the x is for xtreme

Max Barry wrote the novels Syrup, Jennifer Government, Company, Machine Man, and Lexicon. He also created the game NationStates and once found a sock full of pennies.


Wed 25

A Shade Less Perfect

Max I’ve been contacting all my friends with babies, pumping them for information on whether those three-wheeler strollers are really all they’re cracked up to be, and do you want a bassinet that also converts into a car seat or is it fine to have those things separate, and surely, surely, when the baby book says they go to the toilet 10 times a day, that has to be some kind of misprint, right?

In the midst of all this, I had an idea for a short story. So I wrote it. If you’re interested, here it is. It’s 3,000 words long.

Thanks so much for all the congratulations and well wishes! You guys rock.


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Jamie (#111)

Location: Auckland
Quote: "Anyone still spelling "internet" with a capital "I" is probably struggling with the complexities of their new-fangled electric typewriter."
Posted: 5201 days ago

Great story Max

Adam A. (#256)

Location: Phoenix, Arizona
Quote: "Think of how stupid the average person is, and realize half of them are stupider than that." -George Carlin"
Posted: 5201 days ago

We had a carrier that had a detachable base that you belted into the car, which was great 'cause you can just lift the tyke right out of the car without waking him/her/it. The carrier just snapped into the base. Never tried the 3 wheeler, but I would think there would be high risk of tippage. And 10 times a day? May you be so lucky.
And yeah, great story.

Rob2Kx (#1125)

Location: Canada
Quote: "Anything for laughs even if it kills you"
Posted: 5201 days ago


nyuk nyuk nyuk.
Oh Barry, you wierd little man.

Machine Man subscriber Dave (#29)

Location: Seattle
Posted: 5201 days ago

Great story - I laughed. (Hopefully that's what you were going for, and trust me - it wasn't a laughing /at/.)

the-tine (#472)

Location: Pennsylvania, USA
Quote: "Coming soon to a planet near you."
Posted: 5201 days ago

That story was awesome. I'm putting a link to it on my blog. I hope you don't mind.

Machine Man subscriber Lucy (#664)

Location: Blue Mountains
Posted: 5201 days ago

I tend to watch all the baby-related stuff in the supermarket I work in, since my sister had her baby.. so things I tend to notice with strollers is that most people seem to have a hard time negotiating narrow areas with the 3-wheelers, and that while those big strollers are great for holding all kinds of stuff, they're also hellish to get through the checkout when their big wheels get caught on stuff.
Aim for something narrower than a trolley and you're cool. Just something to think of, seems like most people didn't think of how to cope with shopping beforehand.

Advice from a checkout chick, crazy. Anyway, congrats!

Sketch (#30)

Location: In the tree right outside your window
Quote: "Vote Sketch for Fascist God 2005"
Posted: 5201 days ago

Freakin' hilarious, I almost pissed myself laughing.

Machine Man subscriber Barry Mitchell (#1001)

Location: Saukville, Wisconsin
Quote: ""A hamster's like a small camel" - Ben Katz"
Posted: 5201 days ago

Great story!

I have a ten month old.

*checks to see if the moon is full*

Tak (#995)

Location: San Jose, CA
Quote: "benevolent hacker"
Posted: 5201 days ago

I liked it too. I was expecting the first twist, but not the second. er, hopefully no one is reading the comments first. :o

Laura (#1040)

Posted: 5201 days ago

Man, that was nice.

Ari (#1107)

Location: somewhere around California
Quote: "Can I be a random member of the moment?"
Posted: 5201 days ago

Oh, that was awesome! I loved the ending!

Kenneth Lim (#1335)

Location: Singapore
Quote: "quote? argh... who would care anyway."
Posted: 5201 days ago

Oh man! The story's whacked !

Cool twist at the end. Just cool.

Haaa... you should consider writting this story out in full man. This can really sell.

Melissa (#888)

Location: WI
Quote: "When you can't run anymore, you crawl, and when you can't do that, you find someone to carry you."
Posted: 5201 days ago

I love your story! Great twist at the end. I definetly can't wait till company comes out now!

And congradualations again for the baby!

Stuart Lamble (#1321)

Location: Melbourne, Australia
Quote: "Growing old is mandatory. Growing up is optional."
Posted: 5201 days ago

Damnit, Max! Don't *DO* that to me! Now I have my co-workers wondering when I'm going to come back up for air ...

