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The Whole Man

3.68  ·  Rating details ·  444 ratings  ·  38 reviews
First publication.
A fixup of three novellas:
Curative Telepath
The Whole Man
City of the Tiger
Mass Market Paperback, #U2219, 188 pages
Published August 1964 by Ballantine (first published 1964)
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Average rating 3.68  · 
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 ·  444 ratings  ·  38 reviews

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Sep 09, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: scifi, 2fiction, 1paper
There were a lot of interesting things going on in this world besides having telepaths, but very little of it is SF. There isn't much tech at all & most of that is what would have been found in the 1970s.
- The UN has response teams that go all over the world battling terrorism & it happens in 'Our Town, USA'.
- Unwed mothers are still looked down upon & use pregnancy as a trap for men.
- The poverty, inequity, & grim, daily grind of this typical US city.
- Ulan Bator (Mongolia) is
Nandakishore Varma
Another oldie from my engineering undergraduate period (1980-85). This was the time I was really getting hooked on SF, but still was not fully able to capture all the unspoken nuances of the genre. The Public Library at Thrissur had a fantastic collection of old books - SF, mystery, almost all of Wodehouse and Agatha Christie, books on mathematics by Martin Gardner: all old, musty, almost-falling-apart books. The library itself is located in the Town Hall, a colonial building with cavernous ...more
Sunyi Dean
Aug 19, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fantasy
#shortreview for Instagram:

I finished reading the Telepathist this morning. It was a sad and rather brutal novel, about a man whose physical deformities enable him to develop powerful mental capabilities (telepathy, in this case). There's some dystopian-esque spy stuff going on in the background but the story is heavily character centric, with an unflinching examination of the ways in which society simultaneously exploits and abandons disabled individuals. Some of the language would likely be
Storyline: 2/5
Characters: 3/5
Writing Style: 4/5
World: 3/5

Brunner starts this off with focus. The writing is vivid and tight, conveying an aura as much as a story. The picture of the world is closely guarded; grudging glimpses are permitted only sporadically and under close supervision. A grey fog of angst, deprivation, uncertainty pervades the telling - is the story. This was supposed to be a character-driven work, and there were some valid attempts to peer deeply into personal ambitions and
Akin to Sturgeon's More Than Human with its telepathic themes, and brimming with the seeds of Brunner's future masterpiece Zanzibar, The Whole Man promises much, but too straggly to deliver.
Mar 11, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
At some places, this is too heavy and too introspective. Other sections are intense and gripping. The main issue with the novel is its inconsistency - I do remember it being a fix-up novel of sorts, which may account for some of the scattered quality.

Brunner's tossing Freud all around is a little too obnoxious for me. But I did enjoy the very telepath-and-society sort of relationship that is constantly explored throughout this novel.

I have a little reservation about this being four-stars
Feb 22, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sf
review of
John Brunner's The Whole Man
by tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE - February 22, 2012

John Brunner is growing on me.. like that mildew on the dragon in Choong's fantasy.. not like a disease but like a thorough level of detail.. This is the 3rd bk I've read by him. In the beginning there was The World Swappers ( ), wch I thought was pretty good but I wasn't exactly overwhelmed or anything; then there was Times Without Number (
The British science-fiction author John Brunner is best known for writing quite a few stories that were basically cyberpunk avant la lettre. I can definitely see the inspiration here in his "Telepathist" published in 1965. The plot takes place in a future where the UN employs a corps of psychics as problem-solvers that are the only thing holding the corrupt and war-ridden world together. The storyline follows a deformed young man named Gerry Howson who is discovered to be the most powerful ...more
Stuart McMillan
Brunner has always been one of those British authors who has been a bit Marmite for me.

There have been highbrow and detailed dystopian futures (Stand on Zanzibar, The Sheep Look Up), predictive futures (the internet, computer viruses in 'The Shockwave Rider') and considerable other work of space opera and poorly received works like 'Children of the Tunder'.

'The Telepathist' came before the magnum opus of 'Zanzibar' and 'Sheep' and feels like an author trying to make his way with something new.

Paul Silver
Not one of Brunner's best, partly because it hasn't aged as well as novels like The Sheep Look Up and Stand on Zanzibar.

Telepathist explores one man's life as he discovers his latent telepathic power, in a future depression after some sort of terrorist event. Hawson, disabled from birth, has one of the strongest powers found, but can he develop it for good?

