Sunday, May 21, 2017

Man Plus Review

(from the book jacket)
Roger Torraway watched in horror as the monster lurched, toppled over and died.  Project Man Plus had gone suddenly and drastically wrong.

The race to colonize Mars was too important, too costly, and America was already too committed, for plans to be scrapped.  They would have to make a new Martian.  And Roger Torraway was it, candidate for the endless surgery, operation after painful operation, that would enable him to survive on that faraway planet.

Man Plus is a thrilling race against time – to land on Mars on schedule, to insure that Roger’s system will withstand the stress that killed the previous candidate.  And, meanwhile, somewhere, somehow, there has been a breakdown in the computer network…

Man Plus is about Roger who, after the previous candidate dies, is entered into a program to change his biology enough that he can survive on Mars.  It is more about the way Roger reacts to the things that are happening to him and the way people react to him than it is about the trip to Mars.  Roger knows that it is an honor to be chosen for the mission but he is going in knowing the process killed the man before him and had made him into something other than human.  And as his appearance changes the people around him start to treat him less and less like a person.  And the loss of his humanity piece by piece puts mental and emotional stress on him on top of the physical stresses of the process.  It was interesting to see how he had to learn to use all of his senses again and to understand the new way his brain processes the new information coming in.  His frustration and anger starts to show when he can’t even do something simple, like close his eyes.  I liked the internal struggle Roger was faced with, and I liked watching the change in him as the process moved along, but there were other parts that were not so interesting.  I wish some of the other characters were developed more or left out completely because they sometimes seemed to be in the way of the story and were more distracting than anything else.  Especially his love interests.  The whole book is told by a narrator who is not identified until the very end.  But it felt less like a twist and more like the start of an unrelated storyline.  I liked the main plot and storyline and it kept me reading to see where it was going.  But I’m not in any hurry to track down the sequel.  In the end I am not sorry I read it, it was enjoyable, and if you come across it I would say you should give it a try but I wouldn’t say it was worth making a big effort to look for it.