Based on his 25-year roller coaster ride in the Information Technology (IT) industry, Biff Mitchell’s latest novel, Team Player, explores the world of work in the 21st Century. Published as an ebook by Australian publisher Jacobyte Books (www.jacobytebooks.com), the story is set in an uncomfortably close future where the world is run by homicidal marketing managers who kill for love, company, and the almighty promotion.
“Aside from the talking brain cells and the rampaging neutrinos …” says Mr. Mitchell “…the angry Italian ghosts and the Bolshevik computers … and the thirty naked pagan women determined to save an uncaring universe with help from a man who thinks he’s a tree … aside from all that: this story could actually take place in any global IT company headquartered in the tallest building in the world, which might be built as an amplified replica of the Leaning Tower of Pisa.”
In one scene, 32 new hires are laid off before their first day of work. At the mandatory farewell lunch they’re told: “And, yes, you will be missed…all the potential, the energy and enthusiasm, the positive attitudes that were the reason you were hired in the first place will be noticeably absent in the lives of the people who would have been working with you. But, then, that’s the software business.” Heads around the table nod in agreement.
“I’ve seen people receive promotions Friday afternoon and walk in the following Monday morning to a lay-off notice,” says Mr. Mitchell. “There’s little in Team Player that’s more absurd than the real world of IT.”
Mr. Mitchell’s work in the IT industry dates as far back as the mid 70s when he wrote computer documentation for a multi-million dollar data management system that crashed beyond repair the first time it was run. Since then, his IT experience has spanned just about every facet of the industry, including technical writing, instructional design, quality assurance, interface design, website creation, sales and marketing, and project management.
“I’ve worked in other areas during that time,” says Mr. Mitchell. “I don’t think anyone can work for an entire quarter of a century in IT and still be sane. I doubt if anyone can work in it for more than a few years and still be playing with a full deck. I look at my own experience in the industry, and I’m certain that I’m whistling a tune straight out of Bedlam.”
“But I haven’t given up on IT,” says Mr. Mitchell. “The industry’s still in its infancy … that’s probably why it’s so wacky. We’re all still amateurs in this whole new world of digital reality. People once thought it was absurd to say that humans could fly. Some day, our ancestors will look back at IT workers today and say of them: ‘And to think, they thought it was absurd to expect to hold on to a job for more than two years.’”
“In fact,” says Mr. Mitchell, “I’ve even had two novels and a collection of short stories published in digital format … what are referred to as ebooks. If not for ebooks, I might never have been published. Traditional publishing companies tend to play it safe and publish only those novels that they’re certain will have popular appeal … the kind of stuff you pick up in grocery stores and airports. My first novel, Heavy Load, was alternative fiction, and it dealt with some disturbing issues. Hell, even the ebook publishers wouldn’t touch it. Agents sent it back to me and disavowed any knowledge of ever having heard of me.”
“And then I came across an ebook company in the US, Ebookstand. Apparently, one of the agents I’d contacted had sent my manuscript to them, but still wouldn’t have anything to do with me. Ebookstand published the book, even waiving the 200 dollar set-up fee, because an agent had referred me.”
“Sales were dismal, so after a year, I started contacting other ebook publishers, and finally, Meredith Whitford of Jacobyte Books in Australia agreed to publish the novel. They published it in book ebook and print-on-demand paperback format. Sales were still dismal, but the book received great reviews.”
“A year later, ShortStuffBooks in Arkansas published a collection of short stories that received a rave review from the Internet’s largest writers’ magazine, Inscriptions. Each one of those stories must have been turned down by a dozen print magazines.”
“Now, my second novel has been published in ebook and print-on-demand format. So, really, the IT industry, though it’s all but robbed me of my sanity, has been good to me in the long run.”
Title: Team Player
Author: Biff Mitchell
ISBN: Paperback 1 74100 129 3 ($21.00)
Download/ebook 1 7411 127 7 ($9.00)
Download Formats: Acrobat, HTML, eBookman, Rocket Book
Publisher URL: http://www.jacobytebooks.com