The Extra Trilogy

by on Jan.19, 2010


LA Times February 2010

The Extra’ by Michael Shea

…He envisions a Hollywood in which “live action” is quite literally that — action scenes resulting in actual death…

“The Extra” is mostly a pulpy comic book that’s equal parts bromance, over-the-top Hollywood satire and blood-spewing horror tale.

It’s dark and ridiculous, but like any death match story worth its salt, it traffics in just enough plausibility to make us feel unsettled.

As the extras fight for their lives, the behind-the-scenes bloodlust transforms the book from sci-fi bombast into a deliciously depraved morality tale.

Sure, “The Extra” is brutally over the top, and its characters function more as types than flesh and blood. But Shea’s broad strokes are pretty vibrant and never less than fully entertaining.

You know, it’s a spectacle. Can’t wait to see the movie.

By Erik Himmelsbach, Los Angeles writer and producer.

Read more here

LocusLocus Magazine January 2010
Review by Paul Witcover

The novel is pubbing in early February–an early valentine for anyone who loves movies…

Nathanael West set his outrageous Hollywood apocalypse, The Day of the Locust, in the Depression; Michael Shea sets his in a depressed near future that West would have recognized and appreciated.

The future of The Extra reads as an all-too-likely extrapolation of the present day, with a government run by a coterie of multinational corporations known as the Corps and a highly stratified and static social order that pits the lower classes against the middle classes for the benefit of the upper classes.

Read more here

Shea’s prose is brutal and his mood savage in this horror show glimpse of things to come. The Extra presages a dystopia we Westerners can witness going up, brick by brick. Bare knuckles satire at its finest.

-Laird Barron, Author Imago Sequence

Michael Shea’s The Extra offers intensity, great characters, action, satire that may well be prescient, fine writing, and intelligent nonstop entertainment. What do you want, dammit? This is the one!”

– John Shirley, Author of multiple books and Screenwriter, The Crow

THE EXTRA packs more violence, hilarity and speed-freak action in its throw-away asides that most science fiction books build an entire story around. This is a hot ticket.

– Patton Oswalt, Actor and Comedian

I have been reading Michael Shea religiously for years, and while his work is always original, always disturbing, I do not believe he has ever written a book as exuberant, energetic and gleefully mordant as The Extra. In Mr. Shea’s witty extrapolation of current trends in popular entertainment, a downtrodden trio of urban gladiators must survive the most lethal technology Hollywood can devise in order to earn a few clacks, sell a few tickets, and escape the “zoo” of L.A. In other words, it’s show business as usual: you’re either killing or dying.

Horror, humor, action, pathos, bread, circuses, giant mechanical spiders — oh hell, where can I buy a ticket?

-Sam Hamm, Screenwriter of Batman and author

All the hallmarks of Shea’s much-lauded storytelling are here: strong, sinewy sentences–muscular metaphors–crafty characters immersed in action both horrific and hilarious. What’s really new is a greater generosity of spirit. As the action revs up, we get to love these characters. And when the sawed-offs start blasting through the crush of spider-hordes, you feel both the recoil of the shotguns and the leaping hopes of our heroes’ hearts.

– Marc Laidlaw–author of multiple books and Half-Life game designer

Michael Shea puts his people in the damndest nightmares. He puts you in there with them, and drives the whole lot of you through a delirium of breakneck action and mad invention– hillarity and hellfire itself. Wanna be in the movies? Step inside…….

– Stuart Gordon, Director/ Screenwriter Re-Animator

Michael Shea has been writing dazzling books of fantasy and horror since the early eighties, and over the intervening decades, readers who come to him for the first time invariably wind up asking, Where has this guy been all my life? Shea offers a combination of gifts unique to him, I think: an innately edgy feel to the writing; a descriptive ability comparable to that of Jack Vance; a wild blazing, imaginative capacity; a sense of humor permanently set to what reflemen used to call “rock and roll.” THE EXTRA starts out at a dead run and accelerates from there, effortlessly wrapping the reader into its tale of gone-to-hell L.A. and a little bank of gutsy starvelings with blood on their hands.

– Peter Straub, Author Ghost Story

With The Extra (Tor; 283 pages; $22.99), Michael Shea, the Bay Area author of “Nifft the Lean,” finds a new wrinkle in “the most dangerous game.” Set in a near-future Hollywood, the novel satirizes the current reality-TV craze while delivering plenty of fast-paced, gory thrills.

-Michael Berry, Chronicle Staff Writer


Hardcover: 288 pages
Publisher: Tor Books

In the not-too-distant future, humanity is so decimated by poverty that people will do anything for money.

An innovative producer gives the poor hope by offering them work as extras in a series of “live death” films where they’ll be stalked by giant, blood-thirsty mechanical monsters.

The job is easy – survive.

Audio CD
Audio Cassette

Jim Frenkel / TOR Books purchased a trilogy via agent Eleanor Wood of Spectrum Literary Agency, based upon Michael’s story THE EXTRA. The original short story was included in his World Fantasy Award finalist collection from Arkham House, POLYPHEMUS.

The three novels in the series are:


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