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They are Microserfs—six code-crunching computer whizzes who spend upward of sixteen hours a day "coding" and eating "flat" foods (food which, like Kraft singles, can be passed underneath closed doors) as they fearfully scan company e-mail to learn whether the great Bill is going to "flame" one of them. But now there's a chance to become innovators instead of cogs in the gargantuan Microsoft machine. The intrepid Microserfs are striking out on their own—living together in a shared digital flophouse as they desperately try to cultivate well-rounded lives and find love amid the dislocated, subhuman whir and buzz of their computer-driven world.

Published: HarperCollins on
ISBN: 9780062105967
List price: $10.99
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It's a strange time to read a book like this. When it came out it would have been very current regarding technology and computers and even other cultural details like the GAP. Now it's practically retro, almost like an old 80s movie. "How geeky we all were then." And yet it still has a futuristic, almost dystopic feel. Yet read this book in 20 or 30 or more years from now, and it will be an excellent historical fiction depicting this lifestyle in a profound way. It's a great commentary on consumerism, technology, social units...
Bound to be a classic.more
Cute book about 'nerds' who met working for Microsoft and then branch out to start their own company. Set in the early 1990s, so of course many of the computer references are outdated, but that adds to the charm (and also shows how far we've come!) I didn't always understand all the computer and nerdy references, but I did enjoy Dan's perspective of the world as well as his subconscious files. The characters were very unique and fun to read about.more
Vivid depiction of people in high tech doing a start up. Funny idea with virtual lego is not so strange now.more
I enjoyed this much more that I thought I would. Surprisingly relevant to me, although I was a child and not a coder during the 90's. Lots of self-reinvention. More poignant than I expected. The ending felt a little tacked on (but 90% of endings feel this way to me), but otherwise I liked this a lot.more
Microserfs was extremely odd. It's mix of random information (the subconscious file), strange insignificant events, and mixes of satire and seriousness made it hard to become deeply connected to any of the characters.While it was a fun look at the geek culture of the 90s, it just felt empty. The approach to storytelling was interesting, but probably not worth another read. Significant not so much for it's story, but for its subject.more
-With his nose to the zeitgeist, the author of Generation X again examines the angst of the white-collar, under-30 set in this entertaining tale of computer techies who escape the serfdom of Bill Gates's Microsoft to found their own multimedia company. The story is told through the online journal of Danielu@microsoft.com, an affable, insomniac, 26-year-old aspiring code writer. Together with his girlfriend Karla, a mousy shiatsu expert with a penchant for Star Trekky aphorisms, and a tight clique of maladjusted, nose-to-the-grindstone housemates, he relocates to a Lego-adorned office in Palo Alto, Calif., to develop a product called Object Oriented Programming (Oop!), a form of virtual Lego. Much of the story concerns the the Oop! staff's efforts to raise capital and "have a life" amid 18-hour work days. Dan's journal, like much prose on the Internet, abounds in typos, encrypted text, emoticons-:) for happy and :( for sad-and random snippets of information, a format that suits Copland's disjointed, soundbite-heavy fiction. Yet the randomness and non linearity of cyberspace hobble narrative. Amid endless digital chitchat and pop-philosophy, this novel's more serious ruminations about the physical and social alienation of life on the Information Superhighway never achieve any real complexity. Coupland would repeat this formula with JPod but it is what he knows best and so goes the writing. The banter and random life philosophies spouted by the characters is carried throughout the book and it is that more than anything that serves to cripple the narrative even as its purpose is to move it forward.more
I was expecting this to be pure satire, but it is actually quite a serious novel, trying to go beyond the stereotype of the "geek" and look at the emotional lives of the people who worked in American software companies in the 1990s. Obviously, any novel that takes up with concepts like "information superhighway" is going to look quaintly old-fashioned 15 years later. That distancing effect is enhanced for non-American readers by the flood of cultural references to American food products and TV shows we've only vaguely heard of. Coupland's computer-geeks turn out, slightly disappointingly, to be rather normal young people who find themselves confronted with the usual hazards of growing up: deciding what to wear, finding a partner, dealing with parents, finding somewhere to live, coping with illness, etc. If they are changing the world, then they are doing it in a somewhat absurd and peripheral way (developing a computer game involving Lego blocks). So, in the end, it turns out to be just a perfectly normal Bildungsroman with a bit of fancy computer language thrown in to make it look experimental.more
