MaxBarry.com
legionnaires' disease-free since 1990

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.

Blog

Thu 27
Oct
2011

Subtextual

Machine Man Now there’s this app, Subtext, that lets you read books and share your comments about them in real-time with other people reading the same book. Little speech bubbles in the margins pop up: you tap them, you get to read what other people are saying about a particular plot twist, or character death, or whatever.

In some cases, the author has gone through and made a bunch of those comments him or herself, and these read a little like a DVD commentary track.

I mention this because I’m one of those authors: Machine Man is one of their launch titles. So, if, you know, you feel I’ve been too secretive about the creative process behind Machine Man so far, now is your chance for some insight.

At first I thought you would have to turn those comments off when reading a Subtext book, at least the first time through, because otherwise that would be really distracting. But I have found that this is impossible. You know the comments are lurking there, and it’s too much to resist turning them back on when you’re wondering, “Does anyone else think this story just completely went off the rails?”

So that’s pretty cool. Not from an author’s perspective. From an author’s perspective, it’s horrible. I want you to sit there and read what I’ve damn well written for you. But as another example of users seizing control over their own entertainment experiences, it seems significant.

Movie news! I just changed the subject. That’s what happened there. Mark Heyman, the scriptwriter of Black Swan, who’s been busy working on what I have to say is a freaking fantastic Machine Man script, I know I’m not allowed to tell anyone, Mandalay, BUT IT IS AWESOME, has sold his “Facebook thriller” script XOXO, with Darren Aronofsky producing. So it’s all going pretty nicely in Heyman-land. Syrup is deep in post-production and I still haven’t seen it, not that I’m thinking about it every ten minutes or anything. And the leads are busy: Amber Heard is doing interviews for The Rum Diary, and Shiloh Fernandez is becoming an eco-terrorist.

Comments

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stanley becker (#5283)

Location: black hole
Quote: "DON"T JUDGE A BOOK BY ITS COVER!!"
Posted: 1036 days ago

I think a new program called "context" is nearing completion - good news is always good news [a truism] and I'm sure the movies will push you "forward" as the late great Ken Kesey used to say Love Stan XX

Machine Man subscriber Adam (#24)

Location: Morristown, Indiana
Quote: "Why do I blog? Simple, because Max Barry blogs."
Posted: 1036 days ago

10/28/2011

SIGNATURE?

I'm very confused on what to do with electronic books.

Can you make an e-signature to sign my electronic Max Barry books? Seriously, if I ever meet you, what the heck am I supposed to do?! Have you sign my kindle?

What about if I meet other authors I enjoy? Should I have them sign my e-reader?

...a few years from now, all I'll have is an outdated e-reader with the a bunch of random signatures on it.

-adam

SongBird (#5736)

Location: California
Quote: "It will all be okay in the end. If it's not okay, it's NOT THE END."
Posted: 1036 days ago

It sounds fascinating, from both a reader and writer's perspective. Unfortunately, I'm an android user, so I can't play along. I wonder if they'll make a droid version.

SongBird

ryandake (#2199)

Location: scenic monterey, ca
Quote: ""The rest is not our business.""
Posted: 1034 days ago

wow, i have to say that Subtext sounds kind of... horrifying. the i'm-so-cleverness of so many on the internets is already terribly off-putting, but then to have that intrude on a book? it'd be the digital equivalent of buying a marked-up, highlighted, coffee-spilled on used book.

personally i'd much rather just read what the author has to say.

you may rest assured in the knowledge that all your works will come to at least one reader unsullied. and i like 'em that way.

Kirk Schultz (#5743)

Location: Nationwide
Quote: "Jennifer Government was my real life, stuff you couldn't make up actually happened to me from 2001 to 2011, and can be read in lulu dot com book : The Sacramento Torture Gang and the Evil Blue Box "
Posted: 1034 days ago

5743 - Jennifer Government was my life. Great Book - looking forward to Machine Man - Entered NationStates under NASCARwiretapARMofUSA

kotekzot (#5795)

Posted: 980 days ago

Adam, you can always ask them to sign your e-copy with their certificate.

I have to agree with ryandake about the whole Subtext affair. Without some serious moderation it's all going to be spoilers, and even if it's not, why would I want to be taken out of the book and read what John Doe thought about it? That's the equivalent of somebody talking loudly at the pictures.

qunow (#6009)

Location: Hong Kong
Posted: 741 days ago

This seem to be great as a text version of Japanese niconico website, but it have a great problem that it have no android client.

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