The Whole Man

John Brunner
The Whole Man Cover

The Whole Man - Touching Humanity


Stories around telepathy are a common fare in sci-fi novels of the 60s and 70s; but this novel stands far apart from the genre. This is instead a very well written and touching story about humanity and how those with disabilities are regarded within a modern society. Even reading this in 2015, it is clear that our attitudes in these area have little changed, much to our collective shame.

Also for those not familiar with Mr Brunner's work this is unique. It is not high concept sci-fi; there is no use of invented language or clever plot constructs - this is a simple tale, extremely well told, engaging and touching; which to me stands out as the authors best and most accessible work.

So with spoilers avoided, this is a tale of a physically disabled man subject to a tragic upgringing who also discovers he has telepathic powers; and despite him being held far from acceptance in human society, he still uses his gift positively by trying to help those with mental illness. The story is short, engaging and touching which involves a very vivid battle with ancient chinese dragon at one point which is far from what any synopsis would lead a reader to expect.

Many find the ending disappointing of which I disagree. Since this is a story about disability and philanthropy, the only ending which can deliver justice to this touching tale is from another human, who also suffers, yet shares similar values to the protagonist.

For me this is Brunners best. Not a long book, unpretentious, touching and engaging. Highly recommended.