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Machine Man

3.75 of 5 stars 3.75  ·  rating details  ·  2,346 ratings  ·  320 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...more
Paperback, 277 pages
Published August 9th 2011 by Vintage (first published 2009)
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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.

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...more
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
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,...more
John Paz
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...more
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
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...more
Bennett Gavrish
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...more
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...more
Gabriel C.
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
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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
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 ano 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...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
Peter Derk
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...more
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...more
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....more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Lilla Smee
I was hooked from the opening pages! The novel opens with 10 pages of the most exquisitley astute and utterly hilarious observations on the utter devestation one experiences when one realises one has lost one's mobile phone. The novel is packed with the most simple, eye-opening commentries on the human existence (biologically speaking) I have ever come across. On urinary and bowel catheters: 'You would think a bowel catheter would be disgusting but it had major functional advantages over a bathr...more
Kellye Burns
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
A decent beach-read, I suppose, but (as per usual) I have some beefs with this story:

#1. I'm sick to death of portraying the brilliant engineer/etc as an antisocial freak with fifth-degree Aspergers. It's just lazy and, as an (admittedly orders-of-magnitude-less-gifted) engineer, it's insulting.

#2. Pacing is HORRIBLE. Good LORD. Listening to the audio book, I could zone out for a minute or two and not miss anything some times; meanwhile towards the end they just fast-forward through so much char...more
Até que ponto dependemos da tecnologia? Abrindo seu livro com um capítulo sobre a dependência de um engenheiro de uma empresa sarcasticamente nomeada "Futuro Melhor", o australiano Max Barry flerta com a relação entre a humanidade e a avalanche de tecnologia que presenciamos atualmente. É no desespero para recuperar o seu celular que o engenheiro Charles Neumann acaba envolvido em um acidente que lhe custa a perna. Mas, e se ao invés de aceitar uma prótese moderna o sujeito decidir construir par...more
Jim Pfluecke
This was a satisfying book. On the one hand, it is mostly an exercise in absurdity---the main character loses a leg in an accident, and, being a brilliant scientist/engineer with no life and no social skills, he builds the perfect prosthetic, which leads to "Accidently" removing his other leg so he can have a matching pair of "Better" legs, which leads to....well, you can guess. It is worth reading the Amazon reviews because they are mostly spot on--one person will give it a 1 star for dark humo...more
This was a satisfying book. On the one hand, it is mostly an exercise in absurdity---the main character loses a leg in an accident, and, being a brilliant scientist/engineer with no life and no social skills, he builds the perfect prosthetic, which leads to "Accidently" removing his other leg so he can have a matching pair of "Better" legs, which leads to....well, you can guess. It is worth reading the Amazon reviews because they are mostly spot on--one person will give it a 1 star for dark humo...more
I found this book to be a wonderfully snack, that's just a bit bad for you, like Nacho flavored Doritos. You start with a handful but then you can't resist eating one more. And then you get into that zone of enjoying something in one long session that you know would be healthier if you did in moderation, or at least not one sitting. Finally the bad is empty and you feel a little guilty. But that fades fast because nobody else will know - unless you write a review or something.
Read this book and (book: Robopocalypse)on a recent vacation.

This tells the story of Charlie Neumann. Charlie has serious mental and socio-pathological issues. He doesn't much like his body, so after an accident where he loses a leg, he starts to design and install his own replacement parts. Charlie is a pretty despicable human, high on the logic and reasoning scale but an absolute zero on empathy, morality and human relationships.

The author does a great job of walking us through Charlie's tho...more
Michael Smith
Machine Man by Max Barry is a novel that tackles the subject of human enhancement in an entertaining and surprisingly nuanced way. It's a story about an engineer named Charlie who accidentally loses a leg, decides that he can make something that is far superior to what he lost, and then becomes obsessed with the idea of bettering himself through engineering.

Barry does a good job at making what Charlie is doing seem both rational and revolting at the same time. One of the big themes of a book li...more
Nose in a book (Kate)
The story is typical Barry – a sci-fi thriller with great characters, love, humour and a strong anti-corporate theme. Charles Neumann is a scientist and engineer working for Better Future, a large company with fingers in many pies. Charlie is socially awkward, probably autistic. Certainly, his reaction to losing his leg in an industrial accident isn’t a typical one, but in his voice it seems perfectly reasonable. He sees the opportunity to build himself a new leg that’s more than just a prosthes...more
I am a fan of Barry's work, and this book didn't disappoint. It was a fast, easy read, but it asked some hard questions about how far humans should go to perfect themselves using synthetic limbs, organs, and tissues. While the lengths to which some of the characters go to "better" themselves--going as far as rebuilding hearts, eyes, skin etc.--it all makes twisted sense in the context of the novel. There's no telling what the world would actually do if confronted with the ability to remake the h...more
Heath Alberts
'Machine Man' is clearly a Max Barry work. It's quirky, it's introspective, and it goes entirely off the rails every now and again.

The story centers around a man who decides that his body is okay, but he can do a lot better. Part of this work feels like a parable about the evils of cosmetic surgery and artificial enhancement pushed to the limits. The other part is a love story from an odd bent that you can't help but love.

This is not, unfortunately, Barry's strongest work (which is perhaps why i...more
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Ask Max Barry 35 620 May 30, 2013 08:08AM  
SciFi and Fantasy...: "Machine Man" For those who are finished (Spoilers) 8 45 Oct 28, 2011 12:02PM  
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