Random House Vintage (US & CA: 9th August 2011); Scribe (AU: August 2011)
Buy (US) Buy (UK) Buy (CA) Buy (Worldwide)
Comparisons with Eric Garcia’s The Repossession Mambo (republished as Repo Men) are inevitable, but Max Barry’s Machine Man is a different beast. Dr. Charles Neumann’s leg is amputated in a workplace accident, and he’s less than impressed with the prostheses on offer – though he rather fancies the prosthetist, Lola Shanks.
Charlie designs a better prosthetic leg, so good that his remaining human one seems ridiculously inefficient. And so he recreates the initial accident to amputate his human leg.
Machine Man shows that there is a very thin line between self-mutilation and self-improvement, and it’s all objective. Max Barry excels in creating excellent female characters, and fans will be cheering for Charlie and Lola to work things out.
The dialogue is smart and snappy, exampled by this from Lola: “But I don’t think there’s a way for people to fall in love that isn’t weird.” So true. There’s also a meta section discussing a novel’s cover art. Quote Charlie: “Why would they make the cover wrong like that?” My theory is that publishers depict what they WANT a novel to be, rather than what it IS, though that should be worked out in editing…
But I digress. Machine Man is a great read, up until the point where the military becomes involved and I lost interest a bit, but it’s still well worth picking up. I still love Eric Garcia’s The Repossession Mambo so much more, though – that book has my heart.