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Machine Man (Vintage Contemporaries Original) Paperback – August 9, 2011

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Product Details

  • Series: Vintage Contemporaries Original
  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Original edition (August 9, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307476898
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307476890
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.8 x 7.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (105 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #374,573 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"Wickedly entertaining, a brilliant book: caustically funny, and-by its closing chapter-surprisingly moving." --Scott Smith, author of The Ruins

"Using precision-engineered prose, Max Barry has built a gleaming, terrifying device: part love story, part horror story, part thought experiment, all entertaining." --Charles Yu, author of How To Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe

"A meticulously devised, deviant little parable--once it starts, you can't look away." --Austin Grossman, author of Soon I Will Be Invincible

About the Author

Max Barry began removing parts at an early age. In 1999, he successfully excised a steady job at tech giant HP in order to upgrade to the more compatible alternative of manufacturing fiction. While producing three novels, he developed the online nation simulation game NationStates, as well as contributing to various open source software projects and developing religious views on operating systems. He did not leave the house much. For Machine Man, Max wrote a website to deliver pages of fiction to readers via email and RSS. He lives in Melbourne, Australia, with his wife and two daughters, and is 38 years old. He uses vi.

More About the Author

Max Barry (1973-) is the author of five novels, including "Lexicon," the New York Times Notable Book "Jennifer Government," and "Syrup," now a film starring Amber Heard. He is the creator of the online political simulation game "NationStates," for which he is far more famous among high school students and poli-sci majors than his novels. He lives in Melbourne, Australia, with his wife and two daughters.

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Customer Reviews

This is a very well written story.
Amazon Customer
The few characters are quite interesting, and as a person who is a bit of an introvert I found the main character easy to relate to.
S. Horwatt
I think the book is either too short, or too long.
David Hood

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

27 of 32 people found the following review helpful By TChris TOP 100 REVIEWER on July 28, 2011
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
If a body is just a collection of replaceable parts, if love is just a sensation induced by a swirl of brain chemicals, then what is man?

Charles Neumann loves machines; he's a mechanical engineer who, as a child, dreamed of being a train. As a teen, after nearly being run over by a guy driving a Viper -- a guy who then abused him for not getting out of the way -- Neumann wondered when it was that beautifully engineered machines like the Viper became superior to humans, who often wind up being useless jerks. Now an adult, Neumann has a big brain, no social skills, and an isolated life. When he loses a leg in a lab accident, the injury only encourages his inclination to remain apart from others. Given a choice of prosthetic replacements and seeing nothing he likes, Neumann tries out the state-of-the-art model, breaks it, then decides to build one of his own: a leg that not only walks by itself, but decides for itself how to get where it needs to go. Finally happy with the design of his mechanical leg, he becomes dissatisfied with the biological one. You can guess what he does next.

Man's dependence on technology and what that dependence does to us is Machine Man's driving theme. Machine Man also takes a satirical look at corporate willingness to sacrifice human concerns for the sake of profit. Neumann's employer (Better Future) has been reluctant to develop medical technology because medical advances might render the technology obsolete. If, after investing in the development of an artificial heart, medical researchers cured heart disease, Better Future would view that public health benefit as a disaster. Artificial replacements for healthy limbs and organs, however, offer unlimited growth potential.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By BJ Fraser VINE VOICE on October 10, 2011
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
There are a lot of books that start off with a good idea, but then fade with the execution of that idea. "Machine Man" is one of those. It starts off with a good concept, but doesn't deliver.

Dr. Charles Neumann is an engineer who's always gotten along better with machines than people. He works at Better Future, a research and development company that creates all sorts of products. One day Charles is looking for his phone in the lab when he accidentally gets his leg torn of by a machine.

Charles is rushed to the hospital, where he meets Lola, who works with prostheses. She shows him the variety of legs they have available and Charles laments how primitive they are. So after returning to work, he decides to invent something better. Which he does. He creates mechanical legs that are stronger, faster, better.

But Charles doesn't want to stop there. Nor does Better Future want him to.

I had to sympathize with Charles at the beginning. When I get blisters from my stupid hammertoes I wonder why I can't get sweet robot feet that wouldn't blister or get tired. Then I could walk all day if I wanted to! At the same time I don't think I'd want to cut off my own legs to do that. Nor would I want to turn myself into Robocop.

That's basically what happens to Charles as the book goes on. Increasingly he becomes more machine than man as Ben Kenobi said about Darth Vader. It's harder to sympathize with him then as the book goes on. Really after the interesting concept at the start it keeps getting darker and darker. That's not really where I wanted to see it go. I was hoping for something a little more lighthearted, as it was in the beginning. But I guess if you like your humor really black, then this isn't bad.

That is all.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By H. Agha on February 14, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This was my fourth Max Barry read. I was expecting the same fast paced, funny, smart and unique storyline that I liked in his other books I've read, in this order: Syrup, Jennifer Government and Company.

Alas, Machine Man is not funny, smart or unique. I have read that the author created the core of this book as part of an online page-by-page writing exercise with feedback from readers incorporated into the progressing story. Well, that experiment failed. This book is frustrating. It is definitely fast paced though.

Despite all its flaws, I finished it. I never stop reading books in the middle, just like I don't walk out of a movie theater. I gave it a good chance, all the way till the last page, yet I never got to like the protagonist. He is not at all like Barry's other leads. Unlike how in his other books the heroes get better and smarter over time, Dr. Neumann gets stupider and more selfish as the story progresses. He never redeems himself or even shows any desire to. He's also predictable to the nth degree. Yes, I get it: he wants to be a machine; he doesn't understand human emotion. And yes, there is a place for stories like this and authors who make them readable. But Max Barry is not one of those authors. Stick to writing satire, buddy.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Thad Wasielewski on May 6, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Before I begin writing this review, I feel compelled to point out that there are spoilers below. You've been warned.

The problem I have with this book is that none of the characters are in any way sympathetic or interesting. Our protagonist, Charlie Neumann, struck me as somewhat mentally ill with the mentality of a spoiled child. The supporting cast is a largely one-dimensional collection of stereotypes, from the middle manager who combines the stereotypical feminine shallow woman with the buzzword-spewing pointy-haired boss from Dilbert to the cartoonishly evil CEO giving speeches about world domination. So rather than being drawn into the story, I felt more like an apathetic observer watching a dull personal drama in which I have no real stake.

The love story suffers a lot from this. The aforementioned protagonist is depicted as a brilliant man who can construct robotic body parts that can connect to the internet but has no ability to connect with other humans or desire to learn how to. In other words, he's the humorous stereotype of an engineer as a technologically brilliant man with no idea of how personal hygiene, social interaction, or the opposite gender works - which can be funny as a supporting character or one-off gag, but isn't strong enough here to sustain a novel. His love interest is the prosthetist Lola Shanks, who is attracted to him not because of who he is or what he represents, but because of her daddy issues leading to a fetish for prosthetics. Another character even comments on the amount of men Lola has brought home due to her fetish.
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