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Man Plus

(Man Plus #1)

3.74  ·  Rating details ·  7,195 ratings  ·  235 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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3.74  · 
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 ·  7,195 ratings  ·  235 reviews

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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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
Lilyn G. | Sci-Fi & Scary
Delaying on my rating only becauseI have to think about how I actually felt about this book for a little bit.
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
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.
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
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
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.
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 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.
Jan 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing
An interesting classic from the mid 70s - especially in regards to current computer tech.
Jun 13, 2009 rated it it was amazing
loved it ending great
Joe Osborne
May 15, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: audiobooks

I really enjoyed this. I think it would make an excellent movie.
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
Feb 21, 2018 rated it liked it
A classic of hard Science Fiction that although it is a good read is somewhat problematic today. It follows the story a manned (it's only men, really) mission to mars, where they are Mars-forming a human astronaut to be able to live with no assistance in Mars conditions.

The book is great in what comes to describing the experience of becoming something other than human and it isn't so great at portraying women. Women are here just sex objects (Dorrie), on a honeypot mission where they pretend to
This book made it onto my shelf thanks to being one of only a few on a short list I found of scifi books exploring transhumanism. Transhumanism is the term used for the desire to go beyond human capabilities through integrating technology into ourselves. So it wouldn’t be transhumanist to use a smartphone, but it would be transhumanist to embed a smartphone’s computer chip into your brain. In fact, things like knee replacements and pacemakers are transhumanist. It’s a fascinating topic. In any c ...more
Galen Strickland
I recall liking this when I read it about 40 years ago. Now, not so much. The core story of a cyborg man growing into his new abilities and perceptions could have been told in a short story, or novelette at the most. Instead we get a lot of cliched personal drama and inconsistent political machinations. The twist at the end is not enough to save it.
Edwin Baeyens
Jan 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: books-i-own
The near future. Earth is heading for a nuclear war, and the only thing that seems to be able to save mankind, is relocating to Mars. Roger Thorraway is the first man to go there, and he is made into a cyborg in order to be able to live on Mars. Solid ideas, but a lot of attention is given to Thorraway's thoughts and emotions.
An excellent science fiction novel, with some great ideas and interesting characters, albeit not really exciting.
Jamie Rich
Jun 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
Man Plus (Man Plus #1) by Frederik Pohl

This story was published 17 years ago, but is still relevant today. Yes, the technology to transform a human into a cyborg that can live on the surface of Mars is nonexistent. And probably always will be. But look past the parts where they rebuild the Six Billion Dollar Man, and the story holds up.
The characters are a bit one dimensional, but for this tale it works. And our hero does undergo many transformative events in his journey.
So it's a quick read,
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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)
“I was worried about sex," he went on. "But you know what, Sulie? It's like being told I can't have any caviar for the next couple years. I don't even like caviar. And when you come right down to it, I don't want sex right now. I supposed you punched that into the computer? 'Cut down sex drive, increase euphoria'? Anyway, it finally penetrated my little brain that I was just making trouble for myself, worrying about whether I could get along without something I really didn't want. It's a reflection of what I think other people think I should want.” 13 likes
“The bump of ego on his skull had swollen large, so he saw the whole world in terms of what it could give him.” 2 likes
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