The Plot

(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

President Deshatine makes an important visit to Tonka, Oklahoma, the home of U.S. astronauts and the center of the Mars colonization program run by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Convinced he is under intense political pressure at home and abroad in an unstable mid-twenty-first century world, Deshatine orders the immediate acceleration of the program’s Man Plus project, which is developing a cyborg capable of living on Mars. Astronaut Roger Torraway and his wife, Dorrie, meet with the president, as Roger is fourth in line for conversion to a cyborg.

Fourth place rapidly becomes first. At an advanced stage of his evolution, lead astronaut Willy Harnett dies of heart failure. Harnett’s first alternate is removed from the program by presidential order, and his alternate, in turn, is inactivated after breaking a leg. For the short run, Roger becomes America’s best hope for initiating Mars colonization.

A series of chapters relates ingenious technical details about Roger’s conversion into Man Plus. Roger’s head, for example, becomes a bizarre-looking piece of machinery. A sensory array fanning out like bat ears substitutes for his human eyes and ears. His heart, circulatory system, and musculature are mechanized and electronically controlled, and his genitals are removed. Roger nevertheless retains many of his emotional and sentient capacities. Indeed, these are sufficient to convince him, as he becomes a cyborg, that...

(The entire section is 469 words.)