The Terminal Man

The Terminal Man

4.0 68
by Michael Crichton

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Hearry Benson suffers from violent seizures. When he becomes part of an experimental program that sends electrodes to his brain to calm him, he is in recovery. Until he discovers how to get those soothing pulses more frequently, and then escapes the hopsital--on a murderous rampage with a deadly agenda....

From the Trade Paperback edition.  See more details below


Hearry Benson suffers from violent seizures. When he becomes part of an experimental program that sends electrodes to his brain to calm him, he is in recovery. Until he discovers how to get those soothing pulses more frequently, and then escapes the hopsital--on a murderous rampage with a deadly agenda....

From the Trade Paperback edition.

Editorial Reviews
Harry Benson suffers from painful, violence-inducing seizures. In an effort to alleviate this problem, Benson undergoes an experimental medical procedure in which electrodes are attached to his brain's trouble spots -- if all goes well, timed jolts of electricity will correct his disability. But when Benson learns to turn up the juice whenever he pleases, his murderous rampage begins.

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HarperCollins Publishers
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4.20(w) x 7.40(h) x 1.00(d)

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Terminal Man

Chapter One

They came down to the emergency ward at noon and sat on the bench just behind the swinging doors that led in from the ambulance parking slot. Ellis, the senior man, was tense, preoccupied, distant. The younger man, Morris, was eating a candy bar. He crumpled the wrapper into the pocket of his white jacket.

From where they sat, they could look at the sunlight outside, falling across the big sign that said EMERGENCY WARD and the smaller sign that said NO PARKING AMBULANCES ONLY. In the distance they heard sirens.

"Is that him?" Ellis asked.

Morris checked his watch. "I doubt it. It's too early."

They sat on the bench and listened to the sirens come closer. Ellis removed his glasses and wiped them with his tie. One of the emergency ward nurses, a girl Morris did not know by name, came over and said brightly, "Is this the welcoming committee?"

Ellis squinted at her. Morris said, "We'll be taking him straight through. Do you have his chart down here?"

The nurse said, "Yes, I think so, Doctor," and walked off looking irritated.

Ellis sighed. He replaced his glasses and frowned at the nurse. "I suppose the whole damned hospital knows."

"It's a pretty big secret to keep."

The sirens were very close now; through the windows they saw an ambulance back into the slot. Two orderlies opened the door and pulled out the stretcher. A frail elderly woman lay on the stretcher, gasping for breath, making wet gurgling sounds. Severe pulmonary edema, Morris thought as he watched her taken into one of the treatment rooms.

"I hope he's in good shape," Ellissaid.



"Why shouldn't he be?"

"They might have roughed him up." Ellis stared morosely out the windows. He really is in a bad mood, Morris thought. He knew that meant Ellis was excited; he had scrubbed in on enough cases with Ellis to recognize the pattern. Irascibility under pressure while he waited — and then total, almost lazy calm when the operation began. "Where the hell is he?" Ellis said, looking at his watch again.

To change the subject, Morris said, "Are we all set for three-thirty?" At 3:30 that afternoon, Benson would be presented to the hospital staff at a special Neurosurgical Rounds.

"As far as I know," Ellis said. "Ross is making the presentation. I just hope Benson's in good shape."

Over the loudspeaker, a soft voice said, "Dr. Ellis, Dr. John Ellis, two-two-three-four. Dr. Ellis, two-two-three-four."

Ellis got up to answer the page. "Hell," he said.

Morris knew that two-two-three-four was the extension for the animal laboratories. The call probably meant something had gone wrong with the monkeys. Ellis had been doing three monkeys a week for the past month, just to keep himself and his staff ready.

He watched as Ellis crossed the room and answered from a wall phone. Ellis walked with a slight limp, the result of a childhood injury that had cut the common peroneal nerve in his right leg. Morris always wondered if the injury had had something to do with Ellis's later decision to become a neurosurgeon. Certainly Ellis had the attitude of a man determined to correct defects, to fix things up. That was what he always said to his patients: "We can fix you up." And he seemed to have more than his share of defects himself — the limp, the premature near-baldness, the weak eyes, and the heavy thick glasses. It produced a vulnerability about him that made his irascibility more tolerable.

Morris stared out the window at the sunlight and the parking lot. Afternoon visiting hours were beginning; relatives were driving into the parking lot, getting out of their cars, glancing up at the high buildings of the hospital. The apprehension was clear in their faces; the hospital was a place people feared.

Morris noticed how many of them had sun tans. It had been a warm, sunny spring in Los Angeles, yet he was still as pale as the white jacket and trousers he wore every day. He had to get outside more often, he told himself. He should start eating lunch outside. He played tennis, of course, but that was usually in the evenings.

Ellis came back, shaking his head. "It's Ethel. She tore out her sutures."

"How did it happen?" Ethel was a juvenile rhesus monkey who had undergone brain surgery the day before. The operation had proceeded flawlessly. And Ethel was unusually docile, as rhesus monkeys went.

