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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.