Microserfs
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Microserfs

3.87 of 5 stars 3.87  ·  rating details  ·  17,123 ratings  ·  642 reviews
Narrated in the form of a Powerbook entry by Dan Underwood, a computer programmer for Microsoft, this state-of-the-art novel about life in the '90s follows the adventures of six code-crunching computer whizzes. Known as "microserfs," they spend upward of 16 hours a day "coding" (writing software) as they eat "flat" foods (such as Kraft singles, which can be passed undernea...more
Paperback, 371 pages
Published 1995 by Harper Perennial
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Joel
Jun 08, 2011 Joel rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Joel by: Legomania
I just chose this as my favorite book in the 30 Days Book Challenge on Facebook, so I might as well review it, even though "favorite book" is a nebulous distinction at best and "what's your favorite book?" is a stupid fucking question and I am afraid this might be a sentimental favorite more than anything else.

So yeah, I read this when I was 14 or 15. I bought it because it had a neat mirror cover with a Lego man. I didn't know Douglas Coupland was the voice of a generation, and anyway, it wasn'...more
Punk
Fiction. A little slice of the mid-nineties, Microsoft, and Silicon Valley.

This was was my first Coupland book and it wasn't what I was expecting. Apparently I was prepared for shallow postmodernism or something smugly impressed by its own cynicism. I don't know where I got that idea, but this is an optimistic book, full of human moments, love and friendship, and the things that drive us to succeed. I was surprised at how sweet it could be at times.

It's also got plenty of computer talk: program...more
Jayme
Reasons why I love both this book and Douglas Coupland:

1. "I sandpapered the roof of my mouth with three bowls of Cap'n Crunch--had raw gobbets of mouth-beef dangling onto my tongue all day." (Who hasn't had that happen to them? And yet, nobody could have said it awesomer.)

2. I learned 1410 *C = the melting point of silicon.

3. This book is totally the original Big Bang Theory.

4. Dated references to things like Doom and Myst.

5. I enjoy reading nerdy lists of things, like which school is the nerdi...more
RandomAnthony
Douglas Coupland’s Microserfs reads like a time capsule crossed with a nerds-only Breakfast Club. Focused on the California geek population who powered the late eighties/early nineties technology boom, the novel focuses so much on time and place that it could arguably be classified as historical. The CD-ROM and early internet references seem, like an AOL disc or heavy monitor, both quaint and annoying. Coupland transcends the period piece nature of Microserfs about 60% of the time, especially wh...more
Steve
This book is one of my all-time favorites, a bildungsroman of the techie world set between its two 1990s axes: Microsoft and Silicon Valley. My friends hear me make quips from this book far too often, perhaps my favorite being "Microsoft hired 3000 people last year and you know not all of them were gems."

The quick summary is: boy goes to work for Microsoft, boy leaves Microsoft for startup in Silicon Valley, and lives and learns as he and his friends -- his coworkers -- struggle to ship product....more
Jackie
For Microserfs, I am straddling these two reader-type extremes: those who know nothing about geektech culture, and those who 100% techie, geeky nerds. I am in between. I feel this is the right place to be, because the book evoked lots of "Yeah...it really IS that way, isn't it?" and "Oh those geeks!" Yet I'm not so into the culture that I feel it was misrepresented.

I can't ever seem to attempt to write an approximation of some sort of "objective" review (lulz) so I'll just leave you with my idi...more
Joe
When I was in high school, I read Generation X and Life After God and was thrilled by these tales of wry, vibrant, lost characters who fought for real meaning when their culture caused them to shrug at tragedy and love and weep over reruns and advertising campaigns (I was a pretty lonely teenager, obviously.) When Microserfs came out, I remember picking it up at the bookstore a few times (maybe this was '95 or '96?) and thinking, "Oh, it's this story about the 'information-superhighway' with all...more
Karl H.
I was reading Microserfs, a novel about coders in the 1990’s, when I suddenly had a great idea. What if I used technology to write down my thoughts and totally zany random observations while I was reading the book? Then I could post my e-thoughts onto a Goodreads review board and get all of the likes and +1’s. This struck me as very one point oh, so here it is.

Random thought: Replace IBM with Microsoft, Microsoft with Apple, and Bill for Steve and you’ve got Microserfs for the 2000s.

If Microse...more
Adrienne
umm... this book was disappointing. it is boring and boring and boring. i read it 'cause i wanted something light after all the heaviness of am homes.

there's a scene that i can't resist pointing out where somehow someone sends the main characters all an email about how every multiple of six minus one is a prime number and they all had to waste work time proving or disproving it. but. yeah. it is dumb. it takes about 2 seconds to disprove because it never should have been mentioned in the first...more
René
A novel in journal form about a group of Microsoft employees who leave the company to found a Silicon valley startup.

