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Machine Man

3.70  ·  Rating details ·  4,120 ratings  ·  467 reviews
When scientist Charles Neumann loses a leg in an industrial accident, it's not an opportunity. Charlie always thought his body could be better. His employer, military contrator Better Future, has the resources he needs to explore a few ideas. So he begins to build parts. Better parts.

Charlie's prosthetist, Lola, is impressed by his artificial limbs. But some see him as a m
Paperback, 279 pages
Published 2011 by Scribe Publications Pty Ltd (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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Average rating 3.70  · 
Rating details
 ·  4,120 ratings  ·  467 reviews

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B 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
Aug 03, 2011 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.

May 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have become a little Max Barry fanboy. Everything he has written has so far tickled all my iterative parts, whether they were augmented or otherwise, and I found myself chuckling with all the delights a well-crafted tale can often bring.

I mean, the IDEA is an old one, but damn if Max Barry didn't up it a notch or ten by being written really well, have very excellent science sense, and even make it more interesting by casting the main character in a light Autistic-spectrum.

What can I say!? I l
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
Mary ~Ravager of Tomes~
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 experie
Kara 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 thi ...more
Aug 11, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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.
Hmmm... a bit of a quirky story. Charlie Neumann (cute name, there) was a bit too ignorant, at all the wrong times, for my taste. He was also a bit too obsessed, or maybe a bit too flippant about his obsession, at other points. Still, I could see all the coincidences and toxic personalities and danger lining up to make this a reality.
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,
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
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
Bennett Gavrish
Jan 29, 2013 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
Elly (imaginemorebooks)
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.
John Paz
Sep 13, 2011 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 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
✘✘ Sarah ✘✘ (former Nefarious Breeder of Murderous Crustaceans)
I love Max Barry, his vision and his writing. I've read all his books so far and have enjoyed each and everyone of them. I had read the beginning of Machine Man when Barry started writing the book and was sending the first chapters as a newsletter. I enjoyed this first glimpse into the book and was intrigued by the story so I couldn't wait to get my hands on the final version of the book. Unfortunately the story just didn't do it for me.

It is a satire, just like every other book Barry has writt
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
Oct 07, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 07, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Aug 02, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Who knew crushing your limbs in the industrial machinery at work could be so addictive? When Charlie Neumann accidentally crushed his leg in a fit of absentmindedness and was fitted with state-of-the-art prosthesis, he could only stare in dismay. This was state of the art? Combing his engineering mind, his company's resources, and his ability to fixate on a project beyond all reason, Neumann promptly built a better leg. Then, realizing it would work better as a pair, he decided to recreate his a ...more
Richard Buro
Dec 05, 2016 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 from December, 2016 . . .

The concept of improving the working parts of a 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 S
May 07, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love Max Barry's books. He seems to start with an idea of "what if"and then runs with it into weirdness. In this novel, a man (Charlie) who has serious difficulty with personal relationships has a terrible accident which gives him the idea that machine parts may be better for you than organic parts. I would only wish that Charlie was a nicer person, although some of his comments were quite funny (remind me a bit of Sheldon on Big Bang Theory).
Bailey Loveless
The book asks some interesting questions and the main character is well developed of static. Conceptually this was unique. However, the execution in terms of the rest of the plot and other characters falls flat.
Ashley Wigginton
Mar 21, 2017 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 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.25 STARS
Marcel Driel
Jan 28, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Darkly funny, bleak but exciting story that reads like a Black Mirror episode of Robocop. I loved it.
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