Near perfect in form, presentation and emotional drain. A handful of similarly quirky but unqiue characters handle similarly quirky but unique situations through a variety of historical, current and futuristic technologies, all while building a LEGO simulator that will put their new gaming company on the map. Great portrayl of Bill Gates and the Microsoft culture, as well as the campuses and lifestyles of a variety of other tech companies of the time. Fairly unique in presentation, often incorporating a literal reprinting of computer-related topics presented in each chapter, including the main character's computer's "sub-conscious" files acting as barriers between chapters. Taught me many a random factoid - the amounts of chemicals in the human body and the various uses for them, the body as a form of memory, flatland foods - and many a life lesson - why talking to someone through "license plate" speak can be the most heartbreaking and hopeful communication in the world. Touching, honest, hilarious and surprisingly warm look at the computer industry, nerds, and the Silicon Valley.more
Required reading for geeks, especially those from a pre Windows 98 era. Also good for lovers of binary, dos, linux ascii, computer programming and geeky snack foods.more
Group of MSFT employees get bored & move to Silicon Valley to join a startup. First 50 pages of the book are great, then it just gets duller, and duller. Good start, average finish.more
Even though it's over 10 years old, this book captures like no other the spirit and the lives of technology people, or geeks, to make it simpler. This is really a book about relationships and feelings, and it is very easy to get caught up in the story, especially for those of us living in Silicon Valley.more
Microserfs was my introduction to Coupland, and what a favorable meeting. His sarcastic, often time caustic, way of writing is perfect for a "Gen-Xer" like me.more
I have to be fair: maybe I would have liked this book more if I'd read it when it first came out. It seems so concerned with capturing the mid-90s Silicon Valley "Zeitgeist" that I'm sure I'm missing out by reading it a decade after the Zeit. But still, it seems like a book I would not have enjoyed even at the time, because the principal pleasure comes from recognition (hey, I watch the Simpsons and eat Kraft singles too! I'm such a nerd!). I don't read books for the pleasure of recognising pop culture references and feeling as if I therefore fit into a group; I read books to learn more about the world and the other people in it. This book tried to provide some of that with its frequent pop-psychology moments, but it wasn't enough. And for me the ending was very contrived. I know it's just a light comedy, and if it was really funny I wouldn't care about any number of plot deficiencies or annoying pop-culture references. But I didn't laugh out loud all the way through; the best it raised for me was a wry smile. I suppose I'm just a miserable sod.more
For a while this was my favorite book. My mother picked it up for me from a library book sale because "I like computers." So it took me a while to read it, but I'm glad I did, for many reasons.For one thing, it seems to have captured the early- to mid-nineties nerd zeitgeist well. As someone who missed out on it (a bit before my time), I'm jealous of those who got to experience computing just as it became popular and before it became old hat.As the title indicates, this book follows a group of characters who work at Microsoft. They're all very quirky, but they all speak exactly the same way (Ok, all of Coupland's characters talk in the same way).It's a very light and funny book and I've read it a few times. It was also my gateway to Coupland's other work, most of which I think is superior to this. It's also a very touching book (I thought) that manages to stay entertaining throughout. If you haven't read Coupland before, he manages to pack in a lot of very interesting little anecdotes and musings that you'll think about for a while after you read the book. So although its light reading on par with most pop books, it also has some enduring value.Two complaints:1. Dialogue is homogenous. (See above)2. Every chapter has a page of "stream of consciousness" text. It's fun the first one or two chapters you see it, but it gets old and kind of pretentious quickly.Nonetheless, neither complaint is sufficient to bring down the rating.Highly recommended for those looking for an easy read or computer geeks, but I think everyone would enjoy this.more
I read a great deal of negative reviews of this book but I thought it was hillarious! It was like a diary or stream of consousness but there were so many "weird" facts and theories intertwined that it really made me think. I thought the end was very different from the tone of the rest of the book but it really made me think. I wouldnt exactly give it 5 stars because Im trying to be more conservative with stars, but I really enjoyed it!more
