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Monday, October 10, 2011

Machine Man

Machine Man
by Max Barry
(3/5 stars)

There are a lot of books that start off with a good idea, but then fade with the execution of that idea.  "Machine Man" is one of those.  It starts off with a good concept, but doesn't deliver.

Dr. Charles Neumann is an engineer who's always gotten along better with machines than people.  He works at Better Future, a research and development company that creates all sorts of products.  One day Charles is looking for his phone in the lab when he accidentally gets his leg torn of by a machine.

Charles is rushed to the hospital, where he meets Lola, who works with prostheses.  She shows him the variety of legs they have available and Charles laments how primitive they are.  So after returning to work, he decides to invent something better.  Which he does.  He creates mechanical legs that are stronger, faster, better.

But Charles doesn't want to stop there.  Nor does Better Future want him to.

I had to sympathize with Charles at the beginning.  When I get blisters from my stupid hammertoes I wonder why I can't get sweet robot feet that wouldn't blister or get tired.  Then I could walk all day if I wanted to!  At the same time I don't think I'd want to cut off my own legs to do that.  Nor would I want to turn myself into Robocop.

That's basically what happens to Charles as the book goes on.  Increasingly he becomes more machine than man as Ben Kenobi said about Darth Vader.  It's harder to sympathize with him then as the book goes on.  Really after the interesting concept at the start it keeps getting darker and darker.  That's not really where I wanted to see it go.  I was hoping for something a little more lighthearted, as it was in the beginning.  But I guess if you like your humor really black, then this isn't bad.

That is all.

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