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.


Fri 04

The Joy of Text

Max (Language warning: Today’s blog contains profanity. And how! There’s tons of it. Not from me; I’m quoting someone else. But if you prefer your computer screens unsullied, you probably don’t want to scroll any further down. Or, as another tactic, you could squint a little and tilt your head to the left. Quotes are italicized, you see; so you might not be able to quite make out the words. Of course, you won’t make any sense of the blog, either. And you’ll look kind of stupid. But it’s up to you. I’m just providing you with sufficient information to make an informed choice.)

Today I stumbled upon some guy’s list of his favorite blogs. All right, when I say “stumbled upon,” I mean I heard about Google Blog Search, and immediately typed in the subject I care about most, i.e. me. Anyway, my site is on this list—which is not a ringing endorsement so much as the anthropic principle in action. But here’s what he said:

Max Barry. Author of several really good books. Seems to be one of the few authors who really maintains a blog just for the joy of occasional communication instead of promoting an agenda.

This pleased me very much. I do love that communication, and while I can’t claim to be agenda-free—not with this many arch-enemies—I’m very happy that, to one guy at least, that’s not what I’m here for.

A lot of my e-mail is indeed a joy. A lot is spam for Viagra and hot stock picks, too, but I get more warm, funny, and fawning e-mail than anyone really has a right to. As an example, here’s one I received a couple of weeks ago. I wasn’t going to post it, because whenever I do that quite a few people e-mail me in a similar vein, presumably hoping I’ll post theirs, too. And in this case, that would be scary. But in many ways it represents everything that’s great fun about what I get to do here.

From Kale:


Hey Maxeroooooney, ever read Everyone in Silico? Or Torture the Artist?

P.S. I want to marry Six…Is there anyway I can OFFICIALLY marry a fictious character? Because if so…Im marrying that woman.

I don’t usually reply to my email (which is terrible, I know), but I banged out a quick response to this one:

Yes, no, and if you try that, I’m calling the cops.


Then Kale responded:


Your books, Mr.Barry, are incredible. I weep everytime I think on them. When bystanders at the arcade I work at ask me whats wrong, I just cry harder…FUCKING BEAUTIFUL…BRILLAINT…NO MORE WORDS. …FUCK, I would love to meet and help ANY of your characters in WHATEVER way they needed. Do me a favor…and im completely serious… PLEASE… PLEASEPLEASEPLEASEPLEASEPLEASE… name a character Kale. NAME A CHARACTER KALE. KALE…It’s a rare name! It’s the name of a vegetable. It’s hawain…it mean’s strong man. WADDAYASAY??? Just…ANY character at all!!!!! I know the use of “!!!” and “…” can be annoying, but that;s just where im at in this point of my life. Lots’a passion. Im a 21 year old man. I love your books. I love the show Home Movies. I get depressed thinking about life. I have so many questions. I enjoy Jerri Blank and The UCB. I love Lobo. They should make him read Syrup when they UNCANCELL the series. Front cover. I like OINK. Ever read that? JTHM was, at one point, the only thing i ever cared about.

I’ve spilled my gut’s and I still have’nt said anything I wanted to you…the man who’se stories make me happy. THANK YOU. THANK YOU, THANK YOU THANK YOU, THANK YOU…

How awesome is that? I read something like that, I feel like a superhero. Thanks, Kale. And to all of you who write to me or post on this site. I mean, I don’t want to get too mushy here, but—aw, hell. Come here. Yeah, that’s it. Thanks, guys.


This is where site members post comments. If you're not a member, you can join here. There are all kinds of benefits, including moral superiority!

Machine Man subscriber Jarrad (#837)

Location: Hobart
Posted: 4856 days ago


spose it's nice that even wacko cyber-stalkers can make people feel good too

Phill Sacre (#1822)

Location: London, UK
Quote: "Computers are like air conditioners. Both stop working, if you open windows."
Posted: 4856 days ago

I suppose when you have "wacko cyber-stalkers" you know you've made it?!

