Prologue

HOW I SPENT MY SUMMER VACATION

By Jay Banksman

If I suck, I’m sorry; writing is not a strong suit. Nor is it how I wanted to spend my summer vacation. But you asked for it. You contributed to the all-mighty hubbub surrounding my story. You wanted a novel, now here it is.

A little walkback. First: Stuff happened. You know the Stuff of which I speak. The Stuff you’ve read a million times over. Reported in the New York Times, in Scientific American, and the longest Wired article ever. The Stuff that made the late-night circuit news, appearing on Colbert Report, parodied on South Park, expanding onward and outward, warping beyond what actually happened into pop culture phenomenon.

I didn’t write that Stuff. I was interviewed dozens of times and though it was all my story, it was not telling my version of my story. And when it became obvious that the abundant coverage didn’t satiate the public, that there was still hunger for the exploits of Jay Banksman, despite the story having been told a bajillion times, a book deal was inevitable. So here we are.

Before writing this, the longest thing I’d ever written was a book report for Mr. Yale’s Advanced Literature class. It was on Snowcrasher, and I padded with as many adverbs, clauses and ‘henceforths’ as I could muster, it still only squeaked by at nine and half pages. So when Nerdist.com offered me a book deal, my first response was “Hell no!” It sounded impossible, and like a terrible use of my summer vacation. The last thing I wanted was to be chained indoors on my first summer of real freedom.

But then they offered me money. Fame. Sex. Well, not exactly sex, but admission into Stanford. Which, if the rumors about the Stanford parties are true, is basically the same thing. So, being only human, I quickly changed my answer to a resounding “Sure, why not.”

Plus, Greta Hayes was my editor. Greta Hayes. Have you seen Greta? Google her, I’ll wait. You see? Not only is she smart—she’s very smart—not only did she do a heck of a job in the original Wired article she wrote on me, but she is one. Heck. Of an editor. If you see what I mean from her bio pic, wink wink.

Oh, and I should say: she wrote most of this book. I know I’m not supposed to say that, but it’s true. Greta, you’re a better writer than I. My name on the cover is a mere formality, a ruse to sell more copies.

Okay, one last thing before Greta and I cut to the chase: Greta’s original article did a great job capturing the spirit of my spring and summer. It’s the perfect summary. If you’re looking for the Reader’s Digest version or you’re—god forbid—writing a book report and don’t want to wade through however many words this is, go with the article. Google it. It’s free. It’s only 5,000 some words, just a little longer than my terrible Snowcrasher essay. It does a fantastic job detailing the events of my summer. Great job, Greta.

So why write a book that’s ten times longer? What else is there to say?

The article does many things well. It neatly summarizes the Stuff that went down. It contextualizes it all and imbues it with Grand Somber Importance. It heralds a new era of artificial intelligence. It documents a pivotal moment in mankind’s history. It even makes it all kinda funny.

But what the article doesn’t do is describe Liz Knight’s smile. Or how it was Todd Haynes going missing that really kicked everything off. Nor does it explain how Colin and I were not only equipped to survive the craziness, but actually kick some ass. So if you’re a sucker for those kind of details, like I am, this book’s for you. If you’re not: go read the damn Wired article!

K, that’s it, I’m done. Take it away, Greta.

Next Chapter: The Girl Behind The Falls