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RoboCop meets Nathanael West's A Cool Million in Barry's cautionary satire of the future of bio-augmentation. Dr. Charlie Neumann (get it?), an employee at the bioengineering company Better Future, loses his leg in an industrial accident and has it replaced with a prosthesis. After tinkering with and improving his artificial leg, Charlie loses his remaining good leg, but this time it's no accident; he likes being able to make artificial upgrades to his body. So do his employers, who see the military applications of Charlie's fixation and put him in charge of a project to modify the human body with mil-spec prostheses. When one of the other test subjects, a security guard who has had his arms replaced, goes rogue and kidnaps Lola Shanks, the prosthetics expert who has become the object of Charlie's affection, Charlie sets off to hunt down the monster he has helped to create. Like Mary Shelley's famous creation, this story and character are rather stitched together, and doesn't achieve a life or identity of its own. The result is a pastiche that, like Charlie, stays too wrapped up in its own head to grip the reader on a more emotional level. (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.
Engineer Charlie Neumann, employed by military contractor Better Future, understands what it takes to keep up with technology's rapidly quickening forward march. After losing a leg in an industrial accident, he is appalled by the lack of technology available for human prostheses. Taking it upon himself to reengineer his prosthetic leg and faced with the incompatibility of his body, he has to decide how far he wants to reengineer his existing parts to fit his new technology. Machine Man focuses on the human drive for self-improvement, especially when it looks like self-destruction to an outsider. Barry's razor-sharp authorial voice perfectly articulates Charlie's inner desires, and anyone who's worked with, studied as, or loved an engineer will appreciate the host of in-jokes that pepper the novel. With clever commentary on the military-industrial complex and the modern consumer's desires, Barry brings a nerdy sense of humor to an entirely believable premise no longer limited to the realm of science fiction. Darkly comic, genuinely tender, with more than a few great fight scenes, this is a triumph.--Turza, Stephani. Copyright 2010 Booklist