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Who? [Paperback]

Algis Budrys
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Product details

  • Paperback: 159 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; 1st Penguin edition (1964)
  • Language: English
  • Product Dimensions: 17.6 x 11 x 1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,822,462 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Science fiction set at the heart of the Cold War.Who is the man with a metal head?

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars identity Crisis? 27 Dec 2010
Format:Mass Market Paperback
The book revolves around the USA government agent trying to find out the identity of
a scientist, involved in an industrial/scientific accident, in which the scientist is partialy rebuilt in metal,including his face.

As the scientist say's that he is the real scientist, and not a plant by the Russians, it is ultimately left to the reader to decide who he is, because of his actions throughout The story, and which I feel doesn't reach an ultimate identity conclusion! The story also constantly jumps backwards in time to the early life of the scientist, and seems to drag the story out over 15 years.
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Amazon.com: 4.3 out of 5 stars  7 reviews
5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hard SF for the Literati 13 Feb 2009
By R. Perry Hooker - Published on Amazon.com
I "found" Algis Budrys courtesy of my mother, who, after reading his bio and one of his stories in the October issue of Technology Review, scoured the internet for copies of his books. This was no easy feat because, lamentably, his novels are now largely out-of-print: science fiction is a niche market at the best of times (notwithstanding Michael Chabon's recent acquisition of BOTH the Hugo and Nebula awards for The Yiddish Policeman's Union), and Budrys' style is AT LEAST two standard deviations away from "mainstream." However, in my opinion, Budrys falls squarely on the leading edge of the literary bell curve - perhaps not the best place for sales, but leading the pack nonetheless.

I read two of Budrys' novels - Who? and Rogue Moon - and one of his collections of short stories, Budrys' Inferno. Based on this sample of his work, I think that Budrys was an unusually talented genre fiction author. His writing is undeniably entertaining, though the style is now a bit dated - his action and dialog are stylized to the same degree as a film noir movie, though the specifics are different.

Uniquely for an author of his generation, Budrys does not shy away from issues of love and sex. This, however, is merely a consequence of what I see as a deep understanding of psychology and interpersonal dynamics. Budrys' characters are not usually complete unto themselves. Instead, they are stylized representations of specific human traits, and Budrys' talent emerges when his characters interact: through their communication, he explores truths about us.

Thus: if you're a fan of SF, if you're fascinated by the way that people get along with one another, or if you're simply looking for a good read, try 'em. It's thought-provoking science fiction.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Masterful tension building 5 Oct 2012
By Nerine Dorman - Published on Amazon.com
This is another story that's fascinating to read in the aftermath of the Cold War. Lucas Martino was a genius scientist working on a top-secret project near the enemy lines when things went awry, and he was horribly injured in the resultant explosion. This was exactly the gap the Soviets were looking for, and they picked him up, and patched him up. The only complication for him was that he was almost unidentifiable--much of him had become mechanical. Now he became a bone of contention between the two sides. The Soviet colonel Azarin doesn't want to let Martino return. What I appreciate about how this story is written is Budrys understands how to use the different viewpoint characters with their unreliable viewpoints to the best effect to create tension. Right up until the last, we are never entirely sure just *who* the mostly mechanical man is.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent flashbacks 28 Aug 2010
By Adman - Published on Amazon.com
In a future where 2 coalitions have been formed, capitalism VS communism, a scientist is abducted by the Soviets and then returned to the West with head and limb prosthetics that make his identity questionable. The story is told in the present and flashbacks.

Now, the flashbacks are absolutely brilliant. If one tries to read the book, skipping the "now" parts (and to be honest, the "now" is by far the inferior part of the novel) the story of Lucas Martino, physicist and owner of a Supermensa brain, unfolds in an engrossing, poignant and vivid narration. Just the part of the 18 year old Lucas Martino having a clumsy first date, will stay with you, long after you`ve read the book. Personally, I was reminded of Stephen King's more exceptional passages (and this is of course praise for King and not for Budrys).

On the downside, the western head of intelligence is quite clichéd, a man who is a chain smoker, does not sleep, etc and the same thing applies for his Soviet counterpart.

4 stars.
5.0 out of 5 stars My favorite Budrys 28 April 2014
By TChris - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
In this 1958 novel, Dr. Lucas Martino is abducted by the Soviets (back in the days when there was still a Soviet Union). After some months, Martino is returned -- or is he? The repatriated scientist is wearing a metal mask that is bonded to his head -- the result, supposedly, of surgical intervention to save his life after an experiment went awry. He's also been endowed with a mechanical arm and artificial organs. So is Martino the real deal or is he a cleverly disguised Soviet spy, sent to infiltrate the super-secret Allied project known as K-88? It becomes Shawn Rogers' job to solve that mystery and the novel follows Rogers in his attempt to discover the truth.

Budrys alternates chapters that address Rogers' investigation with chapters that take the reader through Dr. Martino's life. That technique enhances the story as the reader wonders whether the man we're coming to know and understand is actually the man behind behind the mask. If he is the masked man, we feel sorry for him, because the "good guys" don't trust him and won't let him resume work on K-88, the job for which he is best suited. The novel's satisfying ending lets us in on the secret of what happened while Martino was with the Soviets. In all, this is a well-structured novel that allows Budrys to explore interesting questions of trust and the meaning of identity: what is it, finally, that makes a man? That's a question with which Martino (or is it Martino?) must wrestle as he resumes his life.

WHO? is perhaps less technically satisfying than Michaelmas, which benefits from a stronger writing style, but I think it is a more intriguing novel, and the best of this fine writer's work.
3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Who, What, When, Where? 18 May 2006
By Raegan Butcher - Published on Amazon.com
This is a thoughtful and engrossing novel. It deals with many issues: cold war paranoia, memory loss, identity, loyalty. The cold war premise may not resonate with younger readers reared on GRAND THEFT AUTO but for those of you who still retain higher brain functions, WHO, is an intelligent and thought-provoking novel well worth checking out. The questions it raises about identity and memory and its rather subdued atmosphere of existential melancholia place it in the ranks of the novels of Philip K Dick.
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