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Austin Grossman

Austin Grossman is a game designer, game writer, and novelist. After graduating from Harvard in 1992, he failed to get a job in publishing and found a job at a small computer game company, Looking Glass Studios where he wrote and designed for games such as Ultima Underworld 2, System Shock, Jurassic Park: Trespasser, Deus Ex, Disney’s Epic Mickey, and most recently, Dishonored. Along the way, Grossman also earned a Master’s in Performance Studies at NYU, and went on to work on a Ph.D. in English Literature at the University of California, Berkeley. Austin Grossman is Lev Grossman‘s twin brother.
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Soon I Will Be Invincible: Sometimes Postmodernism gives me a headache

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Soon I Will Be Invincible by Austin Grossman

Sometimes post-modernist novels, like time-travel novels, give me a headache. It’s because I’m confused. Is the writer subverting expectations with the ending, or it is just that they can’t wrap up a story? And that really shallow character, is that a flaw, or a comment on society’s view of that “type?” Did the novelist really just lift points and themes wholesale from other works because it was easy, or this is an “in-depth analysis and critique of mainstream culture’s tropes and values?”

So, sometimes these kinds of books give me a headache. On the other hand, the 3D glasses at the cinema give me a headache too, but sometimes I still want to watch something in 3D. It’s a price I pay.

I’m willing to pay that price for Austin ... Read More

YOU: For the nostalgia of the burgeoning game industry only

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YOU by Austin Grossman

Russell was a nerd in high school, running with a crowd of computer geeks before anyone knew what computers could do. Unlike his childhood friends, he didn’t stay a computer geek. He went on to try to have a ‘normal’ life. His friends went on to release a hugely popular video game, and founded a game label in its own right. Years later and after many changes in plans Russell comes back and applies to work for the people he left behind. Austin Grossman’s YOU is the story of a guy who isn’t quite anything but finds a place where maybe he can create something.

Characters are a huge part of any story for me. I can forgive most trope-filled plots if I can really dig into the characters. I had no such luck with Y... Read More

Crooked: Nixon is flawed, tortured, and completely compelling!

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Crooked by Austin Grossman

Austin Grossman’s Crooked is the best book I’ve read this year. I expected good things from Lev Grossman’s twin brother, but not much otherwise as I am not — was not — a big fan of Nixon or, indeed, of American history in general. Let’s be real, I’m an unpatriotic Europhile who prefers reading about the Tudors to the Kennedys, who will always find the Norman Conquest more interesting than the American Civil War. But by the end of the first chapter, I was breathless, thrilled, entertained and excited beyond my wildest expectations. Also, obsessed with Richard Nixon.

Crooked tells the story of Richard Milhous Nixon’s rise to power, complete with childhood in Yorba Linda, fight agai... Read More

The Mad Scientist’s Guide to World Domination: For a dose of crazy genius

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The Mad Scientist’s Guide to World Domination edited by John Joseph Adams

The Mad Scientist’s Guide to World Domination is the latest themed anthology edited by John Joseph Adams — and it’s another good one. This time, Adams has collected a set of short stories featuring the hero’s (or often superhero’s) traditional antagonist: the mad genius, the super-villain, the brilliant sociopath who wants to remold the world in his own image — or occasionally, maybe, just be left alone in his secret lair to conduct spine-tingling experiments that, as an unfortunate side-effect, may cause drastically rearranged geography, rampant mutation, or major extinction events.

Under the editorial direction of John Joseph Adams, this anthology offers an impressively varied view on this archetypical character. Some stories refer back to mad geniuses you’ll be familiar with (Fran... Read More