Brunner's characterisation and way of looking at telepathy is more interesting than many novels, but I just wasn't taken by this as much as
Steph Bennion
Jan 22, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
I usually shy away from telepathy in sci-fi as, well, the notion just seems too fantastic. This book is the first I've read that offers an explanation (of sorts) of why some people are telepathic, but also looks at the social consequences of all involved (like good sci-fi is supposed to). Some of it is rather dated and the ending is rather abrupt but the book remains a refreshing take on the subject.
Jan 28, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A solid effort from Brunner, a uniformly intelligent and engaging story of a deformed telepath. As depressing some of the material is, the book has an unusually positive (if melancholy) vibe to it. Quick, fine read.
Jun 13, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A Good Read. My only quibble It was originally three short stories. Although it was supposedly greatly revised, it still seems like three stories strung together. But don't let that get in the way of enjoying it.
Carlos Servellon
A pulpier, more straightforward read than Stand on Zanzibar. Not bad, but not as rewarding, especially on rereading.
Keary Birch
Feb 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014
Excellent. But I think I read this as another story somewhere before.
Jan 10, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Grade B+.
Aug 13, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A book with incredible ideas born of an amazing imagination. John Brunner's mind is so big on the inside, it's like a cavernous Hall full of different displays of all different sorts from all different fields. Here he has taken on writing about telepaths, but not the ordinary ideas about telepathy, where the telepath is horrified with the thoughts of the humans around. This story takes the subject of telepathy further steps.
I wonder at the thinking processes of our pets when I read this
James Garman
Feb 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people that like to explode what makes a human being human
John Brunner paints a beautiful picture of a man born in a deformed body, but gifted with the ability to send and receive thoughts. He finds what he thinks might be a way to get some recognition and a bit of money leads to him being a wildly respected healing. What's more is that he becomes a whole in ways he never imagined.

A very well written short novel (only 188 pages) that left me on the edge of my seat. A wonderful list of characters, some with gifts that are unrecognized
Mar 04, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not having any idea what to expect left me following along with the story with interest as the turns kept me guessing at the overall plot of the book. I found it quite satisfying to read the various story fragments that were tied together. The various introspective narratives left a great base for comtemplation on the body, mind and the human condition.
Abraham Goldblatt
Nov 30, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Intriguing depictions of mental combat and the idea of using telepathy as a therapy tool is amazing!
Oct 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Published in the US as The Whole Man.

I picked this and another Brunner - The Long Result - up in a bookstore in London in 1973. I think I must have read the two of them 2 or 3 times during that summer, as I traveled hither and thither across Europe.

Very thought-provoking for me, mostly in a good way.

What I learned from this book:
Things that happen to us have long term impact - emotional/mental, not just physical. Letting others in to help us is as important as helping them is - even if/though it
Sep 29, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
Gerald Howson was born deformed and fatherless. His mother thought that getting pregnant might keep Gerald's father from carrying out his self-destructive act of terrorism. It did not. But Gerald has a hidden power that makes its appearance with he is in his late teens: Gerald can read and control other people's minds. The "telepaths" are feared but are responsible for stopping terrorism and war. This is a short but powerful book, properly considered a sci fi classic.
Antony Castellano
Gerald Howson didn't look powerful. His body was deformed at birth, leaving him with a face so ugly people didn't want to look at him, and crippled legs that would never let him be as other men. But his mind was one in a billion - gifted with the ability to send and receive thoughts more powerfully than any other person on the face of the globe.
Joy H.
Added 9/14/16. (first published 1964)
Hugo Award Nominee for Best Novel (1965)
Recommended by Jim in my GR group.
See Jim's review at:

Neither of my 2 public libraries have this book but they do have other books by John Brunner.
Mar 25, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Read for book club. Science fiction - so I was not too keen to get started. It pleasantly surprised me...a good story, not too far out science-fiction styles. Featured a telepathy unit of the WHO, which made me smile.
So 60s!!! Loved it! Telepaths gone wild
May 26, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Disappointing. Was expecting a whole lot more..then it ended.
Disfigured man is a telepathist
May 16, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fix-up novel. Good, but not great, I would say.
Telepathy - nothing special.
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Goodreads Librari...: Cover - Telepathist by John Brunner 3 16 Nov 10, 2014 06:15AM  

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John Brunner was born in Preston Crowmarsh, near Wallingford in Oxfordshire, and went to school at St Andrew's Prep School, Pangbourne, then to Cheltenham College. He wrote his first novel, Galactic Storm, at 17, and published it under the pen-name Gill Hunt, but he did not start writing full-time until 1958. He served as an officer in the Royal Air Force from 1953 to 1955, and married Marjorie ...more