John Morris (#346)

Location: Penn Valley
Quote: "to be or not to be"
Posted: 5201 days ago

lol! Thanks Max, your always great to read, when I'm taking a break from writting papers.

Erin (#1296)

Location: Chandler AZ
Posted: 5200 days ago

Stay away from the three-wheeled "jogging" stroller - you can't steer the thing worth a damn and it doesn't fold up! It's a major PITA.

Definitely look into the stroller with detachable base/car seat like Adam said.

Look into cloth diapering, too! It's really scary, the chemicals that are in disposable diapers.

Nosy (but well meant) advice aside, congrats! Loved the story, too. I could definitely sympathize. :)

JacksSmirkingRevenge (#1324)

Location: That place where Billy Elliot was comitted, England
Quote: "What can the harvest hope for if not for the care of the reaper man?"
Posted: 5200 days ago

Another genius exploration in to the hillarius horrors of modern suburbia. Great Story! We want Company dammit!

thewylddream (#1191)

Location: Montana USA
Quote: ""Always forgive your enemies -- Nothing annoys them so much." ~Oscar Wilde~"
Posted: 5200 days ago

As to car seats... I don't know what the shopping cart story is in Aus. but in the US Babby Carriers can be a real pain in the butt, unless you get one that can be a car seat, has a stroller conversion and can sort of slide onto the shopping cart by having the child seat bar slide into it. (I know this sounds odd.)The click and carry base is very important because it is a huge pain to try to get the baby properly strapped down in the car every time you leave, and reaching over the sleeping babby to snap the seat belt is sometimes very diffucult in a small vehicle. With the click and carry base it is much simpler because the child just "snaps" into the prestrapped base.

I know you didn't ask for that advice from me, but hey... it is still good advice.

And the story was EXCELLENT. I am forwarding it to all my friends.

Dawn (#270)

Location: Atlanta, GA, USA
Quote: "It's too bad I don't have something witty to write here..."
Posted: 5200 days ago

Great story! Really made my very early morning more enjoyable

Mats (#1057)

Location: Turku, Finland, Europe, Earth
Quote: ""The optimist thinks this is the best of all possible worlds, and the pessimist knows it." James Branch Cabell via Robert Oppenheimer"
Posted: 5200 days ago

A little scared of having a baby, are we?
Don't worry, it will (probably) be allright.
And surprisingly many babies learn surprisingly early to sleep through the night.

Alexander (#1263)

Location: Sweden
Quote: "Russell was not alone in underestimating chickens. After conducting an early experiment in refrigeration by stuffing a hen with snow, Sir Francis Bacon contracted a chill and died in 1626."
Posted: 5200 days ago

Great story! :D

Jason (#1193)

Location: Indianapolis, IN
Quote: "The bulwark of the suggestion box has failed."
Posted: 5200 days ago

Most excellent story.

Fionut (#467)

Location: London, England
Quote: "Always remember you're unique, just like everyone else."
Posted: 5200 days ago

Fantastic tale! I need more :P
By the way mine both didn't sleep all through the night till almost a year...

Machine Man subscriber Adam (#24)

Location: Morristown, Indiana
Quote: "Why do I blog? Simple, because Max Barry blogs."
Posted: 5200 days ago

Thur. 26 May 2005


I've been thinking that blogging is getting a little old and unfulfilling. I just got out of school, and I have a ton of free time. I haven't figured out what it will be about yet, but I am going to start writing it on here. It will probably be very boring and uninteresting, but I guess that is better than my blogging.

I have some friends who just had a baby, and as I read the story I realized that the exact same thing happened to their baby. It's 100% true.

Really, it is...

Why don't you believe me?...

My story my be almost half as good as that one.

Stay blog, the saga begins...
There will be many sequels to which I can cash in on...


shabooty (#637)

Location: D.C./V.A/M.D.
Quote: "I will shake your foundation. I will shake the f**cking rafters. Nobody'll be the same -Danny Bonaduce ....& go visit my blog @:"
Posted: 5200 days ago

that was cute...

Machine Man subscriber Julie Totsch (#1341)

Location: Racine, WI
Quote: ""The world is full of willing people, some willing to work, the rest willing to let them." - Robert Frost"
Posted: 5200 days ago

That was awesome -- what a twisted idea!

Queen Eve (#460)

Location: Dimensions at
Quote: "Sanity is a gift; given at birth, lessened by maturity, and gone from us by the age of reason. --Kestral Lei"
Posted: 5200 days ago

*cackles like a madwoman*

Now thats funny, Max. Great story!.

javier (#1344)

Location: Long Beach, CA, USA
Posted: 5199 days ago

really, you made me spew beer out my nose and mouth...nice!