"I don't know," Ellis said. "Apparently she worked an arm loose from her restraints. Anyway, she's shrieking and the bone's exposed on one side."

"Did she tear out her wires?"

"I don't know. But I've got to go down and resew her now. Can you handle this?"

"I think so."

"Are you all right with the police?" Ellis said. "I don't think they'll give you any trouble."

"No, I don't think so."

"Just get Benson up to seven as fast as you can," Ellis said. "Then call Ross. I'll be up as soon as possible." He checked his watch. "It'll probably take forty minutes to resew Ethel, if she behaves herself."

"Good luck with her," Morris said.

Ellis looked sour and walked away.

After he had gone, the emergency ward nurse came back.

"What's the matter with him?" she asked.

"Just edgy," Morris said.

"He sure is," the nurse said. She paused and looked out the window, lingering.

Morris watched her with a kind of bemused detachment. He'd spent enough years in the hospital to recognize the subtle signs of status. He had begun as an intern, with no status at all. Most of the nurses knew more medicine than he did, and if they were tired they didn't bother to conceal it. ("I don't think you want to do that, Doctor.") As the years went by, he became a surgical resident, and the nurses became more deferential.

Terminal Man. Copyright © by Michael Crichton. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

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Terminal Man 4 out of 5 based on 1 ratings. 68 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am 13 and most people woould think i am to young to fully appreciate chrichton, but... oh well. I think he is amazing! I practically devoured this book over the past three days; i just couldn't put it down! I love all the fascinating concepts in "Terminal Man" and it is amazing how right Crichton was aboutso many things going on today (like how computers run practically everything). Very compelling book; perfect for someone wanting to read something that stimulates your mind!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Harry Benson is delivered to University Hospital by the police, who will be watching him throughout his stay there. He's charged with assault and battery, and the only reason he's being allowed to keep his surgical date is that the experimental procedure should - if all goes well - correct the cause of his violent seizures. Or so the surgical team and the hospital's administrator believe. But Benson's psychiatrist, Dr. Janet Ross, isn't so sure. Although this taut thriller seems meant to caution us about the dehumanizing perils of the computer age, which was just dawning when Crichton wrote it, I found it most interesting for its depiction of physicians by one of their own. By making Janet Ross female, the author casts her as the 'outsider' through whose eyes we readers can see the other doctors' specialty-related foibles. Had the book been written later, this wouldn't have worked as well; but in a 1972 world it's an excellent device. By the time you reach the last page, you'll know more than you may want to know about the minds of those who take care of you when you're most vulnerable. A terrific read!
Guest More than 1 year ago
The Terminal Man is one of Michael Crichton's crowning achievements. A very short book under 200 pages. I read it in a weeks time. This is the story of a young man (Harry Benson), who suffers from major and very dangerous seizures. Since he has already maimed two people, the police capture him and bring him to University Hospital in LA. There, doctors plan to treat him with a procedure called Stage Three. This is supposed to build up resistance to Benson's seizure attacks. However, not everything goes as planned. I will not tell you anymore. Purchase the book at a low price and read it.
Anonymous 9 months ago
Anonymous 11 months ago
Not one of his best novels but definitely a book that his fans would love!
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Thorne2112 More than 1 year ago
The first 65-75% of this book is a total bore but the last part makes it come gliding back to full circle.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am a huge fan of Crichton and I have just gotten around to reading the Terminal Man. As always Crichton is able to combine scientifical facts into a thrilling novel. I couldn't put it down because of all the twists and turns in this book. A must for Crichton fans!
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Mrwolf More than 1 year ago
Terminal man by Michael Crichton is a creative suspense filled book from page one to the twisting end that will have you flipping the pages over and over again. Harry Benson is a middle aged man with a very big problem. He often has what he calls Blackouts, severe seizures where he loses total control and more recently the blackouts have led to violent breakouts with severe beatings to a man. The violence is increasing and it's only getting worse for Benson. Enter the neurological research team at university hospital. An advanced team of neuro scientists who think they have a solution to Benson's problem. The process is simple and even works at first but only when it is completed do the scientists realize they have made a mistake. Benson soon has a mental breakdown and escapes the hospital. He then goes on a murderous rampage in Los Angeles that seams it can only lead in one way, the termination of Harry Benson. This is just another one of the twisting page turners by the author Michael Crichton. Other great works by Michael Crichton are The Andromeda Strain, The Sphere, Congo, and Jurassic Park. This is a great read for anyone who enjoys suspenseful creative novels. Once the book gets going it does not slow down until the very last page. Crichton supplies creative description throughout the book and the readers mind s always working. This is a perfect book for someone looking for the in depth science type novel also. The book is filled with new advance technology that people at that time era might not even have thought possible. Personally I am one of those people who loves the fast adrenaline filled read. I really like this book because I was unable to put it down while reading. Crichton kept me questioning through the whole book. He also did a careful job setting up the book. Putting the characters in the book and using the technology in the book to add to its affect. However, the book did get a little confusing at times do to the vast amounts of new technology introduced. Other than that this was a very good book.