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Machine Man

3.7  ·  Rating Details ·  3,485 Ratings  ·  432 Reviews
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.

Prosthetist Lola Shanks loves a good artificial limb. In Charlie, she sees a man on his way to becoming artificial everything. But others see a madman. Or a
Paperback, 277 pages
Published August 9th 2011 by Vintage (first published 2008)
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Jordan Marina College student appropriate but not much younger than 16 would I recommend it
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Aug 03, 2011 Brad rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sometimes all a book needs to excel is the proper reading method. Although we all have our preferred way of reading, usually in our head as fast as we can, there are other ways to read.

I always loved The Old Man and the Sea, but when I first read it aloud to my baby girl, the morning after she was born, I discovered that the writing is even better when it can be heard in the world. The rhythms were the rhythms of real speech, poetic speech, and they need to be heard to be fully appreciated.

Mike (the Paladin)
I picked this up after I read Lexicon. I liked it so I thought I'd try another book by Mr. Barry.

Not bad. This is an odd book about an odd character. Charlie Neumann ("new-man"?) is a PHD/Mechanical Engineer...obsessive compulsive, thinking problem solver. He's in a job that isn't really challenging him but he's doing it as if it were the most important job out there. He and his assistants are "testing" material.... See Better Futures (the company where he works) is largely a military research c
Brendon Schrodinger
Macine Man irritated me. What starts off as a fun dark comedy soon degrades into "Oh look! Aren't I clever and satirical" and ends up as a terrible video game boss fight.

The premise of the book is that a materials scientist has an accident which removes one of his legs. He ends up building his own prosthesis which he believes is better than flesh and so decides to start removinng parts of his body. Cool concept. Could have been written so much better.

By mid way through the book I ended up with
Ben Babcock
Another, albeit much more recent, addition to my to-read shelf courtesy of io9, Machine Man is sardonic exploration of the symbiotic relationship between humans and technology. I happened to see a copy on the library’s “New Books” shelf, so I took the opportunity and grabbed it. Unlike Fragment , Machine Man seems a little more plausible, which makes it much scarier. Max Barry’s main character isn’t someone with whom everyone will identify—he’s rather asocial and unable to empathize—but I think ...more
Aug 11, 2011 Ryandake rated it it was amazing
Shelves: the-good-shit
boy, nobody knows how to take a what-if to the very furthest point of its logical conclusion better than max barry.

in this book, the question begins with a dissatisfaction: the flawed engineering of the human body. then it asks: what if we could re-engineer it? via mechanical and computer engineering, not nano- or biotech. max barry's answer to that question will undoubtedly surprise you.

this book is both thoroughly outrageous and logically relentless. the main character is a nerd on nerd stero
Sarah Anne
I really didn't like this book. The main character was remarkably unlikable, his love interest was not much better, the "love story" was absurd, and the black humor got flat out annoying. The only reason I managed to finish it was because it was only 274 pages.

I need to banish the irritation.
So here's a story about a guy, an engineer, who suffers an industrial accident and has to get an artificial leg. He decides that's asymmetrical and arranges to "lose" the other one. Then he gets the idea that maybe other parts of him could stand some improving....

I had my doubts early on because the story seemed to get more and more preposterous, but danged if Barry didn't stick the landing. I would have enjoyed it just for its absurdist commentary on body modification and plastic surgery, but t
Mary ~Ravager of Tomes~
Jan 16, 2015 Mary ~Ravager of Tomes~ rated it it was amazing
Shelves: year-2015, 5-star
Actual Rating: 4.5 stars

What happens when a socially challenged scientist, Dr. Charlie Neumann, becomes obsessed with improving the logical functionality of prosthetics? An odd,fascinating, and unique adventure, that's what.

Max Barry has become master of characterization. He really fleshes out his characters even if they are minor. He uses nuance in dialogue & action to give the reader a thorough sense of each character's individual personality. It really makes for a warm & fuzzy reading
Dimitris Hall
This was the first audiobook I ever, uh, heard. It took me 9 hours over 3 days and it was a unique experience, just walking around while at the same time reading a book, or should I say, following a story. The added layer of voice and sound effects makes it more of a temporal experience than reading the book, with all the good and bad that fact might imply.

