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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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Amazon.com: 8 reviews
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
When Fantasy is Better than Reality Jan. 26 2003
By Patrick Shepherd - Published on Amazon.com
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)
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
A more personal recommendation of John Brunner. Aug. 29 2003
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
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.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Interesting twist on the "whole man" theory April 29 2002
By anthony wallace - Published on Amazon.com
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!
How to be human Dec 22 2013
By Alan Justice - Published on Amazon.com
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.
underwhelming mix of sf and humanism July 26 2013
By J. Higgins - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
`The Whole Man' was first published in 1964 as a fix-up of three stories Brunner published in the late 50s in sf magazines. The novel went through a number of reprintings, with various publishers, throughout the 60s and 70s.

The story opens in the near-future, in a city unnamed but probably London. The social order has collapsed; anarchists are detonating bombs, and food is scarce. UN forces are converging on the city to restore order. Amidst this unrest, a sickly, impoverished woman named Sarah Howson gives birth to a male baby.

Gerald Howson is underweight, suffers from a clubbed foot, and a spinal malformation; as he matures he becomes a recluse in his rundown neighborhood. When his mother dies at an early age Gerald is left to fend for himself as best he can. But Gerald has a gift to offset his deformity; he can `hear' extraordinarily well. In fact, Gerald Howson is a telepath, perhaps the most gifted such being on the planet.

In due course Howson finds himself recruited into an elite unit of UN telepaths, stationed in Ulan Bator. The UN telepath unit is charged with using their abilities to control violence and conflict throughout the world. Gerald's talent enables him to do more than simply tap into the thoughts of others; he is able to enter into the intense dream state, or `catapathic trance', that can ensnare the too self-indulgent telepath.

When one of the UN's most important telepaths becomes caught in a catapathic trance, it's up to Gerald Howson to intrude upon the man's fantasy and restore sanity. But such a therapy is not without risk, for once inside his patient's daydream, Howson is vulnerable to the whims and decisions of his host; a false move, and Howson will find his own psyche fatally trapped within the selfsame trance.....

`Whole' is typical of Brunner's fix-ups from the late 60s - early 70s; a workmanlike effort, but devoid of the conscious effort he applied to newer works such as `The Shockwave Rider' and "The Sheep Look Up'. `Whole' suffers in part from its rather fragmented origins; the narrative thread linking the three main segments of the book is a bit thin.

There is not much in the way of real action in the novel; rather, it is a deliberately-paced character study of Gerald Howson's emotional journey from being a crippled outcast to the `whole man' of the book's title.

I suspect `The Whole Man' will really only appeal to Brunner completists and to those looking for the type of `inner space' - directed novel that came of age during the New Wave movement.

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