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Man Plus

(Man Plus #1)

3.74  ·  Rating details ·  7,604 ratings  ·  268 reviews
Ill luck made Roger Torraway the subject of the Man Plus Programme, but it was deliberate biological engineering which turned him into a monster -- a machine perfectly adapted to survive on Mars. For according to computer predictions, Mars is humankind's only alternative to extinction. But beneath his monstrous exterior, Torraway still carries a man's capacity for sufferin ...more
Paperback, 215 pages
Published May 11th 2000 by Millennium Paperbacks, imprint of Gollancz (first published July 1st 1976)
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Average rating 3.74  · 
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Jan 07, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Just as Frederik Pohl’s 1977 novel Gateway was about greed, Man Plus, his 1976 offering, is about ambition, and may be seen as an almost Kafkaesque allegory.

Pohl brings an approachability to his very competent hard science fiction; a pleasing meld of technically believable sci-fi with humanistic and psychological elements. He tells a good story – especially with an interesting, and ongoing (though ultimately not very satisfying) theatrical irony theme crafted with a mysterious narration techniq
At NASA, people often quoted what were claimed to be the Three Things Astronauts Fear Most. In descending order, these were:

1. Not getting selected for the mission;

2. Screwing up;

3. Dying.

In this 70s SF story, an astronaut, apparently with the normal set of priorities, has been fortunate enough to find himself selected for a daring bioengineering experiment; they are going to turn him into a creature capable of surviving, without a suit or other equipment, on the surface of Mars. Given that the
The Man Plus programme was designed to establish a colony on Mars, and since man cannot survive unprotected on Mars he must be adapted in the middle of a cold war.

A third person viewpoint.
We expected a great deal from Roger Torraway, although he was not much different from any of the other astronauts: a little overtrained, a lot underemployed, a good deal discontented with what was happening in their jobs, but very much unwilling to trade them for any others as long as there was still a chance t
Oleksandr Zholud
This is formally a SF novel, which in truth is part satire part Kafkaesque. It was published in 1976 and won Nebula and was nominated for Hugo and Locus. I read is as a part of monthly reading for June 2020 at Hugo & Nebula Awards: Best Novels group.

On a surface it is a rather straightforward SF story: the Cold War may turn hot and to boost popularity of ‘free world’ the US president starts a program for the colonization of Mars. It is surmised that bringing equipment to Mars for men to survive
Daniel Roy
Mar 16, 2012 rated it did not like it
Meh. As far as SF masterpieces go, this one was pretty bad. I read it as the literary equivalent of a 50's B movie and found a modicum of enjoyment this way, but it was not a particularly interesting or fascinating read.

Man Plus concerns itself with manly astronauts yearning to conquer space, and the women orbiting their lives. If this book had been published in 1956 I would have rolled my eyes and moved on, but for a 1976 book, it's pretty darn backwards. Women are literally there to be lusted
Simon Mcleish
Mar 11, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: owned
Originally published on my blog here in June 2009.

Man Plus won the Nebula award the year before his next novel, Gateway, swept the board of science fiction awards. It could be argued that Gateway is the perfect science fiction novel, because in it Pohl does many of the things which the genre is famous for superlatively: big ideas, interesting (if off-stage) aliens, journeys of personal discovery in intriguing environments, extrapolation of current trends and ideas into the future (in a rather dy
Jan 31, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
In an effort to finish more Grand Masters and Masterworks, and relating to other Mars books read this year, I dove into this pool of Pohl. The water is lukewarm at best.

This story is about establishing a long-term presence on Mars, by altering a Man to fit the environment instead of vice-versa. The added cyborg equipment leads to the title, Man Plus. There is some suspense and a few plot twists, but really this is a novel of relationships. Man to his body, and to his soul (a Catholic Priest is a
Megan Baxter
Jun 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
Timing is everything. Not long ago, I posted a book review about Theodore Sturgeon's More Than Human, and was talking about 1970s-era consideration of what human beings are, and here we have Man Plus as a handy juxtaposition. And it comes to quite a different conclusion, thus ending my attempt to put too neat a chronological classification on this debate. Look at the two broad categories would be an interesting topic for discussion, and I may make a note of it in my list of themes for future sci ...more
Jan 21, 2018 rated it liked it
Read for the 12 Awards in 12 Months Challenge and the SF Masterworks Reading Challenge and Science Fiction Masterworks Reading Club here on Goodreads.

This novel won the 1976 Nebula Award.

Some books stand up to the vicissitudes of time better than others. I'm a big believer in taking vintage SF on its face, and reading it as alternate history in some cases as opposed to a vision of the future, but in this particular case, that was really challenging for me, and I don't recommend it to anyone youn
Jun 21, 2020 rated it liked it
Read as a Monthly Read for Hugo & Nebula Awards: Best Novels.

Initially the quality of the writing seemed great, at times light and witty and at times somber. After the main post of the plot was introduced I was really enthusiastic in reading more about the project and its implementation, but to my disappointment that part of the plot comes to a screeching halt, allowing for interpersonal interactions and character's ruminations come to the front. That part was the least exciting for me to read,
3.0 stars. Classic SF story by Pohl. Just re-read this story for the second time and it does feel a little dated. However, it is still an excellent read and, like much of Pohl's science ficiton, deals with emotional and psychological issues of its characters. In this case, the increasing sense of "disconnect" between the main character and the rest of humanity as a result of being modified to go to Mars.

