Cover of first edition (hardcover)
|Cover artist||Paul Gamarello|
|Genre||Science fiction novel|
|Media type||Print (hardback & paperback)|
|LC Class||PZ4.P748 Man PS3566.O36|
|Followed by||Mars Plus, 1994|
Man Plus is a 1976 science fiction novel by American writer Frederik Pohl. It won the Nebula Award for Best Novel in 1976, was nominated for the Hugo and Campbell Awards, and placed third in the annual Locus Poll in 1977. Pohl teamed up with Thomas T. Thomas to write a sequel, Mars Plus, published in 1994.
In the not-too-distant future, a cold war threatens to turn hot. Colonization of Mars seems to be mankind's only hope of surviving certain Armageddon. To facilitate this, the American government begins a cyborg program to create a being capable of surviving the harsh Martian environment: Man Plus. After the death of the first candidate, due to the project supervisors forgetting to enhance his brain's ability to process sensory input to cope with the new stimuli he is receiving, Roger Torraway becomes the heart of the program.
In order to survive in the thin Martian atmosphere, Roger Torraway's body must be replaced with an artificial one. At every step he becomes more and more disconnected from humanity, unable to feel things in his new body. It is only after arriving on Mars that his new body begins to make sense to him. It is perfectly adapted to this new world, and thus he becomes perfectly separated from his old world, and from humanity.
The success of the Martian mission spurs similar cyborg programs in other spacefaring nations. It is revealed that the computer networks of Earth have become sentient, and that ensuring humanity's survival will guarantee theirs as well. In the end, the network is puzzled; it appears that something else was behind the push to space, a mystery even to the machines.
New York Times reviewer Gerald Jonas received the novel unfavorably, saying "Pohl seems to have lost his touch entirely. . . . the social extrapolation in Man Plus is simple-minded and the irony heavy-handed." Spider Robinson found Man Plus to be "tight, suspenseful, at times gruesomely fascinating," but faulted it for "one dumptruck-sized hole" in its plotting.
A common theme in science fiction is existentialist isolation, whether isolation starting from within, or the separation of human beings from other species, or the effects of the isolation of Earth from the rest of the universe by great distances. In Man Plus, a human being is transformed into a cyborg being. The physical transformation is examined in great detail as it is echoed in the increasing distance between Roger Torraway and his wife, and between Roger and the rest of humanity.
Man Plus also makes much of the (assumed, rather than argued) difficulty of separating the way one thinks from what one is, and vice versa: Roger Torraway's new artificial body strongly affects how he interacts with the world around him.
- Source: WorldCat entry on "Man plus"
- Pohl, Frederik (1976). Man Plus. Random House. ISBN 0-394-48676-5. (Note: unless otherwise noted, all statements in this article regarding the contents of Man Plus are based on the book itself).
- Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, Inc. (2006-12-03). "Nebula Awards Past Winners". Retrieved 2007-01-11.
- Locus Index to SF Awards
- Pohl, Frederik; Thomas T. Thomas (1994). Mars Plus. Baen Books. ISBN 0-671-87605-8.
- "Of Things to Come", The New York Times Book Review, October 17, 1976
- "Galaxy Bookshelf", Galaxy Science Fiction, May 1977, p.142
- Man Plus at Worlds Without End