Machine Man tells the story of a thirty-something end-all be-all nerd, the kind of person that wanted to be a train when he was a child (yes,
Eva Sinner
Αυτο το βιβλιο ξεκίνησε σαν τέλειο! Συνέχισε σαν βαρετό. Κάπου πριν το τέλος έγινε πάλι ενδιαφέρον. Τελείωσε κάπως περίεργα. Δυό και κάτι αστεράκια θα του έβαζα αν μπορούσα. Αλλα δε μπορώ. Ακούς Goodreads ? Κάνε κάτι επιτέλους γι'αυτο.
Η ιστορία σαν ιστορία έχει ενδιαφέρον και γιαυτο και όταν το έπιασα στα χέρια μου στην αρχή ήταν όλα πολύ ελπιδοφόρα. Έχει λίγη φλυαρία παραπάνω όμως κατ'εμε. Και πολλές, πολλές μηχανολογικές λεπτομέρειες. Και λίγο σε κάποια σημεία βαρέθηκα.
Gabriel C.
Dec 10, 2012 Gabriel C. rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: scifi, cory, 2012
Cory called this light-hearted. The moral core of the book is near the moral core of the protagonist. I have sympathy for people on the autism spectrum, but that sympathy wears thin when they start killing people. I don't think there's much light-hearted about that. The light-heartedness, if anything, is sickening. It's just a whimsical little ol' dystopia. I'll take mine with a little more humanity, thank you very much. Not everyone in the book is incapable of emotion, but you wouldn't know tha ...more
Cyborgs are one of the most recognizable tropes of science fiction, enshrined in the public imagination in films like "Robocop" and in television series like the "Six Million Dollar Man". Any diehard Trekkie or Whovian may speak eloquently about Borg drones and metallic Cybermen; deadly foes, respectively, of Star Trek's Starfleet flagship USS Enterprise and the Time Lord Doctor Who. It is no wonder then that Max Barry has offered his own contribution, a fast-paced Cyborg love story, "Machine Ma ...more
Bennett Gavrish
Jan 29, 2013 Bennett Gavrish rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Grade: B+

L/C Ratio: 20% Literary / 80% Commercial

Thematic Breakdown:
25% - Engineering
20% - Love
15% - Action thriller
15% - Humor
15% - Corporate America
10% - Medical procedures

Addictiveness: Medium
Movie Potential: 2 Thumbs Up (Darren Aronofsky will direct it)
Re-readability: Low

The scope of Machine Man expands at a wildly fast pace, yet somehow that acceleration doesn't ruin the book's literary merit. Even as the novel leaps from a workplace satire into a pseudo-superhero action thriller, it never
John Paz
Sep 13, 2011 John Paz rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Max Barry's latest acid trip of a book, Machine Man, was a break-neck thriller with a fine dose of ego-checking commentary about our society's dependence on technology.

Barry captures the epitome of said dependence in his main character, Dr. Charles Neumann, a brilliant recluse. His insistence on efficiency leads him to some odd, and very grotesque, decisions.

The story opens with Dr. Neumann neurotically looking for his cell phone and begs readers to view themselves on this ritualistic hunt and h
A quick read about a scientist who loses a leg and decides to start tinkering with the prosthesis. He believes that the biological human can be improved through technology, and of course it all spins out of control. (Incidentally, it's the same backstory for how Doctor Who's Cybermen began.)

The blurbs describe this book as wickedly funny. I didn't find it remotely amusing. It's terrifying. The technology is, I assume, still a bit advanced for the current world. But everything that happens makes
Dec 12, 2011 David rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
It took me a while to decide what I thought about this book, and it left me with an extremely unsettled feeling. I think that what Barry is trying to do here is the same thing JG Ballard was going for in The Atrocity Exhibition - that is, to tell a disturbing story from inside the head of someone who is mentally ill. The body dysmorphia shown by Charles is extreme, and the out-of-control pacing of the events of the story leaves the reader with lingering unanswered questions about the nature of c ...more
Megan Baxter
Machine Man is okay. It's entertaining, moves along sharply, and definitely leans more towards the action than the ideas. That's a pity, in some ways, because the ideas it raises are provocative, and I would have enjoyed more thought about them. Ah well. That is not this book.

Note: The rest of this review has been withdrawn due to the changes in Goodreads policy and enforcement. You can read why I came to this decision here.

In the meantime, you can read the entire review at Smorgasbook
Jul 19, 2016 Elly rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Yet another Max Barry novel that I absolutely loved. It was nothing like I have ever read before. It was dark and twisted in all the right ways. It tapped into your emotions and made you think wtf 90% of the time. Quite honestly, I have no idea how I'd even begin to sell this book to someone. All I can say is please read it. It's worth the twisted ride. Highly recommend.
Tyson Heck
Oct 07, 2016 Tyson Heck rated it it was ok
Maybe my neurotransmitters meant for understanding structured words that come together to formulate stories have fried. Or, in my sleep, someone restructured my brain surface (can you restructure someone's brain surface?) to cause me lots of confusion. At least, that's how I felt after finishing this thing.

