Top positive review
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Frankenstein meets 2001 (including HAL)
on 9 March 2001
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.