Jjuulliiaann (#1111)

Location: New York
Quote: "Religion is the Opium of the People --Karl Marx"
Posted: 5199 days ago

Wow, nice story. I love the ending. Amazing.

Dan (#579)

Location: Shanghai, China
Quote: ""Scio me nihil scire.""
Posted: 5199 days ago

Great story, as usual, but the concept is kind of scary. Good luck with the baby

Peter N.Bernath (#1041)

Location: Stockholm - Sweden
Quote: "Errr... Is that a tree growing out of your head? - Fallout 2"
Posted: 5198 days ago

Love it... Just passed it around the office, and when heading for the loo i see everyone reading... Then coming to me to tell me how good a story it is, it's great Max, keep it up.

Will there be a "follow up", or are you just going to release Company sooner? I mean you can't just let us wait for too long, we might read some books by other authors, and you wouldn't want that, now would you?

Clarence (#1348)

Location: latitude 42.36 / longitude -71.05
Quote: "..I know the TRUTH and I don't have to be what you want Me to BE. -Muhammed Ali"
Posted: 5198 days ago

That was a solid short, Max. Big fan. Looking forward to more shorts in the future!

Yenzo (#829)

Location: Secret underwater pyramid base in the Pacific
Quote: "In order to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first create the universe (Carl Sagan)"
Posted: 5197 days ago

I loved the story. I have a 6-month-old niece that I haven't seen yet, but my sister keeps sending me pictures, so your story didn't bother me too much. She doesn't look too hairy either.

Any other possible surprises that my sister and brother-in-law might tell me? Ever written any stories about witches?

Soigacas (#1354)

Location: UK
Quote: "Someday this war's gonna end"
Posted: 5195 days ago

Great story. I don't think anyone saw that one coming!

Machine Man subscriber M.I.Minter (#347)

Location: Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA
Quote: "When I read about the evils of drinking, I gave up reading."
Posted: 5195 days ago

well, aren't you clever.

This was like the free tase, and now we have to pay for the next sample of writing. And we pay with time.

Hey, here's an idea, try to sell this to a magazine. Get it printed in playboy or Gear or Parent Magazine. Make some money. Buy all the three wheeled strollers you want. Get one with a jet pack. Go to baby showers and read your story. Watch people pass out. Get on late night talk shows. fight Chuck in a cage match. Beat his ass. Rule the world.
Or just be content with a blog that people realy realy like.



Ruth (#288)

Location: Bath, United Kingdom
Quote: "Only the insane have strength enough to prosper. Only those who prosper may truly judge what is sane."
Posted: 5195 days ago


Great story,'s a hint for everyone...never allow your friends to read it after midnight, the only person awake in the house with only a small lamp providing light. Which still would of been ok if the spooky clock noises from Pink Floyd's "Time" hadn't started the *very moment* he said the baby couldn't be seen in the mirror.

I'm now spooked! Silly I know...still, great story, and I loved the second twist :)

Machine Man subscriber Dieter Lunn (#1363)

Location: Winnipeg, MB, Canada
Posted: 5191 days ago

That going to the bathroom ten times a day actually isn't that far off. I know my neice sometimes goes through 2 or more diapers in a single changing (She is 1 month old). Well congratulations. Hope you have fun. Love the books.

Machine Man subscriber Dieter Lunn (#1363)

Location: Winnipeg, MB, Canada
Posted: 5191 days ago

Awesome short story. Loved the ending.

Ams_S.o.E. (#1425)

Location: Naptown
Quote: ""I'm dancing for you Kyle(?)" if someone can name the actor who said it and which movie its from (and possibly correct the quote) ill give them monies"
Posted: 5170 days ago

it was good. i have recently become a member of NS and have been lookin thru the threads and decided "wut the hell!" and checked out ur book stuff. your work is entertaining. its a great break from the stuff i just red in school (seriously, i read wuthering heights, jude the obscure, heart of darkness, and the bell jar in a 3 month period. i think my english teacher secretly wants us to commit suicide..... he said he was against "coddling" us so he will never give us positive feedback on our work. the horrible thing is he is moving to junior and senior x eng so i might have him for 2 more years. *shudder*) u could make a book of short stories called STET...(i kno im combining posts :P)u could have and introduction that is all about ur struggle against editors

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