Thursday, September 15, 2011

We Can Rebuild Him

     Does anyone remember The Six Million Dollar Man?  Apparently Kevin Smith does (he's involved in a new comic book based on his movie script for an aborted cinematic update of the concept).  I do, too, with extreme fondness.  I was just the right age for the slow-motion heroics and to embrace Lee Majors' somewhat stony interpretation of the part.  The concept of a man becoming that intimate with technology (his right arm, left eye and both legs were bionic) did not particularly trouble me.  Cyborgs were already de rigueur in Sci-Fi, familiar even to a wee lad like me.  And, after all, it wasn't as though the technology was having a psychological effect on him.
     I bet Max Barry remembers it, too.  In Machine Man, he takes the central idea of the cyborg and adds in all the abnormal psychology, corporate menace and black humor that The Six Million Dollar Man did not feature.  Barry's wicked and disturbing take on corporate shenanigans was on full display in his excellent Jennifer Government and is not in short order here either. You also get a compulsively readable style, a morally dubious protagonist who Barry magnificently put you fully on the side of, and an unexpectedly poignant love story.  I suppose that it goes without saying that the examination of a world (and a man) that is so willing to integrate itself on the most intimate level with technology is all the more relevant now than it was back in the 1970's.  Unlike the fondly remembered Six Million Dollar Man, Machine Man is not about a cyborg hero, but is all about the psychological weight of the technology we embrace.

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