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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Frankenstein meets 2001 (including HAL)
There has been one really nice thing about both Frederik Pohl entries in the SF Masterworks series - they are good old-fashioned stories that I understand, with no bizarre concepts or abstractions for me to get my head round. However, that in no way diminishes their brilliance or their impact - this was a gripping read from start to finish, that had me laughing on some...
Published on 9 Mar. 2001

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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Well written and entertaining, but a bit dated
I enjoyed this book. The story was good, and it was well-written. However, compared with modern sci-fi, it felt dated- I always felt I was reading a book set in the 1970s rather than the future. This is largely because of the changes Pohl failed to predict, for example:
- Moore's law. Computers are the size of rooms.
- Sexual equality. Wives and nurses are...
Published on 18 Sept. 2012 by Martin Wilson


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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Frankenstein meets 2001 (including HAL), 9 Mar. 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: Man Plus (S.F. MASTERWORKS) (Paperback)
There has been one really nice thing about both Frederik Pohl entries in the SF Masterworks series - they are good old-fashioned stories that I understand, with no bizarre concepts or abstractions for me to get my head round. However, that in no way diminishes their brilliance or their impact - this was a gripping read from start to finish, that had me laughing on some occasions and almost crying on others. What person could read this book and not feel the pain and suffering inflicted on Roger in the name of science ? When Roger realises that he is the next candidate for the Man Plus project, his terror is both palpable and understandable - who among us would not react the same way ? There is only one thing about the book that makes it less than perfect - the problem of the computers. Pohl refers to complex, room sized IBM's (of which only two exist in his entire United States), and the problem of providing even moderately powerful mobile computers for the mission to Mars. That may have been reality in the 60's and 70's, but it's a bit laughable to those of us who live amongst laptops and Palm Pilots, and detracts from the feel of the future the author is trying to convey. Still, it's a minor quibble, and the gobsmacking surprise of an ending more than makes up for it. All in all, a brilliant addition to the 'man on Mars' idea.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Top Notch Sci-Fi., 21 Aug. 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Man Plus (S.F. MASTERWORKS) (Paperback)
This really is a well written and entertaining book.
Set in the near future in a world living under the shadow of a world war, the race is well and truly on to colonise Mars with the political orientation of the Americans very subtle and true. The politicians and Scientists are using technology to adapt a human for the rigours of living on Mars. Often refered to in the narrative as a 'monster' the human experiment is gradually altered in to a half human/machine - a cyborg - fully changed and prepared for life on another planet. We are taken under the skin of the main character and how he deals with the transformation and leaves his human side and family behind.
I felt that there were similarities to 'Frankenstein' in that human interferance and the gradual change into the 'monster' were fully addressed and also a vague memory of 'Robocop' with the human alterations still having a very human side to the whole story. There does also appear to be a dark humorous side to the novel as well - very tongue in cheek.
The Sci-fi masterworks has at the moment two classic releases by Pohl in its stable - certainly Man Plus and Gateway are superb examples of the Sci-fi genre. Another Must!
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Haunting., 1 Feb. 2004
By 
J. Neal "jneal" (Sussex) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Man Plus (S.F. MASTERWORKS) (Paperback)
Having read my first Frederik Pohl; "Jem" earlier this year, I was keen to read more, and Man Plus doesn't disappoint. It's a precursor to many more recent Martian novels and unlike the Barsoomian nonsense of Edgar Rice Burroughs which I read as a boy, or the politically intense Kim Stanley Robinson, Man Plus explores the individual cost and emotional journey of a single Martian colonist. It really is a unique and clever approach, with Mars itself being relegated to a supporting role in the story. Pohl handles the alien [as a concept] very well and there's an overarching strangeness and a sense of isolation to this novel that could only be conjured by a writer with a soul, for which, I can only admire him.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A modern day Frankenstein, 14 Jun. 2005
By 
D. M. York (Manchester, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Man Plus (S.F. MASTERWORKS) (Paperback)
Man plus comes as the forebear to many novels about the colonisation of alien worlds. Although this book is far more political in its content than many others. It would have been very easy to immerse the story in the buildup of political tension occuring in the unimpossible future of Earth, just as it could have been very easy to allow Mars swallow the story entirely and in fact turn it into a fictional account of adapting to the environment of another world (try Ben Bova for such reading). However Man Plus looks at the personal and individual costs of beginning a colonisation.
As a volunteer for the Man Plus programme Roger must be stripped of his humanity, the flesh that identifies him and even his very perceptions of reality as he is remade to be a new life form. Through this the novel allows glimpses of both Roger's inner torment as well political debates that the team that must manufacture him face.
In some ways I wish that there had been more of Mars in this novel, as it is relegated to just two short chapters. Though the big point about this novel isn't about how man will live on Mars, it is about what he must face before he can live there. A very intelligent piece of science fiction.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A thought-provoking twist. Come on, Hollywood, 17 Nov. 2002
By 
Tony Barrell "pop scholar" (London, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Man Plus (S.F. MASTERWORKS) (Paperback)
So many stories about Mars, particularly recent ones, are obsessed with terraforming the red planet. What Pohl does in this absorbing classic is turn that idea on its head, and have mankind surgically altered to suit Mars. With well-drawn characters, a page-turning pace and a fantastically sinister surprise ending, this is a thought-provoking tale. And Pohl takes little more than 200 pages to tell it (please take note, Kim Stanley Robinson, with your forest-stripping doorstep Martian trilogy). Two things amaze me: that Man Plus was written so long ago (in the 1970s), and that it hasn't been made into a major Hollywood movie. David Lynch, no stranger to the subject of physical deformity (maybe it should be "reformity" in this case), would do a great job.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What a twist! What a finish!, 22 April 2012
By 
Lark (North Coast of Ireland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Man Plus (S.F. MASTERWORKS) (Paperback)
In the final chapter, which is about three or four pages long, there is a twist which sets this entire book in context and made me think about rereading it immediately with this in mind. This is an achievement for sure, there's no question that this book is a classic even if this piece of narrative brilliance wasnt included but it really does make it worth reading to the sentence and will no doubt make for interesting discussion with any friends who've read it too.

