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The Terminal Man

3.36  ·  Rating details ·  23,394 ratings  ·  738 reviews
Harry Benson is prone to violent, uncontrollable seizures and is under police guard after attacking two people. Dr. Roger McPherson, head of the prestigious Neuropsychiatric Research Unit at University Hospital in Los Angeles, is convinced he can cure Benson through a procedure called Stage Three.

During this highly specialized experimental surgery, electrodes will be place
Paperback, First Vintage Books Edition, 272 pages
Published February 2014 by Vintage Books (first published March 1st 1972)
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Average rating 3.36  · 
Rating details
 ·  23,394 ratings  ·  738 reviews

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The Terminal Man is so far my least favorite of all Michael Crichton's novels. (I'm almost finished reading all of his fiction books.) But I couldn't rate it lower than three-stars, because this is Crichton, for pity's sake. He's one of my favorite authors. And I suppose the tremendous research and effort dedicated in this book is worth an additional star.

Okay, so this is about a man named Benson who frequently had violent seizures. People from the Neuropsychiatric Research Unit decided to
Jan 12, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Brief synopsis; neurologists implant electrodes into a patient's brain in an attempt to calm his violent seizures. As 'playing God' goes, these doctors fall short of Frankenstein or Jekyll, but they engage in quite a lot of back-slapping, words-of-caution-ignoring and unhatched-chicken-counting. Needless to say a garden-variety thriller breaks out.

What sets The Terminal Man apart is how thoroughly researched it is; we're talking five pages of bibliography and technical references for a short
Chris Dietzel
Nov 26, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A really good example of what made Crichton's early fiction so good. The story is fairly simple compared to his later fiction and much of it is predictable but he also does a superb job of keeping the information dumps interesting, keeps the story moving smoothly, and, unlike his later fiction, he adds morals and themes into the story.
Sep 19, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2fiction, scifi, 1paper
Years ago, I saw "The Andromeda Strain" & then saw this book, so I picked it up. It was pretty good & was an early explorer of man-computer interfacing. It also shows the fallacy of positive feedback as a form of control. There's a fair amount of gore & the hospital descriptions really impressed me. It might be a bit dated now, though.

If you have to hunt up a volume, try to find the first hardback. It had some good, if a bit gruesome, illustrations in it, as I recall.
Syeda Sumayya Tariq
This is a slightly different take on the life long competition bw man & machines. I absolutely love how Crichton weaves his stories around facts, it makes the story sound so compelling. It also perfectly captures in all its irony, the unwillingness of scientists to accept anything other than data, how even the most well laid plans can become a mess, and how ppl who we underestimate almost always win the show.

I luved every bit of this book except the ending which was very anticlimactic.
Apr 02, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Nobody!
I had high hopes for this book after reading Crichton's 'The Andromeda Strain.' I thought it would be another techno-thriller with the same kind of intriguing ideas and medical realism that would make the plot believeable and far-fetched at the same time. Unfortunately, this was not the case. Perhaps the book is dated in the sense that a man receiving brain implants and receiving shocks in order to stimulate the brain is no longer science-fiction and rather is a reality of today's medicine. ...more
Jul 07, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Through the use of tools mankind has made unimaginable advances, and with the ever increasing advances in tools progress has come at increasing speed and complexity, but at what point are the advances untenable? At what point does the dependency on the tools become a weakness? At what point do we design our own destruction?

This is a classic 'man orchestrates his own downfall' or 'man created monster' warning tale, but at the same time it is a quick paced thriller. This might be my favorite
May 03, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Terminal Man by Michael Crichton.

One of Crichton's earlier works The Terminal Man is not as polished or as engaging as his later Science Fiction or Medical Fiction, but the hint of greatness is definitely evident and despite the fact that the books is 41 years old this year the story is still a compelling read with a few unexpected twists and turns. The Terminal Man is the story of, Harry Benson, a normal man who following a car accident develops a violent side which is triggered by a
Arun Divakar
It was rather ironic to jump from Henry Marsh’s account to Michael Crichton and both these books are based on neurosurgery. The important point to note was that these two books are as different as chalk and cheese. Having read through almost all of Crichton’s oeuvre, I think this is one of his weakest books.