I think it's time for a group hug!

Or, some many back-slapping if you'd prefer. Keep it above the waist though; I no longer trust Max's readership...

Chris (#816)

Location: Quebec, Canada
Posted: 4856 days ago

So are you going to name a character Kale?

Jeffrey (#2286)

Location: Right here
Quote: "Mathematics is a powerful language. Just look at how mathematicians destroyed the housing market."
Posted: 4856 days ago

lol @ Phill. Well I can't say I'm really all that touched by the "OMG he spoke to me" email but that's cool that you have someone that obsessed. Well cool until he's breathing heavily outside your front door with a knife in his hand. Then I'd say you have a problem. I'm just surprised he likes people like me. I mean for Christ's sake, my quote is "I Love Paste."

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: 4856 days ago

Anytime Mrs. Barry acts up, just fly in Kale to Australia to remind her how great you are :)

Monkeywright (#1732)

Location: Los Angeles, Californi-YARGH!
Quote: ""China is Here?" I don't even know what the hell that means! - PS - visit scenic"
Posted: 4856 days ago

I think Max posted this as future evidence in the "stalker fan assaults Aussie author with Hawaiian fruit when author refuses to grant his fictional character's hand in marriage" trial.

I mean, please. This guy wants to marry Six? He's INSANE.
Everyone knows Six, Scat and I are already involved... that's what the eyeball on my Jennifer Government book tells me...
(cue crazy music)

Jak (#2464)

Quote: "The Straight-Jacket makes it hard to type."
Posted: 4856 days ago

I keep imagining this guy as "tweek" from south park.

David (#1848)

Location: Texas
Quote: "Delighted!"
Posted: 4856 days ago

Or the rocker from Talk Radio.

Max is too polite to mention that I have sent him an email which is hauntingly similar to Kale's. I hope I spelled things more...appropriately. Something about Max brings out the gush. (Um, there is probably a less homo-erotic way to have phrased that, but I had already committed to the word "gush", so there you go. Sorry, Max, I love you, I just don't LOVE-love you).

Kale is a great name. I can see a team, headed by Kale, and rounded out with Parsley and Scallion. They are the folks that make sure child support is taken out of your check. (Not sure if a good garnish joke will translate into a different's hoping).

Seriously, though, you are deserving of all praise, Max.

Doyler (#2564)

Location: Belfast, Northern Ireland
Quote: "Because its always fun to hear something stupid"
Posted: 4855 days ago

the guy sounds more like mr garrison from south park...

Kris (#2579)

Location: Iceland
Posted: 4855 days ago

I registered only to be able to say the following:

Take one for your entire fanbase, Max. If your next book doesn't have a character named KALE, I'll be very, very sad!

I'm looking forward to reading the adventures of Kale. Which is a great character name, by the way.

Tim Ashwood (#595)

Location: Sydney
Posted: 4855 days ago

There is a better word than homoerotic, and that is...squee!
Though more acurately aimed at fan-grrl over-enthusiasm, it still works for a guy telling another guy...OMG! Squee!!!

Yubi Shines (#1664)

Location: Canada
Posted: 4855 days ago


I'm scared.

Machine Man subscriber Max

Location: Melbourne, Australia
Quote: "I'm my number one fan!"
Posted: 4855 days ago

I've never liked the idea of naming characters after real people. Even if it's just an in-joke that most people won't notice. In fact, especially then. I don't want people reading one of my novels and getting pulled out of the story to think, "Ahh, that's the character he named after that guy from his web site."

And what about the poor character? Existing as some kind of tribute to someone else. It just seems wrong.

I'll happily rip off a real-life name if it seems appropriate for a character. I've done that before. But to shoe-horn one in... nah. Sorry, Kale.

Narain (#824)

Location: Los Angeles, right between civilization and a desert
Quote: "NI!"
Posted: 4855 days ago

Oh no, you've got to! Anywhere where you have some whiny sycophant, or even better, an emo/depressed teenager who commits suicide, name him (or her!) kale.