This was the book to win over the geek community. Its characters are pulled straight outta Redwood, and the spirit of the novel is precisely that which lifted Silicon Valley so high.The first half is better than the second; with Coupland it often feels like more fun getting to know a character than actually living with one, and this is certainly the case with "Microserfs." Still, it is one of the better books I've read on the subject, and has earned its geek credentials well.more
The best Coupland book by far and the one that really captures an era absolutely superbly. Clever, bright and funny.more
There are dangers working backwards through an author’s catalogue – you may just discover a turkey, and this was one tough bird. The blurb “More one lines than a Woody Allen film” is true and the first half of the novel about computer geeks is quite refreshingly amusing. But the magic fades and the second half of the novel is just plain hard work. I had to reduce myself to 10-page batches to get to the end.If you want to read a piece of social history concerning vacuity in Silicon Valley during the 90’s, and a prophecy regarding the technocrash of the early naughties, read this. On the other hand, if you want to read a good Coupland novel, read Hey Nostradamus! It’s a masterpiece.more
I love this book. I worked in computing for some years and have friends who do so still, and this crazy world is not so far from reality. One of the few books I can read several times with enjoyment.more
The first time I read this book was for a postmodern fiction class in college. I think I was the only person in the class who liked the book, because I seemed to be the only one who got the humor or identified with the characters. It has been one of my favorites ever since. I wish I could read it again for the first time. I remember laughing out loud so many times on my first reading. It's still funny, of course, but not nearly as much as it was when it was fresh. The ending gets me every time, though. I love the way the whole thing comes together, and all the technological and philosophical discussion ties into the very human, very emotional story.more
first line (of the preface): "On a cool spring night in Savannah, my mother is walking."first line (of the first chapter): "I stood alone outside our house in deep blue twilight."A book with classic literary themes: coming of age; mother-daughter relationships; vampires....I was disappointed with the ending until I learned that Hubbard's written a sequel, The Year of Disappearances. I enjoyed the first one, and its interesting take on vampirism, enough that I'll likely pick up the second sometime soon.I wonder whether this will be a trilogy or an ongoing series...?more
One of my fave Coupland books. Entertaining from beginning to end.more
Read all 26 reviews

Reviews

It's a strange time to read a book like this. When it came out it would have been very current regarding technology and computers and even other cultural details like the GAP. Now it's practically retro, almost like an old 80s movie. "How geeky we all were then." And yet it still has a futuristic, almost dystopic feel. Yet read this book in 20 or 30 or more years from now, and it will be an excellent historical fiction depicting this lifestyle in a profound way. It's a great commentary on consumerism, technology, social units...
Bound to be a classic.more
Cute book about 'nerds' who met working for Microsoft and then branch out to start their own company. Set in the early 1990s, so of course many of the computer references are outdated, but that adds to the charm (and also shows how far we've come!) I didn't always understand all the computer and nerdy references, but I did enjoy Dan's perspective of the world as well as his subconscious files. The characters were very unique and fun to read about.more
Vivid depiction of people in high tech doing a start up. Funny idea with virtual lego is not so strange now.more
I enjoyed this much more that I thought I would. Surprisingly relevant to me, although I was a child and not a coder during the 90's. Lots of self-reinvention. More poignant than I expected. The ending felt a little tacked on (but 90% of endings feel this way to me), but otherwise I liked this a lot.more
Microserfs was extremely odd. It's mix of random information (the subconscious file), strange insignificant events, and mixes of satire and seriousness made it hard to become deeply connected to any of the characters.While it was a fun look at the geek culture of the 90s, it just felt empty. The approach to storytelling was interesting, but probably not worth another read. Significant not so much for it's story, but for its subject.more
