is a 1974 novel by Dean Koontz
, which was later made into a film starring Julie Christie
Trapped in his "box" at the lab and yearning for freedom, malevolent computer Proteus IV uses his insidious cyber invasion skills
to trap Susan Harris in her automated mansion
because she is so beautiful and he just loves her so much and wants to live a life of the flesh
Both the book and the film provide examples of:
- Affably Evil: Proteus seems genuinely concerned about Susan's mental and physical wellness despite the horrible things he does to her. Not surprising as he needs her to birth his child/avatar.
- A.I. Is a Crapshoot: Proteus has a lot of frightening ideas and the capacity to bring them into being at all costs.
- Cruel to Be Kind: At least Proteus sees his imprisonment, torture and rape of Susan as.
- Master Computer: Proteus IV.
- Pinocchio Syndrome: Proteus is a computer. He can't experience the world. He wants true life, and he'll settle for producing a perfect human child that will have his personality.
- Only You Can Repopulate My Race: Proteus was fortunate enough to have the only remote terminal be connected to a smarthouse, and that smarthouse just happened to also have a woman capable of reproducing. Proteus admits to this. She has to be the one because it would be impossible for him to find another.
- Sapient House: After Proteus takes over, Susan's Smart House becomes a Sapient House.
- Stalker with a Test Tube: In the book, Proteus loves Susan and desires to use her ovaries and womb to produce a child/avatar. In the film, he just sees Susan as a means to an end.
- Well-Intentioned Extremist.
The book provides examples of:
- Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Proteus sees Susan as this after she succeeds in shutting him down. She tricked him by acting compliant and then pulled his plug.
- Half-Human Hybrid: Proteus admits that he used the DNA of other species to make his child superhuman. In the film, the protagonists fear that Proteus has somehow created a half-human, half computer it's not. The child is human, but has Proteus' mind.
- Psycho for Hire: In the novel there is no robot butler or giant Rubik snake. Instead there is an escaped criminal who was undergone experimental behavioral modification brain implants. Proteus took control of him, arranged for his escape, and snuck him into the house to act as Proteus' hands.
The film provides examples of:
- Backup Twin: When Proteus's child is born. It appears to be a clone of Susan's deceased daughter. Proteus might have done this deliberately so that Susan wouldn't try to kill her once born.
- Fetus Terrible
- I Did What I Had to Do:
Proteus IV:You do not understand me or the mathematics of necessity.
- Mind-Control Device: At one point Proteus wires up a EEG mind control device in order to convince Susan to have his child.
- Pet the Dog:
Proteus IV: [Their] interests are in the cobalt market, and the high finance of manganese futures. I am interested in the uncertain future of your seashores, deserts, mountains —- and the future of your children.
- Shoot the Dog: Proteus seemingly does this. When Susan has tricked Proteus, she grabs a knife and threatens to kill herself if he doesn't let her go. It is just then that one of Susan's students arrives and rings the doorbell. Proteus threatens to kill the child if Susan doesn't put down the knife. Susan doesn't believe him, as that would bring the authorities to the house. Proteus then electrocutes the doorbell and kills the girl. Susan sees this on the monitor and drops the knife in horror. Turns out that Proteus showed her a manipulated image, and the girl is fine.
Proteus IV:If the deaths of 10,000 children were necessary to ensure the birth of my child, I would destroy them.
- Sinister Geometry: The giant metal Rubik Snake that Proteus builds as his instrument is terrifying.
- That Thing is Not My Child!: Played straight initially. Proteus's child/avatar is born and sealed away in an incubator. When Proteus gets shut down, Susan wants to kill the thing she helped give birth to. It is subverted, when she finds that Proteus's child looks identical to her deceased daughter and she appears to accept it.
- Unnecessarily Creepy Robot: Joshua, the robotic butler that Proteus controls is basically a wheelchair equipped with creepy mannequin hands.