not dead yet

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.


Thu 23

Hi, it’s me, Max

Max You know when you mean to call a friend, but you don’t get around to it for a while, and suddenly it’s been so long that you can’t just call up and say, “Hi! Anything happening?” You need to have something worth saying; something that justifies you finally ending the absence. You can’t just call up and blog about any old thing; you should blog about something significant, so the friend thinks, “Huh, well, I may have had to wait for a while, but at least that blog was worth it.”

You know?

Sorry about that. What I’ve been doing instead of blogging: mainly, beavering away on my science-fiction TV series proposal. (Which is so cool; I mean, it’s got mentally deranged artificial intelligences and chicks with weird names and everything.) Now that’s done with—for the moment; nothing I write is ever really done with, I have discovered—I sit back and wait for my agent to call up and tell me that the Sci-Fi channel wants 26 episodes and they’re already building the sets and did I want the characters to have really big guns, or ridiculously big guns? That’s basically it.

But that’s beside the point. The point is that I’ve broken the ice; we’re talking again, and now it won’t seem so weird if I blog about, say, a children’s book about a duck that made me very angry. Or at least, no weirder than you’re used to. Right? Okay. We have a deal. So… how have you been? Anything happening?


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Greg Karber (#1568)

Posted: 4990 days ago

Me? Personally, I want really, really ridiculously large guns.

Is that possible?

Machine Man subscriber Katrina (#847)

Location: SF, CA
Quote: "Good sex is like good Bridge: if you don't have a good partner, you'd better have a good hand." -- Mae West"
Posted: 4990 days ago

I want to hear about the duck! And have some pictures of reading to the baby. :D

Or a synopsis of the sci-fi series would be really cool.

Chris (#2309)

Posted: 4990 days ago

I'm going to have to ask for simply really large guns-at least until I break down and get a large-screen HDTV.

And, um, not much new here. Unless getting a new VIP card for a local burlesque club counts?

Tim Ashwood (#595)

Location: Sydney
Posted: 4990 days ago

I want the big guns to belong to a race of hyper-intelligent intergalactic ducks - who hate children's stories by the way - and who are hunting down slightly demented AI robots and chicks with wierd names in a race to bring about the end of the universe.

Brad Johnson (#123)

Location: Greenville, South Carolina
Quote: "The only reason you weren't a crack baby is because they didn't have crack when you were born."
Posted: 4990 days ago

Why did the duck make you angry? How can a duck make you angry? Max, I'm afraid that you have deep-rooted issues that we need to discuss. I expect you in my office a week from tomorrow.

Mincetro (#584)

Quote: "This isn't skiing"
Posted: 4990 days ago

Hey Max, Have you ever asked Wil Anderson if you could appea ron the Glass House? It'd be cool.

Phill Sacre (#1822)

Location: London, UK
Quote: "Computers are like air conditioners. Both stop working, if you open windows."
Posted: 4990 days ago

Ridiculous names are cool. Make sure you have lots of apostrophes in there. Because, you know, aliens have lots of apostrophes in their names. As well as ridiculously big guns. Everybody knows that!

As for me... uh, nothing's been happening. Eat, work, sleep, plan for world domination, same ol' same ol'...

Stephen (#2245)

Location: 33.58 degrees North, 101.94 degrees West.
Quote: "You'd think I'd have something better to do with my time..."
Posted: 4990 days ago

I've been fine, thanks for calling.
As for the have to go with ridiculously big. Normally I'd say make them the size of a TV remote, but Star Trek beat you to it. Sorry.

You should, however, name the guns after Starbucks drinks.

That would be pure evil.

Bjarney (#2272)

Location: Iceland
Quote: ""Try to never do anything phenominally stupid""
Posted: 4990 days ago

I have always thought that ducks are evil

Machine Man subscriber Mapuche (#1184)

Location: Darwin, Australia
Quote: "Inconceivable!"
Posted: 4990 days ago

It's the absence of echo that does it. Every damn time!