-With his nose to the zeitgeist, the author of Generation X again examines the angst of the white-collar, under-30 set in this entertaining tale of computer techies who escape the serfdom of Bill Gates's Microsoft to found their own multimedia company. The story is told through the online journal of Danielu@microsoft.com, an affable, insomniac, 26-year-old aspiring code writer. Together with his girlfriend Karla, a mousy shiatsu expert with a penchant for Star Trekky aphorisms, and a tight clique of maladjusted, nose-to-the-grindstone housemates, he relocates to a Lego-adorned office in Palo Alto, Calif., to develop a product called Object Oriented Programming (Oop!), a form of virtual Lego. Much of the story concerns the the Oop! staff's efforts to raise capital and "have a life" amid 18-hour work days. Dan's journal, like much prose on the Internet, abounds in typos, encrypted text, emoticons-:) for happy and :( for sad-and random snippets of information, a format that suits Copland's disjointed, soundbite-heavy fiction. Yet the randomness and non linearity of cyberspace hobble narrative. Amid endless digital chitchat and pop-philosophy, this novel's more serious ruminations about the physical and social alienation of life on the Information Superhighway never achieve any real complexity. Coupland would repeat this formula with JPod but it is what he knows best and so goes the writing. The banter and random life philosophies spouted by the characters is carried throughout the book and it is that more than anything that serves to cripple the narrative even as its purpose is to move it forward.more
I was expecting this to be pure satire, but it is actually quite a serious novel, trying to go beyond the stereotype of the "geek" and look at the emotional lives of the people who worked in American software companies in the 1990s. Obviously, any novel that takes up with concepts like "information superhighway" is going to look quaintly old-fashioned 15 years later. That distancing effect is enhanced for non-American readers by the flood of cultural references to American food products and TV shows we've only vaguely heard of. Coupland's computer-geeks turn out, slightly disappointingly, to be rather normal young people who find themselves confronted with the usual hazards of growing up: deciding what to wear, finding a partner, dealing with parents, finding somewhere to live, coping with illness, etc. If they are changing the world, then they are doing it in a somewhat absurd and peripheral way (developing a computer game involving Lego blocks). So, in the end, it turns out to be just a perfectly normal Bildungsroman with a bit of fancy computer language thrown in to make it look experimental.more
Near perfect in form, presentation and emotional drain. A handful of similarly quirky but unqiue characters handle similarly quirky but unique situations through a variety of historical, current and futuristic technologies, all while building a LEGO simulator that will put their new gaming company on the map. Great portrayl of Bill Gates and the Microsoft culture, as well as the campuses and lifestyles of a variety of other tech companies of the time. Fairly unique in presentation, often incorporating a literal reprinting of computer-related topics presented in each chapter, including the main character's computer's "sub-conscious" files acting as barriers between chapters. Taught me many a random factoid - the amounts of chemicals in the human body and the various uses for them, the body as a form of memory, flatland foods - and many a life lesson - why talking to someone through "license plate" speak can be the most heartbreaking and hopeful communication in the world. Touching, honest, hilarious and surprisingly warm look at the computer industry, nerds, and the Silicon Valley.more
Required reading for geeks, especially those from a pre Windows 98 era. Also good for lovers of binary, dos, linux ascii, computer programming and geeky snack foods.more
Group of MSFT employees get bored & move to Silicon Valley to join a startup. First 50 pages of the book are great, then it just gets duller, and duller. Good start, average finish.more
Even though it's over 10 years old, this book captures like no other the spirit and the lives of technology people, or geeks, to make it simpler. This is really a book about relationships and feelings, and it is very easy to get caught up in the story, especially for those of us living in Silicon Valley.more
Microserfs was my introduction to Coupland, and what a favorable meeting. His sarcastic, often time caustic, way of writing is perfect for a "Gen-Xer" like me.more
I have to be fair: maybe I would have liked this book more if I'd read it when it first came out. It seems so concerned with capturing the mid-90s Silicon Valley "Zeitgeist" that I'm sure I'm missing out by reading it a decade after the Zeit. But still, it seems like a book I would not have enjoyed even at the time, because the principal pleasure comes from recognition (hey, I watch the Simpsons and eat Kraft singles too! I'm such a nerd!). I don't read books for the pleasure of recognising pop culture references and feeling as if I therefore fit into a group; I read books to learn more about the world and the other people in it. This book tried to provide some of that with its frequent pop-psychology moments, but it wasn't enough. And for me the ending was very contrived. I know it's just a light comedy, and if it was really funny I wouldn't care about any number of plot deficiencies or annoying pop-culture references. But I didn't laugh out loud all the way through; the best it raised for me was a wry smile. I suppose I'm just a miserable sod.more
