weird ideas since 1973

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.


Tue 17

Machine Man launch

Machine Man Machine Man launches tomorrow! Which is also my birthday. Yeah, thanks for noticing. No, no, don’t try to make excuses. It only demeans us both.

Speaking of which: Machine Man! I hope you’re signed up for this spectacular venture into real-time serial fiction. I say “spectacular” because “I wound up writing a 200-page story for eight interested readers” would qualify too, albeit not in the sense I’m hoping for. But either way.

Because the original concept wasn’t self-destructive enough, I decided each Machine Man page will accept your comments. That way, my eight interested readers can not only bankrupt me financially, but also destroy my creative confidence. There’s a very real chance here you may see me totally disintegrate as a human being. And I’ll throw that in for nothing.

Get Machine Man here.

P.S. I have to confess: I’ve cheated a little already. I got ahead of myself and built up a little stack of pages, which are now ready to go. It has been fun. There is something very satisfying about a solid, ninety-word scene. I think I like this medium. It’s like a novel with ADHD.

P.P.S. I got a spam email from “Mal Awesome.” That’s the best name I’ve ever heard. Next time I need a character name, I’m trawling my Junk folder.


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Machine Man subscriber Craig Barron (#1276)

Location: Leeds, UK.
Quote: "“Trust Elizabeth to get upset over a donut.”"
Posted: 3809 days ago

Max, my old chum,

Can you let me know what the format the email’s will be in. As I when I get your little news letter, it will not read on my text only fancy web 2.0 email service.

Daniel DiFranco (#243)

Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
Quote: "Panic Years, a novel, out Spring 2018."
Posted: 3809 days ago

Hey Max,
I want to give you money. I have been harboring guilt for a few years now because I bought "Syrup" and "Jennifer Government" used on Amazon. I'm already subscribed to "Machine Man" and was wondering if I should buy it a few times or just cut you a check. Or, if you would prefer, I can send canned goods since you fear bankruptcy.
Tomorrow will be a good day,
Good day sir.

As for your birthday:
“Well, birthdays are merely symbolic of how another year has gone by and how little we've grown. No matter how desperate we are that someday a better self will emerge, with each flicker of the candles on the cake, we know it's not
to be, that for the rest of our sad, wretched pathetic lives, this is who we are to the bitter end. Inevitably, irrevocably; happy birthday? No such thing.” -Seinfeld

Brittany O. (#1688)

Location: Montana
Quote: "people are kind of overrated "
Posted: 3809 days ago

I signed up... I just hope it went through. I am sure that I got some sort of fancy confirmation e-mail.
And your birthday. I hope it is good. You are the only author that I follow faithfully and I didn't even know it was your birthday. BUT I bet that you do not know mine either so we can call it good.

Machine Man subscriber Barry Mitchell (#1001)

Location: Saukville, Wisconsin
Quote: ""A hamster's like a small camel" - Ben Katz"
Posted: 3809 days ago

Can't wait!

I'll celebrate by severing my leg in solidarity!

(Not really. I kind of like my leg.)

And Happy Birthday from Milwaukee!

Machine Man subscriber InitApp (#3862)

Location: San Francisco
Quote: "I'm of a mind to makes some mookie."
Posted: 3809 days ago

I just wanted to let you know that as of this comment you're up to five interested readers. I also suspect that Dann may be your Mother.... so I'm not sure if she counts.

Looking forward to the first page. Thanks. -s

Machine Man subscriber Toby O (#2900)

Location: Sydney
Quote: "You can't sell your soul to the devil if he's not buying"
Posted: 3809 days ago

If Dann were me and didn't even check Syrup out of the library, but instead went and read the entire book while buttressing a bookcase, how guilty would he then feel? Probably more than I, for I feel none.

Mostly, I'll just be looking for inappropriate use of the word 'Belgium.'

Mark (#2176)

Location: Ohio, USA
Posted: 3809 days ago

only 8?- I'll be checking my email for Machine Man because I know I signed up for it when you made the offer available. Alas- I will be freeloading and not sending you any money. Seems I've just became a "victim" of the economic mess and lost my job 3 weeks ago. HMMMM- perhaps I can write a book? Nope- I don't have anything interesting to say so I'll just stick to reading Max.
Does my internet cord reach clear over to Australia?

Machine Man subscriber Yannick (#3858)

Location: Heist, Belgium
Quote: "he reads things"
Posted: 3809 days ago

I can't wait!

Happy birthday, too, I'll be sending you an e-mail tomorrow. You know, so you can brag about how many you got without lying :3

Machine Man subscriber Alan W (#1427)

Location: Spokane, Washington
Quote: "Corgis are like potato chips"
Posted: 3809 days ago

This is an awesome idea, thanks Max(x)!

I will be interesting to see if this is every adopted by other authors.

Sorry I can't send you canned goods, the post all the way to you would be ecologically irresponsible, oh, and spendy! It will have to be cash...

Richard Thomas (#3828)

Location: Chicago, IL USA
Quote: "What does not kill me makes me stronger."
Posted: 3809 days ago

Awesome Max, congrats, look forward to it.


Machine Man subscriber David (#1456)

Location: Sydney, Australia
Quote: "Why are the pretty ones always insane?"
Posted: 3809 days ago

Mal Awesome and Max Power went into a pub...

Hey yeah, it practically writes itself!

Ted Kern (#3864)

Location: Las Vegas
Quote: "The problem facing the world today is stupidity. I'm not saying to kill the idiots off, just take the safety labels off everything and let the problem fix itself."
Posted: 3809 days ago

Can't wait, hope it's as good as your other three (which I have shelled out my hard earned cash for)

Ben Shaw (#1916)

Posted: 3808 days ago

Looking forward to this, not sure if you're aware but this guy has been doing this serial blog fiction for a while, and is pretty damn good at it too.