*quack* *_*

However, now that you have called, there's something I've been meaning to ask you...


Jonah (#1462)

Location: Morristown, Indiana
Quote: "That little story your writing... with the developing plot... and the antagonist..."
Posted: 4990 days ago

How am I? How nice of you to ask.

I'm ecstatic. I'm awaiting acceptance to the college of my dreams, and just found out yesterday that if I do go, I'll have free housing for four years.

How are you? Are the wife and child okay? Good.

thewylddream (#1191)

Location: Montana USA
Quote: ""Always forgive your enemies -- Nothing annoys them so much." ~Oscar Wilde~"
Posted: 4990 days ago

I am guessing the duck was really a swan. Swans piss me off. Well, maybe not all swans. But the swans I know tend to attack, and they are really _really_ big birds. Pretty, but agressive.

Also I want her weird name to be "Standard Antagonist." In homage to Neil. Is that wrong?

Machine Man subscriber Devin (#100)

Location: Los Angeles, CA
Quote: ""Toast sweat! It's the scourge of our time!""
Posted: 4990 days ago

Glad to hear about your TV series, that's always good news! As far as my life, I've been quite busy with school. We start our 16mm film project next month. Also, as of tomorrow I will officially only have 6 more months of college left which is kind of exciting. Maybe I'll be out in time to get a job on your TV show!

Anyways, keep up the good work and best wishes to you, Jen, and Fin!

Daniel Rose (#1367)

Location: Sydney, Australia
Posted: 4990 days ago


Can you do a book tour of Australia soon because you were born in Australia and I want to meet you so I can write that in my log book. Also, I genuinely want to meet you.

I agree with that Glasshouse thing with Wil Anderson. They've had some crap guests lately, and I've found myself not watching them.

What else? Oh yes, my life has been good. Shame the Commonwealth Games are being dominated by Australians. Wait, no it isn't. It's the only games we can win.

Oh yeah, according to Dr Karl (it's an Australian thing), duck's quacks do have an echo. I think that was a reference to Leunig (another Australian thing).


John Doe (#797)

Location: Live from Omicron Persei 8
Quote: "You're just jealous because the little voices only talk to me."
Posted: 4990 days ago

Futurama. You *need* to watch some Futurama episodes before writing sci-fi. Not an episode goes by without me bursting into uncontrollable laughter.

Drunkendove (#2064)

Location: Neither here nor there.
Quote: "An altogether admirable attempt at alliteration, and although ample accidental additions are assured, all are accessory."
Posted: 4990 days ago

Ducks are maddening creatures alright. Not so much as sloths or humans, but they're right up there in the top five.

Zoomy (#1546)

Location: Outside Glasgow
Posted: 4990 days ago

Let's hear about the duck then.

Picto (#64)

Location: United Kingdom
Quote: "Who is more foolish, the child afraid of the dark or the man afraid of the light? - Maurice Freehill"
Posted: 4990 days ago

I was trying to find a witty and odd fact about ducks but the only thing I can find is that stupid one about a duck's quack doesn't echo.

Which, by the way, isn't true, it's just such a weak echo that our ears don't pick it up. All sound vibrates and bounces off the surroundings in waves.

FatRat (#1554)

Location: England
Quote: "Argh."
Posted: 4990 days ago

I've almost finished Company! And even better news, I managed to get my mum to read Syrup last week, and now I've got her started on Jennifer Government! If you knew my mum, you'd understand what a grand achievement this is.

Thanks for keeping us hungry dogs updated with your goings-on. Hehe.

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: 4990 days ago

When you're talking about chicks with weird names... what exactly do you mean? Are you thinking like "Bob" or "George"? Or more like "Kitchen Appliance" and "Exhaust Fumes" (which, by the way, would be sexistic because it downgrades women by comparing them to objects/masses of floating particles). How about "Chick With Weird Name"?

