Scientist Charles Neumann loses a leg in an industrial accident. It's not a tragedy. It's an opportunity. Charlie always thought his body could be better. He begins to explore a few ideas. To build parts. Better parts.
Max Barry has developed a style of skewering corporations. With Company he tackled the absurdity of office politics and in Jennifer Government what it means to become a company drone. Barry's latest pushes things further in a more personal yet funny manner.
The Singularity is closer than we all think. Our bodies are becoming more malleable or at least we're forcing them to be, but where will that progression push us? Machine Man explores this desire to improve one's self. Where do you start? Where do you end? How far are you willing to push or sacrifice? It all starts with an accident in the lab that turns Charles, an aloof guy, into a man bent on improving his body.
Machine Man is much darker book than Barry's last few efforts. This is partly because of the some times gruesome events Charles puts himself through. Yet it also stems from the selfishness of the main character who I guess you'd describe as having large social inadequacies. But he is also a technical genius. Even though I found it hard to like or even empathize with the main character the story permeated my mind so much I couldn't wait to get back into it. Almost like watching a car accident in progress. You can't turn away until you learn how it ends.
Machine Man is a very matter-of-fact story. Barry even goes as far to name characters after their traits such as Neumann. Get it? So much of what happens is a foregone conclusion. There were problems with the female love interest. She was left too unformed until the end where it just seemed tacked on.
Seeing the technologies evolve and the incremental steps that brings Charles to the end point was well done and enthralling. Everything is all too feasible right down to the money hungry corporation and science lackeys willing to try anything after watching what their mentor goes through.
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