Machine Man subscriber Max

Location: Melbourne, Australia
Quote: "I'm my number one fan!"
Posted: 3808 days ago

And he illustrates! Now that's talent. I hadn't heard of Mr. Brown before. He is prolific as all hell. It seems like he does chapter-sized chunks at a time, though, whereas I'm trying a page-a-day serial. Smaller, leaner, slightly different medium.

Wow, it actually looks like that guy writes A CHAPTER A DAY. I can't even read that fast.

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: 3808 days ago


Paul (#104)

Location: Connecticut, USA
Quote: ""Don't fight it son. Confess quickly! If you hold out too long you could jeopardize your credit rating. " --Brazil (1985 movie)"
Posted: 3808 days ago

Happy B-day Max! I can't wait for the story to start arriving to my inbox!

Machine Man subscriber Max

Location: Melbourne, Australia
Quote: "I'm my number one fan!"
Posted: 3808 days ago

Oh dear, Feedburner is having some email issues. I think I will deliver pages from my server instead.

towr (#1914)

Location: Netherlands
Posted: 3808 days ago

Yeah, I was gonna ask what was keeping the mail. But I already read it now anyway. :)

Zwangzug (#3872)

Location: GMT -6
Quote: "It ain't over till it's over"
Posted: 3808 days ago

I've been using spam names as character names for a long time. It works great, especially for last names. The first names are equally as random as the last names anyway.

Brittany O. (#1688)

Location: Montana
Quote: "people are kind of overrated "
Posted: 3808 days ago

well. either way. the pain of realizing that max was not delivered to my mail box. sadness. AND this must be some sort of the plot...

Alexander (#2328)

Location: Maine
Quote: "He who fights monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster, and it you gaze into an abyss for long, the abyss gazes also into you - Friedrich Nietzsche"
Posted: 3807 days ago

I can't wait! Happy Birthday Max.

And "Mal" could easily be short for Malcolm, which is also a badass name.

Machine Man subscriber Christopher (#3809)

Location: Unincorporated Harris County, State of Texas, United States of
Quote: "For Poland!"
Posted: 3807 days ago

First two pages were good!

Happy birthday from the Republic of Texas!!!

Jeffrey (#2286)

Location: Right here
Quote: "Mathematics is a powerful language. Just look at how mathematicians destroyed the housing market."
Posted: 3807 days ago

Happy Birthday Max. lol I like Mal Awesome.

Machine Man subscriber Stygian Emperor (#2947)

Location: the Stygian Empire
Quote: "Flesh is a design flaw."
Posted: 3807 days ago

So... this story it about my absolute favorite subject, I think. My favorite author writing about cyborgs? It doesn't get much better.

Machine Man subscriber Adam (#24)

Location: Morristown, Indiana
Quote: "Why do I blog? Simple, because Max Barry blogs."
Posted: 3804 days ago

Mar. 22, 2009


I'm now almost 21, which means I'm starting to make friends with older people and people who have children. I've been hearing many parenting techniques and advice. As a normal college student would, I analyze and try to decipher these words of wisdom in order to pretend like I know everything.

Recently, I heard a parental idea for 'potty training' your child. Basically, every time your child goes to the bathroom, you give them a piece of chocolate. I wonder if this could have a few unintended consequences.

There was a famous dog experiment where a guy taught his dogs to salivate at the ding of a bell. The way he accomplished this was for a few months he gave the dogs a treat every time he dinged the bell. Then one day, he just stopped. The dogs would salivate expecting a treat every time he dinged the bell.

Don't be surprised if your child comes to you at the age of 25 saying, "I don't know why, but every time I go to the bathroom, I salivate."


Ian (#3882)

Location: Carmel, IN
Posted: 3803 days ago

Page 4 is classic Max Berry... the humor reminded me why I liked Max so much in the first place! haha. Bravo, can't wait to read more!

Ian (#3882)

Location: Carmel, IN
Posted: 3803 days ago

One suggestion, Max...

There isn't a good way for us as fans to comment on particular pages... would it be too much trouble to make it so that each page can be commented upon individually or make a thread that is officially dedicated to comments fans may have as the serial progresses (kind of what this is but it isn't zoned off as such)? are you intentionally avoiding the potential consequences of this (i.e. overzealous fans focusing in on the nitty gritty or being obnoxious)? Just a thought.

Ralf Heinrich (#1441)

Location: Buehl, Germany
Quote: "What does this button do?"
Posted: 3802 days ago

Max, some day you really should try "microwriting" on Twitter. Miss you there anyway. How come?
(I mean how come you are not there, not how come I miss you there. Hr hr.)
- Ralf

Machine Man subscriber Max

Location: Melbourne, Australia
Quote: "I'm my number one fan!"
Posted: 3802 days ago

> would it be too much trouble to make it so that
> each page can be commented upon individually

You can do this! Each page on the web site has a little "Comments" link down the bottom. And you can browse the whole lot here:

I should really make that more obvious.

nick (#3850)

Location: Melbourne
Quote: "Pick me, pick me, I'm ever so smart!"
Posted: 3801 days ago

I am enjoying this product and/or service.

In addition, I hate you for giving it to me for free, and then threatening to take it away from me at some unspecified point in the future.

It makes me nervous just reading it. Is this the last free one? Will I have to pay for the next one? Do I want to? Can I live without this product and/or service?

So many questions Max. So many questions.

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