enough to be what I was thinking of.

Now that I think about it, at least three of the examples I started with (I'm not sure about the Brunner) are clones.
[User Picture]
Date:November 13th, 2014 07:04 pm (UTC)
Mordred? Hm, crossover Mordred meets Orual? Of course in old fiction it was a staple to have a royal baby raised as a peasant.
[User Picture]
Date:November 13th, 2014 07:18 pm (UTC)
Mind Of My Mind by Octavia Butler.

EDIT: Also Cuckoo's Egg by C.J. Cherryh.

That's an interesting compare-and-contrast, because Doro is just as evil as evil can be, whereas Duun is just about as good as good can be.

Edited at 2014-11-13 07:34 pm (UTC)
[User Picture]
Date:November 13th, 2014 11:36 pm (UTC)
Orbital Resonance is about larger-scale manipulation than parents, but it's definitely about detailed manipulation to make the protagonists.
[User Picture]
Date:November 13th, 2014 11:54 pm (UTC)
Sage Walker's Whiteout.
[User Picture]
Date:November 14th, 2014 03:00 am (UTC)
Does The Diamond Age count? It's about a natural experiment in the raising of three girls by technologically intermediated means. One of them eventually figures out there's a human being behind the technology, who has basically been serving as her parent. So it's very much not that that parent controlled very much of the protagonist's life -- part of the tragedy is that this virtual parent was a helpless witness to terrible things happening to the protagonist as a child -- but that as a young adult, the protagonist realizes that she'd had a parent who had been there all along for her, and she hadn't realized it -- and that having that parent there, in even that limited sense, had substantially shaped who she was.

ETA: This isn't a revelation to the reader, who learns about the virtual parent well before the virtual parent figures out they're a virtual parent.

Edited at 2014-11-14 03:03 am (UTC)
Date:November 16th, 2014 07:22 am (UTC)
the snow Queen
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