The premise is standard Crichton fare of science running amok and how we finally fix it. It goes like :

Scientists goof up.
Trouble begins and goes unnoticed.
Trouble escalates.
People die.
Jan 15, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi-other
The Terminal Man was interesting, in its way. It's an older Michael Crichton book and isn't as polished or as intense as his later works. It's another of his books that I would recommend only to hardcore Crichton fans. I had some difficulty understanding Harry's actions, even though they were fully explained in the book. I'm not sure if this was more about me not comprehending the psychological/medical/technological aspects of the book or if the book wasn't basic enough for a lay-person.
Jake Van Hoorn
Sep 25, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Weak plot with ignorant and outdated views of people with epilepsy. Crichton himself came out and said he felt this was his worst novel and after reading it, I would agree with him.
Jun 01, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A typical Crichton thriller; It's a casual airport novel which is fast-paced, has a lot of action, chases, coffee drinking, cigarette smoking and some violence. It seems a bit dated with its talk of the growing omnipresence of computers in our day to day life and an eye on the potential growth in the future along with the drastic growth in their power and functions. As a parallel, it talks of the power of the brain in the scale of a computer and how the two can potentially interact and be made ...more
Oct 01, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: thriller, sci-fi
I really enjoy Crichton's work and the immersive environments he creates and the hard-science edge he adopts. Tis is no different in that respect. It moves along at comfortable pace and I found myself going through it quite quickly. A great work that once again explores morality combined with science.
A recommended read for the sci-fi/thriller fan.

Plot ***Spoilers***
Harry Benson, a man in his 30s, suffers from psychomotor epilepsy. He often has seizures followed by blackouts, and then wakes up
Dawn C
Jun 05, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An extremely well-researched, interesting story. There seems to be no such thing as a boring Crichton book.
Mar 28, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: No one with a critical brain
Shelves: thrillers
'The Terminal Man' by Michael Crichton

The Plot:

Harry Benson is a man who suffers from seizures, caused by brain damage incurred as a result of a car accident. These seizures are unpredictable & distressing for Benson who has blackouts, can't remember where he has been or his actions whilst 'unconscious'. What happens, invariably, during these blackouts, is that Benson becomes involved in fights. He attacks his victims with a ferocity that belies his diminutive stature.
Benson comes to the
Benjamin Stahl
Jun 05, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Horace Derwent
Since I lost my mind I have formed what is fair to call a morbid fascination in the human brain. I am equally intrigued as I am disgusted by it. So I was pleasantly surprised when I discovered the premise for The Terminal Man. Basically a man who suffers “psychomotor epilepsy” is the subject for a new and controversial experiment where computer chips are placed inside his brain. A control receptor thingy - (I’m not good with science; spare me the jargon) - is placed in his shoulder. The idea is ...more
Oct 04, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
At first, I thought that this book was going to be purely medical fiction, and did not expect to understand much or enjoy it. It is not. This is about how a human brain can control a computer, and vice versa. A man with ADL (Acute Disinhibitory Lesion) is operated upon to "cure" his disorder, by implanting electrodes into his brain that would prevent seizures by sending signals to the brain. This would be controlled by a miniature computer (second "brain"), which is also implanted in his body. ...more
Laura Grable
I cannot fault a book for when it was written, but it is a huge understatement to say that this book has not stood the test of time. It is a book about implanting a computer into someone's brain in order to treat a violent form of epilepsy. Computers were brand new technology in 1971 and Crichton's book focuses on the fears that people had about computers getting too powerful. Usually Crichton's books are chilling in their accounts of science going awry but, unfortunately in this case, his ...more
Barbara ★
Harry Benson is a computer analyst who works for the DOD and thinks machines are taking over the world. On top of his delusions, Harry was in a car accident which resulted in brain damage. Harry suffers from seizures which make him violent and he is wanted by the police. Most of the medical staff at University Hospital think he's a perfect candidate for surgery - implantation of a computer in his brain to stop the impulses triggering these seizures. All except his psychiatrist, Janet Ross, who ...more
Sam Ang
Apr 28, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: sci-fi
Shelves: fiction
The full review is available at the following link:

Although he is not the protagonist of the story, the whole event revolved around Harry Benson, a patient suffering from a violent seizure known as Acute Disinhibitory Lesions, or ADL (not sure if it is a real syndrome). Harry's seizure came and go, and was so violent that a police guard was required to escort him into the hospital in case his epilepsy occurred. During the course of the seizure, Harry would
Sep 10, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Listened to on CD. One of Crichton's earliest works. It is dated for the 21st century, but his style and formula is fairly clear as far back as the early 1970's. The only difference is that there is a little more character development than in his later novels. BUT ONLY a LITTLE! The possible relationship with the detective and female doctor wants to go somewhere but doesn't quite catch. The book ends very abruptly. I think Crichton finished it like that in order to generate talk and discussion ...more
Manoj Payani
Sep 09, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Michael Crichton has always written books much ahead of his time, yet it is difficult to believe that this book was first published in 1972. The story revolves around the complications created when machines take control of humans (a precursor of Artificial Intelligence in recent times). Some chapters are spine-chilling especially the conversation between Benson and Dr.Ross at the latter's house, reminds of the conversation in Silence of the Lambs between Judie Foster and Anthony Hopkins. The ...more
Paulina Sanchez
Jul 16, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Quite an excellent story, Crichton, once again, kept me on the edge of my seat throughout the whole book. The only reason why I don't give this book the 5 stars is because the ending leaves you on the edge, there are some unanswered questions that I am still curious about. I am hoping that the film has an ending that will help me out with some closure.

That being said, The Terminal Man is an excellent story, ahead of its time and very relevant right now.

I recommend it to anyone who likes
Baz MW
Aug 20, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Terminal Man is an insight into the seedling
technologies of the 70s the allow much of the medical technologies that we have seen reach fruition today. It is well researched and delves into the psychology of the time pretty well.

It is simply written and fast paced, but if you’re after deep emotional attachment to characters, this isn’t for you.

I can’t tell if Michael Crichton is a raging misogynist and homophobe or if he is just characterising his narration to fit the scene and decade of time
Dec 10, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
Continuing my Michael Crichton journey, I moved on to The Terminal Man. I particularly enjoyed one aspect of this book - Michael Crichton's own knowledge on the subject matter. One of the reasons I enjoy his novels so much is the extensive amount of research that goes into every novel he writes, but where his information on dinosaurs comes second-hand, the same does not apply to medical knowledge. Crichton attended Harvard Medical School, among others, and thus his medical work seeps its way ...more
It's alright for a general thriller, but it's not prime Michael Crichton (you can sort of feel the transition of him going from Andromeda Strain to bigger, more interesting books like Jurrasic Park and later, Sphere). Either of those two would be a better use of your reading time.
Aug 28, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Enjoyed this one.. Nice to read something a bit older sometimes.. interesting technological thriller
Jul 15, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I have always had a rocky relationship with the genre of cautionary science fiction. There tend to be two types of this, those that explicitly or implicitly anti-science or anti-technology (I might call it science fiction for Luddites), and those that are not. I find the later to be far more acceptable than the former. I find Micheal Crichton's work to be especially iffy, many of his works are described as "cautionary techno thrillers" and no book of his is more explicitly anti-tech than this ...more
Jan 28, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Rather dated this is the tale of a hospital medical research team who attempt to cure an accident victim with brain damage the causes him to become violent on occasion. The patient is a computer engineer with fears that the machines are taking over the world, but has agreed to an operation that will insert needles into his brain to monitor and stimulate certain sections to prevent these outbursts. The probes are connected to a nuclear power pack and a minute computer that monitors and initiates ...more
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Michael Crichton (1942–2008) was one of the most successful novelists of his generation, admired for his meticulous scientific research and fast-paced narrative. He graduated summa cum laude and earned his MD from Harvard Medical School in 1969. His first novel, Odds On (1966), was written under the pseudonym John Lange and was followed by seven more Lange novels. He also wrote as Michael ...more
“... we have created a man with not one brain but two. ... This new brain is intended to control the biological brain. ... The patient's biological brain is the peripheral terminal -- the only peripheral terminal -- for the new computer. ... And therefore the patient's biological brain, indeed his whole body, has become a terminal for the new computer. We have created a man who is one single, large, complex computer terminal. The patient is a read-out device for the new computer, and is helpless to control the readout as a TV screen is helpless to control the information presented on it.” 8 likes
“Actualmente mucha gente piensa que vivimos en un mundo predeterminado que sigue un derrotero fijo y establecido. Las decisiones pasadas nos han legado la polución, la despersonalización y la suciedad urbana; alguien decidió por nosotros y ahora nos enfrentamos a las consecuencias.” 2 likes
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