The book itself is narrated in the third person, the characters central to the story are all introduced early on but the main protagonist does not begin in the role of the cyborg destined for Mars colonisation. I found this was a really great narrative trick although the pace and style of writing is good besides and the author does not have to rely upon tricks to keep a reader engaged with the story.

I dont know a lot about cybernetics, space exploration or the hard science aspects of the novel but this content is convincing and not fantastic or too wonderous, there are just enough details ommitted to make the crazy surgerical feats involved in making the protagonist "man plus" to make it seem feasible. One aspect of reading novels like this which depict a world of tommorrow that we are closer to being in than the author was at the time of writing is discovering what innovations and developments they anticipated correctly and what they did not, for instance everyone does have the means to communicate via video calls but there are no mobile phones, these are phones like the home appliances, and folding screen covers provide privacy rather than minimising pictures as is possible with a laptop appliance in reality. While the author has anticipated flying cars, automated transport, some innovations in garage car storage they imagine a world in which everyone smokes, even in hospitals, and as I've said no one has mobile communications (car phones exist but are more like CB radios).

There is more character development than world building but both are done really well, the world of the future anticipates things such as China's rise in prominance, there is a kind of internet functioning in that computers are networked but the characterisation is what I found the greatest. This is a very humane and humanising tale, the psychological aspects of it are great, one candidate perishes as a result of psychological pressure, or at least it is implied and a mainstay of the story is how Roger, the man plus subject, adapts to his transformation. It is a brilliant tale from this perspective and I would recommend it to anyone as a result, not just fans of science fiction.