Douglas Coupland is what I think of as a zeitgeist writer. He captures the spirit of the times we live in by setting his novels in those places that history will look back upon as trend-setting, avant-garde cultures. Silicon Valley in the 1990’s is a prime candidate, if not the clear winner. Though it hasn’t lost any of its luster, Silicon Valley doesn’t hold the same power over m...more
Oscar Calva
Even though he's not any relevant anymore and hasn't been for a long time, I´m done for good with Coupland: second book read, second one I really disliked. This book has been sitting in my bookshelf for too long, and since it has always been sort of a cult-book about the tech-industry, and since I needed some light reading not too deep, I decided to give it a try.

Douglas Coupland is a talented writer, he knows how to write a book, no doubt about it; why he decided to use his talents to write th...more
Shinynickel
I read several books in a row that made me cry, and this was one of them.

God knows why - it's not like Coupland is attempting to write a great tragedy. I think I just really liked the characters, liked the way they interacted and how much they cared about each other. The book does a great job capturing the Silicon Valley nerd culture in the 90s, how it seemed to exist suspended in its own bubble world. It's science fictional without being science fiction - showing the way lives can come to be m...more
Patty
May 19, 2007 Patty rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: snarky gen-x'ers
Such fun... I especially loved the idea of someone locking himself in his office and only eating flat foods that can be inserted under the door. I think of this book every time I open a slice of American cheese!
Louise
Reading Microserfs for the first time right now is a strange feeling. Parts of it are so distinctly 90s dot-com culture that I feel like I'm watching people through a time warp. It's as if I had gone into a time machine and emerged 20 years in the past.

But despite the progress we've made in technology, the ups and downs of Microsoft and Apple, and the age of the internet, some things never really do change. One of these things are geeks. The characters in Microserfs are multi-dimensional, intros...more
Nicky Dierx
I kind of hated this book. It was dull. It was dull beyond anything I can put into words. I can see somewhere in the mess of randomness that makes up the protagonists journal entries where you'd find seeds of the supposed generation x cultural manifesto this thing is touted as. But since I'm not from that generation perhaps it's lost on me. I'm also not sure why it's still considered such a classic, given that everything in it is a dated time capsule almost entirely irrelevant to the world today...more
Stephan van der Linde
Microserfs is one of Coupland's most populair books with a certain cult-status.

The thing which I not really liked, was that that this book contains too much software-terms. A typical "Douglas" with different kind of funny people and their singular qualities.
Typical "Coupland's" were as well the dialogue's and the way the characters go on with each other....When I read it a few years ago, I can remember it was just too sweet for me.

Maybe it was not the right moment to read, right then.

I can rem...more
Matt
I thoroughly enjoyed this novel centered around a group of brainy computer code writers in the early 90s. Coupland infuses pop culture and philosophical musings into a tale that begins at Microsoft's Redmond, Wash., campus and ends in Silicon Valley. Parts near the end were genuinely moving, to my surprise. The diary format made this a very fast read, and references to 1990s technology at the dawn of the oft-referenced Information Superhighway seem like just another part of history at this point...more
P. Aaron Potter
I probably shouldn't rate this book as highly as I have, out of respect for those who didn't actually live through it.

For those of us who grew up in the 70s and 80s, though, and who were of that small fraction of the population who were in on the ground floor of the digital revolution, as it transformed from lawless frontier to settled territory, Coupland's book was like a flag waving for a country which we hadn't quite known we were citizens of. These days, of course, absolutely everyone is onl...more
John
Douglas Coupland is one of my favourite authors in the world. His first novel was Generation X, which is actually where that phrase comes from, and in all his books he's got a really unique take on the world. It's not hard to find beauty in nature, which is what a lot of (most?) novelists fall back on when they want to find beauty in the world. Coupland, a Canadian suburban boy, is a product of his time and place, and he seeks to find beauty in the un-idealised world that most of us (or, I shoul...more
Tommy Anderson
Microserfs. The book is about a bunch of nerds working at Microsoft in the 1990’s. They quickly realize that they have no lives. The intended audience is most definitely nerds or people interested in the lives of nerds during the prime of Silicon Valley. The purpose of this book is to shine a light into the minds of people behind all the computer software. They’re people too!

