Max Barry is an Australian who pretended to sell high-end computer systems for Hewlett-Packard while secretly writing his first novel, Syrup. In fact, he still has the laptop he wrote it on because HP forgot to ask for it back, but keep that to yourself. He put an extra X in his name for Syrup because he thought it was a funny joke about marketing and failed to realize everyone would assume he was a pretentious asshole. Jennifer Government, his second novel, was published without any superfluous Xs and sold much better.To help promote his novels, Max wrote the online political game NationStates, which has been played by over half a million people and is currently causing him to drown in e-mail from people who want new features. His third novel, Company, will be published in early 2005. Max was born March 18, 1973, and lives in Melbourne, Australia, where he writes full-time, the advantage being that he can do it while wearing only boxer shorts.
RoboCop meets Nathanael West's A Cool Million in Barry's cautionary satire of the future of bio-augmentation. Dr. Charlie Neumann (get it?), an employee at the bioengineering company Better Future, loses his leg in an industrial accident and has it replaced with a prosthesis. After tinkering with and improving his artificial leg, Charlie loses his remaining good leg, but this time it's no accident; he likes being able to make artificial upgrades to his body. So do his employers, who see the military applications of Charlie's fixation and put him in charge of a project to modify the human body with mil-spec prostheses. When one of the other test subjects, a security guard who has had his arms replaced, goes rogue and kidnaps Lola Shanks, the prosthetics expert who has become the object of Charlie's affection, Charlie sets off to hunt down the monster he has helped to create. Like Mary Shelley's famous creation, this story and character are rather stitched together, and doesn't achieve a life or identity of its own. The result is a pastiche that, like Charlie, stays too wrapped up in its own head to grip the reader on a more emotional level. (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.