Its not unreasonable to mention Frankenstein perhaps but this isnt a tale of mad science and alienation in quite the same way, the pace and style of writing is pretty different too. Recommended.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Shows how a well written story will always work., 9 July 2003
This review is from: Man Plus (S.F. MASTERWORKS) (Paperback)
In a Science Fiction novel, humanity is often measured by the fall of empires and the turn of the galactic wheel. Man Plus focuses on humanity as it affects an individual. The sheer joy, and indeed sometimes great sadness, of this novel comes from the emotions pounding through Tarraway as he journeys from man to "man plus". We see how it affects his family and his friends, and we see how his actions affect them.
The story of whether or not Tarraway succeeds in becoming adapted for Martian life is handled with panash by a writer whose simple yet eloquent style I have come to admire, but as is often the case it is the journey to that end that is the most rewarding part. And in this novel that reward is high indeed.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars first rate little book, 24 Aug. 2013
By 
Legal Vampire (Buckinghamshire, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Man Plus (S.F. MASTERWORKS) (Paperback)
The other favourable reviewers here already described the plot of this first rate little book very well so to avoid duplication I just add this.

Even if 40 year old science fiction is not what you would normally think of reading, this book could be worth trying.

It is the story of how an astronaut, a man called Roger Torroway,'s body is rebuilt to be able to survive on Mars. This may sound like yet another of the many immitations of the 'Frankenstein's Monster' myth, of a thinking machine created by human science that risks getting out of control of its creators. In a way it is, although by the end of the book we discover that the real Frankenstein's Monster is not Roger Torroway but something else, which is not actually malevolent but is deviously concerned for itself and not its human creators.

The story ends with some questions and plot strands resolved, some unresolved and an unexpected new mystery. However, the story seems somehow meant to end like this and I do not think the author himself had further answers in his mind at the time.

The author did co-write a sequel many years later called Mars Plus that at time of writing no one has reviewed on Amazon.co.uk. Four people have reviewed it on the American Amazon.com but all but one found it disappointing and say that the sequel does not spend much time on the questions raised or characters left at the end of Man Plus anyway. The only favourable review seems to refer to another of the author's books and to have been posted there accidentally.

It is therefore probably best that we accept that the story ends here, with Roger Torroway, his mostly robotic body able to experience the Martian surface unconfined by a space suit, looking up through the thinner Martian atmosphere with enhanced senses at familiar and unfamiliar stars, knowing it may be best that he is never reunited with his beloved wife Dorrie back on Earth, to whom he now appears a metallic monster.

This is the first science fiction novel I have read for more than 20 years. I tried it because I liked a short story by the same author Frederick Pohl in a compilation of otherwise very varying interest by different authors The Mammoth Book of Alternate Histories (Mammoth Books). [Should you wish to know, Pohl's story in that book is called 'Waiting for the Olympians' and set in an alternative history in which the Roman Empire survived to the present day and now has a space exploration programe. Christianity never got going as a religion because a merciful Roman Governor pardoned Jesus and deprived him of martyrdom.]
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars How Thin the Line Between Monster and Man, 17 Jun. 2011
This review is from: Man Plus (S.F. MASTERWORKS) (Paperback)
Roger Torroway is a man, at the outset of Man Plus. A man with a man's problems. He worries about why his wife, Dorrie, doesn't seem to want intercourse with him any more; his career, after an early high when he saved some Russians from certain death on re-entry, appears to have hit a brick wall - though a dead-end job as an astronaut is still something, he supposes; overall, Roger feels as if time is slipping away from him, and there's precious little he can do to coax the beast that ambles ever-onward back.

But Earth's troubles are more serious still. Tensions between the world's most powerful nations are at an all time high... nuclear war is all but a forgone conclusion at this stage, and with the apocalypse knock-knocking at the door, the President has invested all America's hopes and dreams of a better tomorrow - a tomorrow at all - in a mission to Mars.

Enter the Man Plus project. NASA understand that they can't in the time allotted change Mars to suit man, but maybe, just maybe, they can change man to suit Mars.

