Review: Machine Man by Max Berry

So Max Barry had a cool idea about a man who finds the human body limiting and does something about it. First by accident, but then a grinding slicing and dicing of his body, augmenting as he goes.

Interestingly enough, he serialized the book, Machine Man, on his blog. A page at a time. This worked really well, resulting in:

  1. A movie directed by Darren Aronofsky. (2012) It’s filming now.
  2. A full-length novel (it’s different from the serial). This is what I read. It’s longer and more fleshed out. I found it an enjoyable read. Definitely has a made-to-movie quality about it, and the nemesis was forced, but overall it was a quick, fun read that brought up key issues with human augmentation.
  3. A community filled with “ideas, predictions, and explanations” from fans.

Cool model. Anyway, I read his completed book. From what I understand, it’s longer and more fleshed out.

Machine Man (Vintage Contemporaries Original)

Overall, I found it an enjoyable read. The plot definitely has a made-to-movie quality about it – particularly the forced nemesis – but it doesn’t get bothersome. I enjoyed the protagonist’s development:

I didn’t feel inferior so much as incompatible. Carl existed on a plane where success was measured by physical feats. He had a brain because his body needed it, rather than the opposite. I didn’t understand such people, I didn’t know what they wanted, or might do.

As well as the cybernetic technology and the philosophy around it:

Biology was not ideal. When you thought about it, biological legs couldn’t do anything except convey a small mass from A to B, so long as A and B were not particularly far apart and you were in no hurry.

My body really needed to realize that I didn’t take orders from internal organs. I was a consciousness serviced and supported b a biological host, not the other way around. These self interested lumps of meat and synapses, they had better get with the program, because if it came down to them or me, it was going to be me.

Nothing groundbreaking, but a good way to kill a few hours… or wait for the movie.

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