Grossman, Austin 1969- (Austin Seth Grossman)
Grossman, Austin 1969- (Austin Seth Grossman)
Writer, novelist, editor, consultant, and video game designer. Looking Glass Games, video game designer; freelance game design consultant.
John Sargent, Sr., First Novel Prize finalist, 2007, for Soon I Will Be Invincible.
Postmortems from Game Developer (editor), CMP Books (San Francisco, CA), 2003.
Soon I Will Be Invincible (novel), Pantheon Books (New York, NY), 2007.
Novelist and editor Austin Grossman is a former full-time video game designer and is currently a game design consultant. He has worked on several popular games for a number of platforms, including Deus Ex, System Shock, Ultimate Underworld 2, Clive Barker's Undying, and an episode of the long-running Tomb Raider franchise, Tomb Raider: Legend. Grossman credits his work in game design with honing his storytelling abilities in a day-to-day, real-world atmosphere. "Working on a video game, they hand you a lot of genre stuff," and it is the designer's job to "make it real," Grossman told interviewer Regis Behe in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. This experience amounted to a great deal of practical problem-solving experience within the context of creating a believable fictional world. "I like to say that working in video games was my substitute for a regular fiction MFA program," Grossman remarked to Behe.
Grossman's debut novel, Soon I Will Be Invincible, deeply mines popular culture to present a story that outwardly displays all of the traits of a superhero epic, but which inwardly treats the larger-than-life super-characters with literary style and sensitivity of character. "I wanted a way to write literary fiction but somehow fuse it with the geeky pulp writing I liked, and I felt like I was a closet nerd and I wanted to throw it in their faces," Grossman remarked in an interview on the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) Collective Web site. Grossman's "diabolically brilliant idea is to combine the well-loved clichés of the superhero genre with a contemporary-realist style," observed Library Journal reviewer Jenne Bergstrom.
The villain of the story is Doctor Impossible, who possesses super-strength, formidable scientific knowledge, and an IQ around 300. His goal, as is that of many evil geniuses, is to take over the world. However, he has tried this feat twelve times—each using a different plan, cohort of assistants, and enhanced servants. Each time he has been defeated and taken to prison. Defeat, however, has not dulled his desire for domination. Even though his girlfriend has left him, his island fortress is in ruins, and his freedom is curbed, he is ready for a thirteenth attempt. And this time, despite his past record, he knows he will succeed. Soon, Doctor Impossible has once again escaped from prison and is assembling the diverse components of his plan.
In counterpoint to Doctor Impossible is Fatale—part woman, part machine, she is a gleaming creation of flesh and metal whose memories of her previous life were wiped out in a nearly fatal accident. A relative newcomer to the superhero world, Fatale has received an invitation to join the world's elite super-group, the Champions. It is not an invitation she can turn down, and soon she is a dubious colleague of other super-beings including: Feral, a ferocious hybrid of man and tiger; Blackwolf, a supremely trained athlete and crime-fighter in peak human physical condition; El- phin, the last of the fairy warriors on earth who was charged with the duty to remain behind when the rest of the fairy race departed; and Lily, a mysterious woman with translucent flesh who was once Doctor Impossible's girlfriend. Looming in the background is the unexplained disappearance of the world's premier superhero, CoreFire, and what his absence will mean for the remaining heroes who must take up his mission of justice. As the story progresses, the characters learn more about themselves and each other as they search for the story behind the missing CoreFire and prepare to deal with Doctor Impossible's latest round of destruction and villainy.
"For adults who were once Justice League or Avengers fans—or even for adolescents currently nuts for the X-Men—Grossman's thrilling first-person rendition of a comic-book world will stimulate and deepen the superhero sensibility," commented AV Club reviewer Donna Bowman. The novel displays a "hip, fun comic ethos that is at once nostalgic and cutting edge," commented Neal Wyatt, writing in Library Journal. "While a super villain's objectives may not be the same as everyone else's, readers will be delightfully surprised to find that at the heart of this book is an inspiring tale of how to cope with repeated failure while still struggling to overcome adversity; that as long as you believe in yourself nothing is impossible," commented PopMatters Web site reviewer Sean O'Rourke.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Analog Science Fiction & Fact, September, 2007, Tom Easton, "The Execution Channel," review of Soon I Will Be Invincible, p. 135.