As the third of three backup subjects, Roger Torroway had good reason to believe the Man Plus would never come a-calling. But when it comes to the punch, all the other candidates start dropping like flies, and Roger finds himself in an unenviable position, with the stakes in play no less than the fate of the human race. Reluctantly, he volunteers to be the man in Man Plus.

Roger Torroway is a man for only moments of Man Plus, however. A few chapters in, he is made a monster of: given a new skin, cameras for eyes, cybernetic joints and a battery-powered brain. Pohl effects his transformation day by excruciating day, culminating in the deeply discomfiting moment when the mad NASA scientists lop off Roger's todger. But alas, the obstacles this courageous man must overcome are not discarded with his manhood; even then, Mars - and so the deliverance of Earth - are a long way off.

I'll confess to taking pleasure in being able to say what I'm about to - that from first to last, Pohl gets right under the skin of this Real American Hero - but there's truth in some wordplay, to wit: while Torroway is not a particularly complex protagonist, nor of a sort set to surprise anyone with even elementary experience of classic SF, Pohl's characterisation makes it ineffably easy to invest in this man to the slaughter. Lonely and conflicted, confused and uncertain and afraid, Torroway is not immediately Man Plus - he is but a man, the same as any other.

Man Plus is a short enough novel to read in an evening, by dint of which its pace seems more solid than perhaps it is - nevertheless, on occasion some readers will wonder whether this mission is ever to get off the ground. But Pohl is smart, I think, to spend most of his time describing the journey than documenting the inevitable destination, for it is the metamorphosis of one man into a Martian-friendly monster that truly sells this Nebula award-winning narrative. And with every surgery... with every irreversible snip, Pohl evokes a deepening sense of dread in a hermetically sealed environment wherein a stray thought or the sound of a pin drop could mean the end of everything.

Man Plus is a fantastically taut tale from "one of the grand old men of SF," quick and easy to digest, yet shot through with such moral and marital dilemmas that you'll likely find your thoughts returning to it well after you've turned the last page. And for all that it was written some 40 years ago - hence its modicum of political incorrectness - Man Plus yet bears a startling sort of relevance to contemporary events, and begs in the erstwhile a timeless question: what would you, yes you, give up to save the world? What lengths would you go to to safeguard a loved one?

In sum, could you be Man Plus too?
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply brilliant, 12 May 2010
By 
Ariadne Tampion (Leicestershire, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Man Plus (S.F. MASTERWORKS) (Paperback)
This book has to be one of the best SF novels ever. It is fast-paced, exciting and stuffed to overflowing with provocative ideas.

Many Martian colonisation stories focus on 'Terraforming' the Red Planet; 'Man Plus' goes the contrary route of 'Areoforming' the human body. Thus astronaut Roger Torraway becomes a 'cyborg', much of his body replaced by machine to enable him to survive on the bare surface of Mars. The descriptions of the engineering necessary for this feat are lucid and plausible. The issues involved in connecting up machine and organism are not shirked. Background information given to this end is always concise and relevant; the discussion of the frog's eye is a classic.

I deliberately read Man Plus a few weeks before surgery. The intention was to make what was about to be done to me seem trivial in comparison to what was done to Roger. But the book turned out to be far more upbeat than reviewers had led me to believe: I found myself perceiving my surgery as a missed opportunity. Instead of a realignment of my first and fifth right metatarsals, why couldn't I have had the whole foot replaced by a robotic one with computer to enable me to dance the ballet?

The fact that not just the computer technology but the social mores are very nineteen-seventies didn't bother me at all; maybe even served to accentuate the book's innovative genius.

As the end approached, I longed for Roger to get together with the woman who truly loved him while steeling myself for yet another corpse-littered SF stage. When it arrived, I laughed out loud. Absolutely brilliant, no doubt about it.
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Man Plus (S.F. MASTERWORKS)
Man Plus (S.F. MASTERWORKS) by Frederik Pohl (Paperback - 11 May 2000)
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