active maas

The blog of thriller writer Robert Maas

To the untidy end

When I was a kid, I often stayed in my grandparents’ manor house in England. It was a musty, falling-down place, lacking mains water or electricity. A shambles of soft floors and collapsing ceilings, of drafty corridors and mildew, of sooty chimneys, spiders, spook and shadow. I adored it. Read more…

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Keep those screams a-rollin’

My new novel Slow Wilhelm Exit is an irreverent analogy of the accumulating wounds we suffer at the hands of the people we let into our hearts. It’s a literal death of a thousand cuts. But what is that title supposed to mean? Read more…

Words from the wringer

Like my previous bite-sized novels A Thousand Years Of Nanking and Tessellation Row, my new thriller Cheer Up Sleepy Gene uses a frothy technological horror plot as a framework on which to hang the dirty linen of human emotions. Read more…

Let’s loop again

The first recording device I owned was a Philips reel-to-reel tape deck my mother had bought around the time I was born. It had a microphone on a lead so I could record myself tootling worthlessly on the descant recorder. I used it to make loops. Read more…

The uncertain art of prediction

If you want to know the future…well, don’t ask a science fiction writer. Actually, nobody does. They go ask Stephen Hawking, who gravely informs them that we should be careful or artificial intelligence might rise against us. Steady on, Steve. Read more…

Significant days: is human exceptionalism a myth?

I hate to get all solipsistic here, but the universe revolves around me. At least from my perspective it does. Just as it revolves around you from your perspective. We’re not just human-centric. We’re me-centric. We’re one person flat earth societies. Read more…

Sculpting the future

Artists have always looked toward the future. The obsession is easiest to trace in writing and painting, since these are most closely linked to what we think of as “science fiction.” But it’s equally true of architecture and sculpture. Read more…

A space war is fine by me

One day, we’re going to regret that we didn’t throw every effort we could into the space program. Our ancestors may look back on us as the age in which we could have done something significant to safeguard their lives, and chose to do nothing. Read more…

Idiotic for the masses

Technology makes you stupid. I’m not being insulting here — that’s the point of it. That’s the contract we’ve entered into with our tools. You do all the thinking, we say to our smartphones. Just give me a couple of buttons so simple my kid can use them. Read more…

Make mine a double

I like to think that I inherited a force of will. Both his parents are brooding, stubborn people, so I think my son has a will, too, even if it has yet to manifest itself as more than temper tantrums and biting other kids in the kindergarten. Read more…

Rock stories: a holiday on Io

To get to my favorite hotel in the Hakone hot spring resort, you need to take a couple of aerial tramways over the mountain. At one point, you track across the exposed slope where Hakone extracts its fabled sulfurous water. Read more…

The sound of tearing galaxies

There’s something in my psyche that reacts strongly to noise – to monstrous, pummeling, scarifying music played at the limit of endurance. I suspect it’s my willingness to be utterly overwhelmed by the universe. Read more…

The final interface: passing the baton

In the best SF movie of 2014, we’re witness to the point at which an old, weary species, its society crumbled, its numbers depleted, finds itself witness to the rise of a brave and hungry successor. And there’s not a damn dirty ape in sight. Read more…

And the horses too

One of my current hobbies is reading old copies of OMNI, the populist science and technology magazine that was published between 1978 and 1995. Read more…

Buy it for the cover

Science fiction is notorious for having covers that bear nothing in common with the contents of the book. My best formative experience with SF was because of an unrepresentative cover — and so was my worst. Read more…

Of cats and circuses

In Japan, where many people live in apartments that don’t allow pets, cat cafés are big business. Over the past ten years, a huge number of these places have sprung up. Some don’t allow you to touch the animals – the cats are just decoration. Others are gloriously hands-on. Read more…

Seeing mountains in the sky

Like cities the world over, Tokyo is constantly on the move. Blink and you’ve missed something. However, in my daily scurry around town, I sometimes see things that aren’t there. Read more…

Theme park atrocity: visiting Hiroshima

I’ve visited Hiroshima several times, both for business and pleasure. I guess it’s seen as obligatory for foreigners. The city itself lies at the heart of a beautiful tourist region. But I’ve never enjoyed it — and my Japanese wife hates the place. Read more…

Riding the coat tails of tragedy

I’ve been on the periphery of two major events. Both continue to affect the lives of thousands of people. And both, I’m ashamed to say, have been exploited callously by science fiction movies. Read more…

Adventures in composition

Both my first two published novels, Residuum and Biome, grew out of my decision to explore alternative methods of writing. Why use the word processor as a remedial device when it can do so much more — if you’re brave enough? Read more…

A bone in the sky

It may be the most famous jump in cinema history, but the transition from a bone thrown into the sky by our ape ancestor to a nuclear weapon in Earth orbit in 2001: A Space Odyssey grates, every time I see it. The match cut simply doesn’t match. Read more…

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