CNET Book Club: Max Brooks on his new Minecraft Novel, The Mountain

“It’s all about survival,” says author Max Brooks of his work. “It could be a survival of individuals, it could be survival of countries.” 

That’s certainly true of his groundbreaking zombie novel World War Z and its followup, Devolution, where a remote community of techies playing back-to-nature are trapped between an exploding volcano and a tribe of hungry Sasquatches. 

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Max Brooks on surviving zombies, Bigfoot and Minecraft


“Pretty much every book I ever write, no matter how eclectic they seem, it’s all the same theme.” 


Penguin Random House

Survival is also the theme of Minecraft, the granddaddy of just-stay-alive video games (not counting The Oregon Trail, I suppose). There, a pickaxe and your wits are the only constants in a sometimes unforgiving world of blocky monsters, but huge creations and new environments can also grow out of creativity and experimentation. 

“When I first started playing with my son, I knew that this was not just special, but this is potentially world-changing,” he says of his introduction to the game. “I’m not exaggerating when I say that I think that Minecraft has the potential to be the greatest teaching tool since Gutenberg printing press.”

In a wide-ranging discussion, we talk to Brooks about his novels, but also the Prussian education model, the danger of self-driving cars, his favorite retro RPGs and our mutual love for the civilization-building games of Sid Meier. 

The Mountain is Brooks’ second Minecraft novel, a followup to 2017’s The Island. In the new book, the same nameless protagonist navigates the game-like world and makes his way to a new land. There he finds something he can’t craft, stack or deconstruct — another person.

About CNET Book Club

The Book Club is an occasional series hosted by a pair of self-proclaimed book experts: Dan Ackerman (author of the nonfiction video game history book The Tetris Effect), and Scott Stein, a playwright and screenwriter. We’ll be announcing our next Book Club selection soon, so send us your suggestions and keep an eye out for updates on Twitter at @danackerman and @jetscott.

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