In-jokes are totally great, in my not very humble at all opinion. They reward the long time fan/stalker for their years of following everything you write. Or at the very least put something in your next book about vaseline and someone's freakish nuts.

Machine Man subscriber David (#1456)

Location: Sydney, Australia
Quote: "Why are the pretty ones always insane?"
Posted: 4855 days ago

Wow. Scary guy. Do you think Paris Hilton gets messages like that? Hmm, she probably writes messages like that...

John Reynolds (#2534)

Location: New York, USA
Posted: 4855 days ago

I really needed that hug. Thank you.

I just finished Company so now I've read all three of your books and they were all fantastic, I can't wait for the next one. In fact, I might just sit here and refresh your page until I see an update about a new book. Eh, maybe not, I'm a little hungry and I know that will slacken my refreshing abilities.

And to Kale: Why would you want to break up Scat and 6 after reading a whole book hopeing they will get together. I would be heart broken to pick up a tabloid and see that they've split because she ran off with Kale. I would probably cry, and then Max would have to give me another hug.

Kalle (#1278)

Quote: "Sex is herital. If your parents never had it, chanses are you'll never have it either."
Posted: 4853 days ago

Never, EVER, crash your car on Hawaii, Max. That's all I'm saying. I would be very afraid of getting "rescued" if I was you.

Machine Man subscriber Jarrad (#837)

Location: Hobart
Posted: 4853 days ago


Colleen Gilmore (#2562)

Location: Los Angeles
Quote: ""It's only funny until someone gets hurt. Then it's hilarious""
Posted: 4851 days ago

Wack jobs. Living in LA I have discovered the magnitism that must draw them all to this one central location.

On a side note, I gushed wonderful remarks about Syrup and Jennifer Government (as well as potential praise for Company, as I was waiting for my delivery. Currently I am hiding it in my bag and trying to read it at work, just waiting for time to click by so I can continue reading on the subway) to a screenwriter friend (of a friend, is that too complicated?). I felt very informed and self-important while trying to describe the allure of your writing. He promptly went out to buy the book, even after I turned down his offer of dinner/movie. :) I must have been convincing, eh? You're awesome.

Col Counsell (#1836)

Location: Australia
Quote: "It takes a lot of thought - and effort - and downright determinaton to be agreeable (Ray Everson)"
Posted: 4630 days ago

Today, the 18th March my friends is the 34th birthday of my stepson Max. It is also that one day in the year when I contemplate the many wonderful skills and attributes of our favourite author. His incredible wit and creative genius, his high intellect and broad range of knowledge combined with a wonderful sense of goodwill towards his fellow travellers in this dimension. Even his physical presence and build are to be admired.
Today also happens to be the day when I have my annual visit to the dark side as I ask myself the question: How is it that Max, at 34 years of age knows more and has more creative genius than I do at the age of 62? These thoughts are, or should I say were the source of much consternation for me - until Friday that is.
You see, on Friday my wife (Max's mother) brought home a birthday card outlining so many of Max's fine attributes in some detail. My heart sank as it awakened me to the looming depression then suddenly the words sunk in. "Anyone who is born on the EIGHTEENTH of the month has these attributes." It follows therefore that anyone who is born on another day, say the 3rd (such as me) would not be so endowed. The penny dropped - this is pure luck - Max was born lucky - I wasn't - it all made sense. He drew the lucky number and all the benefits. I, on the other hand drew the unlucky number which was in turn also drawn - out of a barrel by the Government in 1966 thus committing me to two year's National Service with the Army and placement at the gateway of the hell that was the Vietnam War.
So, my friends, the lesson to be learned from this experience is not to be too despondent when in the company of genius or higher achievers as it is all just pure luck. We arrive with a certain set of marbles and no matter how hard we play the game it is unlikely that we will add to our collection unless we were born on the 18th of course.

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