Booklist, May 15, 2007, Carl Hays, review of Soon I Will Be Invincible, p. 38.
Kirkus Reviews, April 15, 2007, review of Soon I Will Be Invincible.
Library Journal, June 1, 2007, Jenne Bergstrom, review of Soon I Will Be Invincible, p. 110; July 1, 2007, Neil Wyatt, "Beyond the Funny Pages: Comics in Fiction," review of Soon I Will Be Invincible, p. 136.
New York Times, July 29, 2007, Dave Itzkoff, "My Evil Plan," review of Soon I Will Be Invincible.
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, June 24, 2007, Regis Behe, "Whimsical Invincible Showcases Human Interaction," review of Soon I Will Be Invincible.
Publishers Weekly, April 16, 2007, review of Soon I Will Be Invincible, p. 29.
Scotsman (Edinburgh, Scotland), July 21, 2007, Stuart Kelly, "Gods and Monkeys to Keep You Cool," review of Soon I Will Be Invincible.
Washington Post, July 26, 2007, Mat Johnson, "It's a Super World, After All," review of Soon I Will Be Invincible, p. C03.
Wired, May 22, 2007, Steven Leckart, review of Soon I Will Be Invincible; June, 2007, Annalee Newitz, "Dare to Suck: Austin Grossman's Novel Approach to Video Games," profile of Austin Grossman.
Agony Column,http://trashotron.com/agony/ (January 17, 2008), Rick Kleffel, review of Soon I Will Be Invincible.
Atomjack Magazine,http://www.atomjackmagazine.com/ (January 17, 2007), Adicus Ryan Garton, review of Soon I Will Be Invincible.
Austin Grossman Home Page,http://www.austingrossman.com (January 17, 2008).
AV Club,http://www.avclub.com/ (June 7, 2007), Donna Bowman, review of Soon I Will Be Invincible.
BookPage,http://www.bookpage.com/ (January 17, 2008), Thane Tierney, "Good vs. Evil," review of Soon I Will Be Invincible.
British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) Collective Web site,http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/collective/ (January 17, 2008), interview with Austin Grossman.
Fantasy Book Critic Web log,http://fantasybookcritic.blogspot.com/ (June 28, 2007), interview with Austin Grossman.
Gay League Web site,http://www.gayleague.com/ (January 17, 2008), Randall K. Ham, interview with Austin Grossman.
Girl-Wonder.org,http://girl-wonder.org/ (January 17, 2008), Karen Healey, interview with Austin Grossman.
Helium,http://www.helium.com/ (January 17, 2008), Liomas Thomas, review of Soon I Will Be Invincible.
Inside Flap Web log,http://insideflap.blogspot.com/ (June 25, 2007), Justin Riley, interview with Austin Grossman.
January Magazine,http://www.januarymagazine.com/ (January 17, 2008), Andi Shechter, "Bwa-Ha-Ha!," review of Soon I Will Be Invincible.
Jive Magazine,http://www.jivemagazine.com/ (June 5, 2007), interview with Austin Grossman.
KQED Arts & Culture,http://www.kqed.org/arts/ (July 23, 2007), Suzanne Kleid, review of Soon I Will Be Invincible.
Mercantile Library Web site,http://www.mercantilelibrary.org/ (January 17, 2008), "The Jon Sargent, Sr., First Novel Prize 2007 Finalists."
PopMatters,http://www.popmatters.com/ (January 17, 2008), Shawn O'Rourke, review of Soon I Will Be Invincible.
SF Site,http://www.sfsite.com/ (January 17, 2008), Nathan Brazil, review of Soon I Will Be Invincible.
Silver Bullet Comics Web site,http://www.silverbulletcomicbooks.com/ (January 17, 2008), Craig Johnson, "Soon I Will Be Invincible (& Interviewed): Austin Grossman."
Soon I Will Be Invincible Web site,http://www.sooniwillbeinvincible.com (January 24, 2008).
Spike Magazine,http://www.spikemagazine.com/ (January 18, 2007), Dan Coxon, review of Soon I Will Be Invincible.
Writers Read Web log,http://whatarewritersreading.blogspot.com/ (September 19, 2007), interview with Austin Grossman.