Otherwise, I'm fine, thanks. Just in the middle of reading Company, and loving it, as I expected. My girlfriend liked Syrup much better, though, but you'll have to ask her yourself about it. I also finished my internship at the psychology division of a local prison (didn't I mention that? weird. when was the last time you called?) and now I have some really strange stories to tell at parties, which is always a good thing. So if you want my advice on how to murder your wife, here it is: Don't. Prisons tend to be hostile and uncomfortable environments for their inhabitants, even in liberal Germany. But if you ever do get locked up (who knows how mighty Coke and Nike are gonna get? i guess you already got em angry) and feel the need to talk to a psychologist - call me.
Only they wouldn't let you. Cause you'd be in prison. And it'd be a long-distance call. Longest possible distance, to be precise.

Look at me, all rambling. So what about you? Got any news from the Syrup-movie-guys yet? Did you hear from Clooney or Soderberg again?

Machine Man subscriber Bushra (#36)

Location: Fremont, California
Quote: ""
Posted: 4990 days ago

Hi Max! Nice of you to drop a line. I'm fine. I almost single handedly lost a lucrative project at work, but then it was ok. Oh, and my sister had a baby boy, so now I'm an aunt (I'm trying to go for 'cool aunt' status). Other that that. . . ummmmm. . . i think that's it. Thanks for asking!

Oh! And I'm trying to cut down on coffee.

I think big guns are better than ridiculously big guns. You don't want people to watch and go "That's ridiculous!"

Sci fi Channel is pretty cool, though. People are trying to get me to watch Battlestar Gallactica but I already watch too much tv as it is.

*whew*, I'm glad we're talking again Max. It was kinda awkward there for a while.

Btw, The Economist gave Company a good review. Although, they sort of spoiled it and acknowledged that they were giving away the twist. Good thing I had already read it.

Jason (#1193)

Location: Indianapolis, IN
Quote: "The bulwark of the suggestion box has failed."
Posted: 4989 days ago

Now that just sounds badass! Good luck! I'll send positive mojo to you and to Sci-Fi to get this thing going. Just what I need - another show to set up in Tivo on the Sci-Fi channel. :)

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: 4989 days ago

Hey Max, I just finished reading Company, and I must say, bravo! I loved it, just like the other two. And I must say, being the scifi fan that I am, I can't wait you have your series out. You should watch Firefly, it's awsome and will give you lots of inspiration (is that spelt right? dang i suck at spelling).

good luck with it!

Tony Quin (#1310)

Location: Plymouth -urgh
Quote: "Yoga is NAILS"
Posted: 4989 days ago

Aye what duck?

Genevieve SaDiablo (#2035)

Location: USA
Quote: "BAM! Now I have a SPICY ROCK!"
Posted: 4989 days ago

Wow. I'm glad you called, because I was about to phone up and give you a good bawling-out for being incommunicado.

I vote for guns so large that the gun and the actor needs must be on seperate screens. (You know, shot opens on gun, close-up pan down barrel to actor's face. After that, only the stock/butt/handgrip is all you see of the gun in a shot with the actor. My, that would be super-ridiculous!)

P.S. Excellent job on Company! Loved it lots! I'm now waiting for my SO to finish it so we can have a gushingly good book-talk about it. Unfortunately, it's the only book of yours that our local bookstores carry. =( Must. Special. ORDER! Grr!

James (#2227)

Location: VA
Quote: "My, my ,my."
Posted: 4989 days ago

Doing just fine, Max. Good to hear from you.

Grace (#1225)

Location: Melbourne aka The Cliffs of Insanity
Quote: "I refuse to have a battle of wits with someone who is unarmed."
Posted: 4989 days ago

Definitely watch Firefly. It deserved a better chance than it got. But you'd know about that.
And although your blog wasn't ground-breaking all is forgiven! We just wanna hear the sound of your voice...or text...