For a while this was my favorite book. My mother picked it up for me from a library book sale because "I like computers." So it took me a while to read it, but I'm glad I did, for many reasons.For one thing, it seems to have captured the early- to mid-nineties nerd zeitgeist well. As someone who missed out on it (a bit before my time), I'm jealous of those who got to experience computing just as it became popular and before it became old hat.As the title indicates, this book follows a group of characters who work at Microsoft. They're all very quirky, but they all speak exactly the same way (Ok, all of Coupland's characters talk in the same way).It's a very light and funny book and I've read it a few times. It was also my gateway to Coupland's other work, most of which I think is superior to this. It's also a very touching book (I thought) that manages to stay entertaining throughout. If you haven't read Coupland before, he manages to pack in a lot of very interesting little anecdotes and musings that you'll think about for a while after you read the book. So although its light reading on par with most pop books, it also has some enduring value.Two complaints:1. Dialogue is homogenous. (See above)2. Every chapter has a page of "stream of consciousness" text. It's fun the first one or two chapters you see it, but it gets old and kind of pretentious quickly.Nonetheless, neither complaint is sufficient to bring down the rating.Highly recommended for those looking for an easy read or computer geeks, but I think everyone would enjoy this.more
I read a great deal of negative reviews of this book but I thought it was hillarious! It was like a diary or stream of consousness but there were so many "weird" facts and theories intertwined that it really made me think. I thought the end was very different from the tone of the rest of the book but it really made me think. I wouldnt exactly give it 5 stars because Im trying to be more conservative with stars, but I really enjoyed it!more
This was the book to win over the geek community. Its characters are pulled straight outta Redwood, and the spirit of the novel is precisely that which lifted Silicon Valley so high.The first half is better than the second; with Coupland it often feels like more fun getting to know a character than actually living with one, and this is certainly the case with "Microserfs." Still, it is one of the better books I've read on the subject, and has earned its geek credentials well.more
The best Coupland book by far and the one that really captures an era absolutely superbly. Clever, bright and funny.more
There are dangers working backwards through an author’s catalogue – you may just discover a turkey, and this was one tough bird. The blurb “More one lines than a Woody Allen film” is true and the first half of the novel about computer geeks is quite refreshingly amusing. But the magic fades and the second half of the novel is just plain hard work. I had to reduce myself to 10-page batches to get to the end.If you want to read a piece of social history concerning vacuity in Silicon Valley during the 90’s, and a prophecy regarding the technocrash of the early naughties, read this. On the other hand, if you want to read a good Coupland novel, read Hey Nostradamus! It’s a masterpiece.more
I love this book. I worked in computing for some years and have friends who do so still, and this crazy world is not so far from reality. One of the few books I can read several times with enjoyment.more
The first time I read this book was for a postmodern fiction class in college. I think I was the only person in the class who liked the book, because I seemed to be the only one who got the humor or identified with the characters. It has been one of my favorites ever since. I wish I could read it again for the first time. I remember laughing out loud so many times on my first reading. It's still funny, of course, but not nearly as much as it was when it was fresh. The ending gets me every time, though. I love the way the whole thing comes together, and all the technological and philosophical discussion ties into the very human, very emotional story.more
first line (of the preface): "On a cool spring night in Savannah, my mother is walking."first line (of the first chapter): "I stood alone outside our house in deep blue twilight."A book with classic literary themes: coming of age; mother-daughter relationships; vampires....I was disappointed with the ending until I learned that Hubbard's written a sequel, The Year of Disappearances. I enjoyed the first one, and its interesting take on vampirism, enough that I'll likely pick up the second sometime soon.I wonder whether this will be a trilogy or an ongoing series...?more
One of my fave Coupland books. Entertaining from beginning to end.more
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