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Microserfs Paperback – 1996


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Product Details

  • Paperback
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Canada, Limited (1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060987049
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060987046
  • Product Dimensions: 13.5 x 2.2 x 20.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 318 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (186 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #756,574 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars

Most helpful customer reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on Sept. 6 1999
Format: Paperback
Microserfs is a story of a group of computer coders working, and living, together. First they reside in Seattle working for Microsoft, and then they move to Palo Alto and work for Interiority, a company of them, Michael, founds to produce a program he has invented called Oop!. The story is told by Dan Underwood and written in the form of a diary. Unlike most diaries in which one would learn intimate details of another's life, here we are left with pop-computer-culture-lingo from characters as flat as an old floppy disk. The language, which tries to be clever, is rather juvenile. On some literary plain it could be argued that this stylistic element is intentional because Dan isn't a writer, but, intentional or not, this plain doesn't make the story anymore interesting to read. There is almost a seemingly inescapable potential for emotion in some elements of the story. For example, Dan's family life contains a brother who died in an accident at age 14, a middle-aged father who gets fired from his job and a mother who suffers a stroke. But these scenarios just seem to add more pages to the text. Emotion too seems to have been deleted from Coupland's repertoire. To determine if you may enjoy the book take this test. Think of your friends. Now describe them by naming 7 categories that they would consider ideal if they were on Jeopardy. Now do it to yourself. If this sounds interesting you probably would enjoy the book, as this is how Dan describes people. If not, take a few seconds out of your life and observe a moment of silence for those who don't have one.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By P. Mizukami on Oct. 4 2003
Format: Paperback
Chances are you'll get that feeling when you read Microserfs. That warm feeling of nostalgia you get when a book so successfully transports you to a time when life was full of surprises which you thought of as mere routine, and things were more exciting than they seemed, and you were happy and clueless about everything.
Years have gone by, and looking back you can see how strange routine was, and how the cynicism of then was tame when compared to the cynicism of now. Being transported back to then gives you hope for the now, and the comfort of open arms that will hold you, and of a mouth that will whisper into your ear "There are things that you must remember." It's almost supernatural. My skin crawls.
I'm not a coder, never was. Never worked in the Silicon Valley. Lived there during the time this book takes place, but never was friends with people that remotely resembled the people this book tries to characterize. But, ah, the zeitgeist! As said elsewhere...this IS the zeitgeist. It is the zeitgeist made flesh through words. Coupland is less talented than this book allows us to conclude, but Microserfs is just sublime, and one of my favorite pieces of writing ever.
It reminds me of old videogames; empty outlets in the middle of the desert; sleepwalking through part of a technological revolution; warm microwave ovens; trashy sci-fi TV shows and Saved by the Bell reruns; clever toys that time forgot; Taco Bell restaurants; ancient DOS manuals; dusty floppy disks; healthy junk food; slow days; the golden age of Vallco Mall in Cupertino; riding Bus 81 in San Jose, and the Caltrain from Santa Clara to San Francisco; buying Lucasarts games at Fry's Electronics...
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 29 2003
Format: Paperback
Ah, what a lovely geek book. First, I've always loved Douglas' writing.
Microserfs was the first book I read by him, and judging from his other works it's one of the few that actually makes a real 'book' Generation X & Shampoo planet (two of the writers other, early works) are just a bunch of stories strung together.
Microserfs is the story of a bunch of young 20 something geeks who work at Microsoft, all with aspirations of doing something more and finding out about their lives. A perfect allegory for young people of this generation who grew up weaned on computers.
The characters quit Microsoft to form their own start up, with dreams of making it rich (almost a modern day parable for gold rush and other explorers/entrepreneurs of the past
century).
Along the way, they each come to learn something about themselves. While this is mostly a coming-of-age story that's been done so many times before. Coupland writes it differently.
Giving each character their top 5 Jeopardy categories, making them each so individually nuanced (one's obsessed with Xerox, etc) yet instantly relatable and understandable.
They're weird and quirky, but in the same way that any geek is. And they're not ashamed of this, reading this book if you are technically inclined, geeky, weird, etc, makes you feel less alone, part of something.
Like most Coupland books the ending is brief and abrupt, suddenly everyone's problems are solved, and they've all come to realize something about themselves. It feels more like the writer just ran out of story ideas, rather than a natural conclusion.
But the conclusion isn't the important part, it's the journey. And experiencing this very readable (yet still importantly different, with it's random computer quotations pasted in at times), and identifiable novel lets any techo-nerd feel at ease as they pass along for the ride.
Also recommended: THE LOSERS' CLUB by Richard Perez
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