Rod McBride (#688)

Location: Gardner, KS
Quote: ""
Posted: 4989 days ago

If I had to have something to say every time I blogged, I'd be on my third post...

USFTiburon (#1686)

Location: New Jersey
Quote: "The great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie -- deliberate, contrived and dishonest, but the myth- persistent, persuasive, and unrealistic. Belief in myths allows the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought. - JFK"
Posted: 4989 days ago

Things. They happen in some indeterminate order. They're usually not terribly important. Besides, it's your blog, Max, and your life is probably more exciting than many of ours.

Maureen Ryan (#2265)

Location: East Cleveland, OH
Quote: "Truth is just an excuse for a lack of imagination"
Posted: 4989 days ago

Normal stuff going on here in Cleveland. We're in the middle of our 30th International Film Festival. I've seen three so far and might not get to many before the end of the weekend.

I'm working the full time job, and trying to get my artwork done while at home. I'm kind of on a strict, self-imposed, arbitrary deadline (but I would really ream myself if I ddn't make it).

I did see on Good Morning, America this morning about how the HMO, Kaiser Permenente, has been dumping homeless patients on the street. Like, paying a cab to take them and dump them on skid row, still in a patient's gown, without even shoes. Kaiser's response? "It's not part of our best practices." Just sounded like something Max Barry novels are made of (though there aren't HMOs in Australia, right?). Sad to see that it's reality.


Chris McBride (#1977)

Location: Belfast, N.Ireland
Quote: "Plagiarism saves thinking time"
Posted: 4989 days ago

I'm fine thank you. I imported your book Company after growing tired waiting for a UK print. In order to avoid P&P costs I coupled it up with Se7en on DVD.
I also removed a book from my shelf on how to improve my memory and replaced it with Syrup. What does that say about my personality (or my shelf?)

Donnie (#1282)

Location: Etobicoke, close to where the passenger pigeons used to migrate
Quote: "Mockery is the highest form of flattery."
Posted: 4989 days ago

Hi Max,

When I saw the headline of your email, I originally thought someone might have broken into your account and used it to send spam. I'm glad that isn't the case and things are still going well for you.

My wife and I brought our baby home from the hospital about a month ago (He was due March 15 but born Jan 16, I'm going to be shameless and put a link to the blog I made for him here, please feel free to remove it if you want <a href="">Joe Brennus</a>). Its awesome being parents and just thought I'd share that with you. I've enjoyed hearing about your journey to parenthood through the blog.

He's our first, so even though I'm in Canada, with all of the globalization going on we are in the same target market for the multinational corporations. (You know at every stage of life they have something to sell you, having kids mean more money for them). So if you ever need an ally...

Machine Man subscriber Brad Mendenhall (#23)

Location: Shrewsbury, Pa
Quote: "Max Barry? I thought I this was the Dave Barry Website! You mean he doesn't swear he's not making this up? (Shameless Plug - check out my website"
Posted: 4989 days ago

Tell ya what, if you wanna see an evil duck, you should check out


Machine Man subscriber Bushra (#36)

Location: Fremont, California
Quote: ""
Posted: 4989 days ago

Check out Coke's website for their new drink, Blak - Coke with coffee. Make sure you have the sound on:

I think Coke is targeting the same group as Fukk with this drink. Can't wait.

talk less. say more. (#1942)

Location: tampa, florida
Quote: "talk less. say more."
Posted: 4988 days ago

sometimes ducks make me angry too, max.

talk less. say more. (#1942)

Location: tampa, florida
Quote: "talk less. say more."
Posted: 4988 days ago

whoooaaa Bushra! coca cola blak is craaazy!

Christy (#2041)

Location: California
Posted: 4988 days ago

Max, if you create a show for the Sci-Fi Channel, it will then become the Ultimately Most Awesomely Extraordinarily Cool channel that has ever happened to television. I can't wait.

Things are fine with me; thanks for asking.

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