Maybe it was because I read it while sitting under a tree on a patch of grass during a sunny day, and the metal, electronic, android theory mental images weren't enough to get me to believe t
Aug 28, 2011 Tez rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 07, 2011 Charlie rated it really liked it
Interestingly, this book was born on a blog and grew into a novel. An interactive achievement occurred when fan followers and the ever-accessible author, Max Barry, collaborated. What started as a rouse to get Barry off his butt and writing turned into a philosophical science fiction marvel that is both compelling and thought-provoking. The main character, Charlie, as part of Better Future cannot help but view human biology as flawed and with the aid of a freak accident perpetuated by the mispla ...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Richard Buro
Dec 06, 2016 Richard Buro rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: late adolescents and older.
Recommended to Richard by: on the SciFi-Fan Book Club's Book Shelf
The short version first . . .

The concept about improving the working parts on man is something that has captured the imagination of both writers and readers. Many consider the idea to be grotesque, others bizarre, while still others think it might be a good idea. The most successful human improvement ideas using cybernetic components are the stuff of the Borg from several areas of the half century long franchise, specifically: Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, and Sta
Ashley Wigginton
Mar 21, 2017 Ashley Wigginton rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017-books
4.5 stars. Funny, Charming, Sarcastic and just a wonderful read. I got lost in this story, and just loved the characters. It got a little crazy towards the end, but it was just an enjoyable book.
Jun 09, 2017 Scott rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.25 STARS
Kellye Burns
Jul 25, 2014 Kellye Burns rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I'll start with the few things I enjoyed about this book. It's important to know that Clemson Univ. freshman are required to read this book, so I got through it in two days, not because I couldn't put it down but because it was that easy to read. I'm majoring in Physics and my father is an engineer so BY FAR the dry, sarcastic engineer jokes were the best part! They were hilarious and absolutely spot on! So props to Barry for those. The other thing I enjoyed was the idea of the book. For our mod ...more
Peter Derk
Oct 22, 2011 Peter Derk rated it really liked it
Brief summary of the first dozen pages:

Super logical engineer dude gets his leg crushed in an industrial accident, loses it. The prosthetics he’s presented with are crap, so he builds his own new leg. He then find his flesh leg inferior and incompatible with his new leg. What’s a fella to do?

I had fun with this book. Max Barry knows how to write something that keeps moving along without being completely plot-driven.

Some would say it’s philosophy 97 (4 less than 101), but I’d say the idea of whet
Aug 04, 2011 Ryan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi, humour, horror
Machine Man tells the story of Charlie Neumann, an engineer who loses a leg in a mechanical accident. He's fitted with a prosthesis, and like any good engineer would, Charlie starts to note ways to improve it. Give it gyroscopes. And wi-fi. Make it good enough that the biological leg that's paired with the prosthesis looks downright ... Neanderthal.

Machine Man takes a wonderfully dark, comic look at the idea of Transhumanism, by looking at what sort of person one would have to be to go to the le
Jul 12, 2012 David rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, audiobook
This book is a dark satire on engineers and their ways of thinking, and on management and their behavior. Everybody behaves rather badly. The engineers think only of the technical aspects of their work, which is designing prostheses. The management people think about nothing except for their bottom line, even when it means killing or maiming employees.

Charles Neumann, the main character in the book, is an engineer. After he first lost a leg in an accident, he designed a fabulous prosthetic leg.
Charlie Neumann is an engineer with Better Futures. He doesn’t tell the reader what Better Futures does, well, until it is too late for Charlie. He loses his leg in an industrial accident, is offered a prosthesis and he designs a much better leg. Then he decides he wants a pair of animatronic legs. It’s interesting having recently listened to The Island of Dr. Moreau. H.G. Wells would have made this horrifying, as Barry does, but it’s also funny, a love story, and a fun read.

“Of course the Curi
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Ask Max Barry 35 629 May 30, 2013 08:08AM  
SciFi and Fantasy...: "Machine Man" For those who are finished (Spoilers) 8 47 Oct 28, 2011 12:02PM  
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  • Payment Deferred

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“I read once that you need two things to be happy: any two of health, money, and love. You can cover the absense of one with the other two... But now I realized this was unmitigated bullshit, because health and money did not compare with love at all.” 23 likes
“I guess it's always uncomfortable to discover you're not as individual as you thought. But it really bothered me. From one perspective, I was an independent animal, exercising free will in order to elicit predictable reactions from an inert vending machine. But from another, the vending machine was choosing to withhold snacks in order to extract predictable, mechanical reactions from young men. I couldn't figure out any objective reason to consider one scenario more likely than the other.” 5 likes
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