Winner - Nebula Award Best Novel
Nominee -Hugo Award Best Novel
Nominee - Campbell Award
Charles Dee Mitchell
Nov 30, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: mid-century-sf
In 1953, Frederick Pohl teamed with C.M. Kornbluth and wrote The Space Merchants, one of the greatest American SF novels of the 20th century. And since 19th century precursors would be few and far between and it is too early to start making such calls about the 21st century, I guess I could go ahead and say that Pohl and Kornbluth wrote one of the greatest American SF novels of all time.

Perhaps because Space Merchants is my only other contact with Frederick Pohl, I find myself overly disappointe
Apr 19, 2010 rated it really liked it
...Man Plus includes the dark sense of humour is included in everything I have read of Pohl so far. His portrayal of the US president in particular borders on the satirical at times. The satirical tone of some parts of the novel combined with the grotesque changes to Torraway's physique keep the reader right on the edge of how serious all this should be taken. Over the course of the novel he asks the readers to examine some quite difficult questions and keeps on asking them right up to the end o ...more
Jul 09, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: nebula-award
Excellent premise and story, unfortunately tarnished by Yellow Peril, a straw feminist, American exceptionalism, compulsory heterosexuality (but a complete lack of knowledge of population bottleneck), and a woman whose lovesickness is more important than her qualifications as a top psychologist.
Sci-Fi & Scary
Delaying on my rating only becauseI have to think about how I actually felt about this book for a little bit.
Brent Ecenbarger
Sep 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I'm not sure what I was expecting when this book started, but what I got wasn't it. In Man Plus the United States is attempting to not only send a man to Mars (which in the book has already been done before) but to have him survive long term without a spacesuit of any kind. To do so, the man in question will have to be modified in a few minor ways. You know, just having his skin replaced, most of his organs, castrated, wings added to collect solar energy, whatevs. The premise is given pretty ear ...more
Timothy Boyd
Jan 27, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fantastic early SiFi book. Excellent story on just what we as people and the government will do to affect the public perception. Very recommended
Rui Mateus
It took a while for me to start enjoying this book. It beginning was very dull and I had no idea where the story was going or what would happen to the protagonist. But the Man Plus experience was actually quite interesting and it was the best part. I had low expectations for the ending, but, fortunately, it was pretty cool.
Joe Santoro
Jun 28, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: hard_sf
I really enjoyed this book, but I can't decide if it's good or not.

On the one hand, the basic story of building a better human to colonize Mars to avoid Armegeddon is good, but I almost think the book was trying to do too much.

The political bits gave an idea of what was going on in the world, but it seems like it was far too different from the writer's world of 1976 to have a President in office born during World War II.

Even if you just ignore that throw away line and assume it's 50-100 years f
The premise of this book is that, in the face of his impending self-destruction, Man must colonize Mars both as it will give him a way to survive when things go sideways on Earth, and because it will (somehow) reduce the odds of him destroying himself. This premise goes back to the Golden Age of Science Fiction, of course, when the luminaries of the day felt that to be their mission as writers: To give people dreams of a future beyond the petty problems of Earth. (Ray Bradbury literalizes this a ...more
Jan 27, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: sf-masterworks
This book is a trip down memory lane, I realised after a few chapters I had read this book many years before in a much more battered and less loved edition. Now in its full masterworks glory I picked it up again and read it once more. Many of the scenes were so familiar but at the same time there were subtle under currents and descriptions i had over looked or forgotten. There is something appealing about older (or however you wish to tag it) science fiction - this book was written after all in ...more
Nov 12, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: sf
This is my first Frederik Pohl novel, and it was pretty interesting. The idea of "enhancing" man to make him capable of surviving on Mars as is (i.e. without a protective suit, the necessity of oxygen, food, water and such trivialities) and the gruelling task of realizing that idea is the main premise of the book. But I liked that the topic was much broader - and that is what makes a human, well, human? What to do when you are being stripped of all your external human features, how to cope with ...more
Charles Harrison
Part of my catching up with the classics and boy was this worth it. The story starts reasonably enough with not enormous leaps in technology required to make this very possible. The declining state of political affairs is a common theme in the cold war era books but it seemed like a bit more thought was put into this rather than relying on the usual scenario. Food security was as big a deal as nukes. The tension never goes away and the use of amazing cliffhangers is slightly shameless but worthw ...more
Jan 06, 2015 rated it really liked it
An interesting story about transforming a man into a cyborg in order for him to be able to survive on a pre-terraformed Mars. There are things to think about. However, thinking about it, such extensively transformed bodies to allow colonization doesn't seem believable (both the cost and the human distaste at the idea of such "violence" to one's body).

Pohl craftily sneaks in another element which only becomes clear at the end.

The book is short. It's not one to portray space colonization as easy o
Jun 13, 2009 rated it it was amazing
loved it ending great
Jan 29, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was one of my favorite SF novels when I first read it in high school. When you read it, remember it was written in the mid-70s -- it'll blow your mind. ...more
Joe Osborne
May 15, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: audiobooks

I really enjoyed this. I think it would make an excellent movie.
Althea Ann
Dec 01, 2010 rated it it was ok
Some interesting ideas, some unnecessary sexism, and a "big reveal" at the end which is unrelated to the other issues brought up by the story. ...more
Dec 11, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I read this book for an assignment and report in school as a child. How could I not give it 5 stars, Got an A !
Jan 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing
An interesting classic from the mid 70s - especially in regards to current computer tech.
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Frederik George Pohl, Jr. was an American science fiction writer, editor and fan, with a career spanning over seventy years. From about 1959 until 1969, Pohl edited Galaxy magazine and its sister magazine IF winning the Hugo for IF three years in a row. His writing also won him three Hugos and multiple Nebula Awards. He became a Nebula Grand Master in 1993.

Other books in the series

Man Plus (2 books)
  • Mars Plus (Man Plus #2)

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