Barry, Max

Tagged: Author

(1973-    ) Australian author whose first novel, Syrup (1999) as by Maxx Barry, edged toward the fantastic in its spoof treatment of the modern corporate world; his second, Jennifer Government (2003), gains in the force of its attack through full immersion in a Near Future environment in which governments have become enfeebled, and international corporations rule the roost. Echoes of The Space Merchants (July-August 1952 Galaxy as "Gravy Planet"; rev and cut 1953) by C M Kornbluth and Frederik Pohl are openly acknowledged in the text, whose savageries – corporations routinely commission spectacular killings to focus consumer attention on new products – reflect the half century since Kornbluth/Pohl's Satire. Surnames reflect the corporations and governments for which characters work, hence the eponymous Australian government agent, whose vengeance-fuelled attempts to pin down some particularly egregious corporate apparatchiks drives the frenetic plot.

Machine Man (2011) describes the self-creation of a Cyborg in terms of Satire; in Lexicon (2013) a complex double-plot structure gradually unveils the sinister growth of rhyming Memes (designed for advertising purposes) into genuine Basilisks, which kill those who repeat them. It may be the case that a sustained reiteration of these killer rhymes will result in the End of the World, a consummation devoutly pursued by a religious cult (see Religion), whose motives resemble those of the deadly cult in Tim Powers's near-contemporary Salvage and Demolition (2013).

Providence (2020),on the other hand, is Military SF set in an interstellar Space Opera venue, with homo sapiens beset by inimical Aliens and a Starship crew attempting to prevent a final defeat, though their reports back to social media on Earth are in fact scripted by the seemingly sentient (though unqualifiedly intelligent) AI-that commands the space dreadnought they occupy. Homo sapiens in this new world are supernumerary, though clearly full of vim and vigour. [JC]

Max Barry

born Melbourne, Australia: 18 March 1973



  • Syrup (New York: Viking, 1999) as by Maxx Barry [hb/]
  • Jennifer Government (New York: Doubleday, 2003) [hb/]
  • Company (New York: Doubleday, 2006) [hb/Michael Heiko]
  • Machine Man (New York: Vintage Books, 2011) [pb/Matt Roeser]
  • Lexicon (London: Hodder and Stoughton/Mulholland Books, 2013) [hb/]
  • Providence (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 2020) [hb/Getty Images]


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