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Man Plus (SF Masterworks) Paperback – 2000

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Editorial Reviews

Review

Frederik Pohl, one of the old pros of the genre, never takes unnecessary risks. For him, science fiction is a form of play--an excusable indulgence since he plays it so much better than most people. (The New York Times Book Review)

We might expect a Frederik Pohl novel to be solid, competent, thoroughly readable sf, well-plotted and brilliantly dramatized. Man Plus is all of these, and it is also horrifyingly believable, a dark mirror held up to today's world...Man Plus is probably Frederik Pohl's best novel so far, and surely one of the most exciting, brilliantly conceived and capably-written sf novels of the past decade. (John Sladek, Foundation)

Pohl is quietly ready to discuss just about any aspect of literature, science, publishing, or politics, and his decades of experience in speculative fiction make him a trove of knowledge. But don't let his nice-guy reputation fool you. If you're going to brag to Frederik Pohl about not reading science fiction, you'd better duck. (Amazing Stories)

The most consistently able writer science fiction, in all its forms, has yet produced. (Kingsley Amis, author of New Maps of Hell)

Peerless in his own generation, with few equals of any age. One of the 50 most influential people in the Chicago Book World. (Newscity)

One of the grand old men of SF. (Publishers Weekly) --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

Frederik Pohl (1919-2013) Frederik Pohl had an extensive career as both a writer and editor spanning over seventy years. Using various pseudonyms, Pohl began writing in the late 1930s, his first published work being a poem titled "Elegy to a Dead Planet: Luna", which appeared in the October 1937 issue of Amazing Stories. Pohl edited both Astonishing Stories and Super Science Stories between 1939 and 1943 and whilst many of his own stories appeared in these two pulp magazines they were never under his own name. After this period, from 1943 to 1945, Pohl served in the U.S. Army, rising to the rank of sergeant as an air corps weatherman. Between the end of the war and the early '50s, Pohl was active as a literary agent, representing many successful writers of the genre including Isaac Asimov. The winner of multiple Hugo and Nebula awards, Pohl became the SFWA Grand Master in 1993 and was inducted by the Science Fiction Hall of Fame in 1998. He died in September 2013.
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Product Details

  • Series: S.F. Masterworks
  • Paperback: 215 pages
  • Publisher: Gollancz (2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1857989465
  • ISBN-13: 978-1857989465
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.6 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,993,866 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By cargo on August 19, 2004
Format: Paperback
Its Evolution Baby

The evolutionary dream, the end point of human desire, the ability to leave behind the limitations of the Earth and take to the stars, is fraught with it's own limitations. Pohl speculates that, while a hostile environment may kill a person, we can survive because we take a bit of a friendly environment with us. We can take air, food, water and fuel to the Antartic, the Moon, Mars and beyond but the environment remains hostile and the human body, fragile and ill adapted. "Man Plus", as may be evident from the title, is concerned with the possibilities of adapting the human body and how the body itself is tied up with notions of identity and belonging.

The cyborg is familiar at least to Science Fiction readers and has been for many years, so, to most of these veterans, Pohl's ideas may seem rehashed, even clumsy in this age of genetic manipulation. Leaving aside these anachronisms (the book was written in 1976), we see in "Man Plus", the raw power of the cyborg as a work of imagination. This power manifests itself in the predominantly earthbound text in the emotional responses, clinical discourses, whispered asides and outright revulsion of those around the cyborg. Political intrigue as the project is kept from view, as well as carnivalesque musings on cyborg sexuality thicken the texture of Pohl's writing.

The counterpoint to the inhumanity of the cyborg is his superhuman abilities and his adeptness once in the right environment. After the death of the original cyborg, Roger Torraway goes through the intimate manipulations of surgeons as all his organs are removed or bypassed, a computer is attached to his back and "wings" containing solar receptors are installed.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Hexanova on January 11, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
In his book Man Plus, Frederick Pohl mixes the worlds of medicine, cybernetics, and political intrigue into a well thought out tale of a man's journey to Mars. Roger Tarroway, who is a backup in the Man Plus project, suddenly finds himself next in line to be turned into something both wonderful and horrific: a human that can live on the surface of Mars without the need of a suit. But the changes he must go through transform him into something hideous and powerful. Can Roger's mind withstand the changes that he has to go through on an accelerated course? Can he trust his best friend? Will it work? Pohl sets this admist and Earth in peril of destroying itself, and many think that the Man Plus project and the colonization of Mars is the only way to save it from the brink of disaster...and there are other interested parties involved...watching.
Some may find it a little slow or dry in places because there is little action throughout. Pohl's use of the first person "we" at times was a little strange to me in a book written entirely in the third person, but there is a reason for it. While not as tight or emotionally gripping as Pohl's masterpiece Gateway, Man Plus is a well written and executed award winner and deserves to be on the shelf of most sci-fi readers.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Jon on May 7, 2002
Format: Paperback
All in all this was a very good novel. I felt that Frederick Pohl had a brilliant vision for this book, and caried it out in full detail. The story revolves around Roger Torroway, a typical astronaut married to a typical wife living a typical lifestyle. However, Roger is involved in a project which isn't typical at all. This project is called Man Plus, and is devoted to saving the human race, (wihch is, the latest simulation says, a ninety nine percent chance of destroying itself within the next ten years.) Man Plus is devoted to turning a man into more than a man. by ripping out most of his biological components and replacing them with mechanical body parts, thus enabling him to live on Mars. The result would make a super being to start a colony on Mars, thus saving the human race. When William Hartnett, the original Man Plus dies, Roger Torroway has to take his place.
This novel is full of surprises, and I would definitely recommend it to anyone.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Jari Aalto on April 13, 2009
Format: Paperback
Earth is in a cold war and computer predictions show high probability of complete destruction of Earth in nuclear war in near future. The president of US must save the mankind. The "plusman" project is initiated. It must succeed before the destruction erupts. The initial transformee, cyborg man, whose organs have been removed bit by bit and replaced with machine equivalents suffers a severe stimulus overload. The main character, Roger, becomes reluctantly steps into the program's guinea pig. The book is about his experience of becoming a cyborg: both mentally, emotionally and distanting himself from mankind. Nobody had the courtesy to mention "sligh operation" where his genitals were removed as unnecessary for the awaiting Mars. The bat wings, solar panels, and receptory vision tuned to artificial inhuman wavelengths leave no doubts how extensive an irreversable the changes are.

Pohl writes with a distinctive blend of hard science fiction and psychologically complex characters. The reader can feel for Roger, becoming a monster for the sake of visiting Mars. He's taken further and further away from the human norm.

Four (4) stars. Written in 1975, Man Plus must be one of the best hard science fiction novels of the seventies. The treatment of human lab rat is very well put and Roger's emotional state distorted by supplementary computer that filters his perceptions is remarkable confidently scripted. No wonder this 1976 book won the Nebula.
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