The thesis of the book is not revealed until the very last page in the book. Life is not about having lots of money or “ha...more
Suzanne Stackle
Being I have not read this book since it was published in 1995. And it being a novel heavily based on technology and it's industry of the mid-nineties, the book is dated. Email use is actually explained and the internet is referred to "The Information Superhighway". (Not really the "Self-Promoting Surface Streets" it turned out to be.)

With all that said, I am finding it difficult to actually think about this book as a novel. It seemed more like an immersion in commerce/industry and it's affects...more
Molly
I loved reading this book, set in the mid 1990s just before the internet highway exploded into mainstream America's workplaces and living rooms.

I loved the voice of the main charactar, Daniel, who seemed like somebody I could have known in college or in grad school. I loved his description of the minutiae of the life of people who work 80 plus hours per week coding software and what their little diversions to keep sane said about them as people.

I loved the philosophical explorations of computers...more
Oin
It reads like a very long blog post -- so much so that I feel it couldn't be far removed from a very-detailed autobiography of a Microsoft employee who moved down to Silicon Valley to be part of a startup. I had just moved to Silicon Valley when I read this, and was astonished at how detailed the descriptions of local streets and freeway clovers were; even the description of Fry's in Palo Alto as an oasis of components was so accurate I found it less of a crafted novel and more like an ambling l...more
MiLi
La novela trata sobre un grupo de empleados de Microsoft que deciden darle un giro a su vida abriendo su propia compañía de tecnología. Si bien el argumento puede parecer el de un relato aburrido, las descripciones del autor hacen que cada párrafo valga la pena.

A través de los personajes el autor plantea temas importantes para la sociedad, como la adoración a falsos ídolos, el deseo de pertenecer, la superficialidad y la necesidad de sobresalir. Es cómico y desgarrador a la vez, con una idea muy...more
Otis Chandler
Nov 20, 2006 Otis Chandler rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: geeks
About fads: "language is such technology"

This book is a fascinating look into early 90's software culture. When Microsoft and Bill ruled the world, and silicon valley was just gaining momentum.

Its amazing the changes the "information superhighway" brought us! I think Social Networking is born from the lack of geeks (those who make software) having a life in the 90's. These geeks, bogged down in technology (internet, cell phones, email, dvd's, movies, tv shows), found a way to socialize within...more
Nate D
All of the Douglas Coupland books I've read describe a smooth chronologiocal curve of decline from bold, inventive beginnings to trite, heavy-handed melodramatics. This was early enough (1995, 3rd novel) to be pretty tolerable, but it is the last: by 1998 he'd release the completely insufferable Girlfriend in a Coma.

Oh well. I'd say that his post All Families Are Psychotic stuff might be better, except I've heard that in JPod, he wrote himself into the story to deus ex machina straight up and sh...more
Jenne
Well, 1995 me was a huuuge fan of this book and found it very moving and wise.
2014 me, on the other hand, finds it slightly embarrassing but still charming.
Dana
This one all comes down to story. For awhile, I wasn't sure where it was all leading. It felt a little slow and slogging. Perhaps because I've lived something just on the outside of this and chose against it. Which I suppose is a great endorsement for how true it is, but for me personally that part was a bit unnerving.

However, I loved the story of it. It was one of those stories that you don't really realize you're picking up. I was focusing so much more on the main characters day to day life t...more
Michelle Pod
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Daniel
I read this while I worked at Microsoft, right after the dot.com "bubble" collapsed. It was interesting to read a story with such a positive attitude about start-ups and venture capital and striking out for terra incognita. Of course, the best part about the book is Coupland's handle on dialog and character, and his observations about pop culture. I recall one exchange in which one of the women criticizes the pink motif that Toys R Us uses in the girl's toy section.
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1886
Douglas Coupland is Canadian, born on a Canadian Air Force base near Baden-Baden, Germany, on December 30, 1961. In 1965 his family moved to Vancouver, Canada, where he continues to live and work. Coupland has studied art and design in Vancouver, Canada, Milan, Italy and Sapporo, Japan. His first novel, Generation X, was published in March of 1991. Since then he has published nine novels and sever...more
More about Douglas Coupland...
Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture Girlfriend in a Coma JPod Hey Nostradamus! All Families are Psychotic

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“...and when you meet someone and fall in love, and they fall in love with you, you ask them "Will you take my heart-- stains and all?" and they say "I will," and they ask you the same question and you say, "I will," too.” 82 likes
“I saw doves and I thought they were rocks, but they were asleep. My breath made them stir, and they rocks took flight, the earth exploding... and my only thought was that I wanted you to see them, too.” 43 likes
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