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WHOLE MAN Mass Market Paperback – Feb 12 1970

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Mass Market Paperback, Feb 12 1970
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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books (Feb. 12 1970)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 034521885X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345218858
  • Shipping Weight: 172 g

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 9 reviews
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
When Fantasy is Better than Reality Jan. 26 2003
By Patrick Shepherd - Published on
Format: Paperback
Brunner was known to be a very workman-like author, producing many works that were quite readable but not particularly special. But in the mid-sixties he seemed to mature and produced a whole series of excellent to great novels, from Stand on Zanzibar to The Jagged Orbit. This work is part of that period of excellence.
If telepathy is a rare but very real talent, just how does society as a whole make productive use of it? One obvious use is to find out exactly what is wrong with people who are mentally ill, to become the ultimate psychiatrist, and if the talent extends to 'projection' of thoughts onto another brain, to effect corrective changes in the ill mind. With acceptance of this talent, the definition of 'ill' could possibly be extended to those who are violent, the trouble-makers of society. Coupled with a far more effective UN than exists today, telepaths could be used to help defuse the attitudes and situations that lead to revolutions and wars. This is the background against which Brunner tells a tale of a child of just such an aborted revolution, a child born with physical deformities, an uncaring mother and a dead father. Gerald Howson grows up without hope, the object of ridicule, trapped in a cycle of minimal dead-end jobs that are limited by his deformities.
But in his early twenties, he suddenly finds that he is one of the fabled telepaths, and a very powerful one. His first real use of the talent is to draw a deaf and dumb girl into a detailed fantasy, made more than real by his talent, a fantasy neither would really wish to wake from. Forcibly dragged out of this fantasy by other telepaths who have tracked down his radiated power, he is taken to the UN center for training and rehabilitation. But Gerald is far from a whole man at this point, and the story of his growth and maturation forms the balance of the work.
The characterization of Gerald is excellent, a man we can see change and empathize with. Many of the secondary characters are just as sharply delineated, and the interplay between them and the envisioned world society so dominated by the actions of the UN peace-keeping forces forms a convincing picture of what could be. Issues of privacy, individuality, self-responsibility, and the proper use of power form the thematic backbone, highlighted against some vivid scenes of internal mental worlds that demonstrate just how alluring living inside such a fantasy can be.
Portions of this book are somewhat dated, from the use of typewriters to a stated method of trying to combine music and visual form, which has been long superceded by modern computer integration of the two. But these technological items are almost irrelevant to the thrust of the story, of just what it is that man does beyond surviving to give him that inner feeling of correctness and satisfaction with doing something that is worth doing.
Incomprehensibly out of print, this book was nominated for the 1965 Hugo Award, and to my mind is better than the book that won that year, Fritz Leiber's The Wanderer.
--- Reviewed by Patrick Shepherd (hyperpat)
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
A more personal recommendation of John Brunner. Aug. 29 2003
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Paperback
Back in 1978 as a Peace Corp Volunteer in a Moslem country, John Brunner's Whole Man hooked me into Science Fiction. This novel is set in the near future and opens up in a still war-torn Israel. As a consequence of this book, I went on to read all his other fine, near-future novels, such as Stand on Zanibar, The Sheep Look Up, etc. This novel was the first step in an enduring and satisfying 20+year trek through the SciFic/Fantasy genres.
I was saddened to hear of Mr. Brunner's passing over a decade ago and it's a pity to see his novels go out-of-print. His novels are thought-provoking and very, relevant to the modern human condition. The Whole Man makes a fine addition to any teacher's in-class library which may be directed at your advanced middle school and proficient high school readers. As it was for me, it may easily be that inspiring break-through to the Science Fiction genre for girls.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Interesting twist on the "whole man" theory April 29 2002
By anthony wallace - Published on
The main character is remarkably even spirited even though he was born into abject poverty with severe physical handicaps - including a twisted, ugly, stunted body. His one gift is a remarkable psychic mental gift - the ability to project and read thoughts from great distances. When he is finally discovered, captured and brought to the institute where his talents can be developed, he becomes one of the most gifted "psychics" in the world. He never even attempts to use his power selfishly. A very uplifting story with numerous philosophical themes or "sub-issues" of universal importance which are woven, unobtrusively, throughout this rather short novel. I wish the author had done a "series" on the life of the main character!
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
How to be human Dec 22 2013
By Alan Justice - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition
Brunner's story takes the reader on a journey toward wholeness. There are no villains in the book, no evil people. There's plenty of pain, but this is a story about where pain comes from and how to endure it and grow out of it. It's science fiction, in that it's set sometime in the future and deals with telepathy. But is very much a tale of how to become a (better) human being.
An absorbing story with a serious theme Feb. 10 2011
By David Austin - Published on
Format: Paperback
The Whole Man is an engaging and stimulating novel from John Brunner which does, in my opinion, what science fiction does best. It takes a theme of immediate relevance to the present-day world we are familiar with it and explores it with new freedom enabled by the use of an unfamiliar and fantastical setting. The particular theme of this book, as I understand it, is the role of physicality in the make-up of the human person.

A good deal of science fiction, at the time when this novel was written (the early '60s), seemed very keen on the notion of human beings becoming disembodied intellects. But contemporary tastes (then and now) are - arguably - better reflected in Brunner's treatment of the matter. This work, unlike some others, acknowledges the importance of maintaining humans as physical as well as mental.

The Whole Man presents us with the character of Gerald Howson, whose superior mental and psionic abilities owe their existence to spare brain capacity, normally occupied by a "body image," vacated by reason of physical disability. Despite having gained an enviable position of respect as "curative telepathist first class, World Health Organization," he does not consider himself to be fully human because he sees himself as "a runt."

Brunner's vision, therefore, expresses the need to maintain physicality (whether "runt" or "Adonis"/"Aphrodite") if we are to remain human. This view contradicts a good deal of science fiction (particularly from that era and earlier) where the human of the future was perceived as primarily mental. Brunner thus challenges that more common - and uncomfortably dualistic - view in a highly absorbing story.

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