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3.88  ·  Rating details ·  23,357 ratings  ·  921 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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Michelle "I heart Lisa Computers

This is my computer. There are many like it, but this one is mine. My computer is my best friend. It is my life. I must master …more
"I heart Lisa Computers

This is my computer. There are many like it, but this one is mine. My computer is my best friend. It is my life. I must master it, as I must master my life. Without me, my computer is useless. Without my computer, I am useless. I must use my computer true. I must compute faster than my enemy who is trying to kill me. I must outcompute him before he outcomputes me. I will. Before God, I swear this creed. My computer and myself are defenders of this country. We are masters of our enemy. We are the saviours of my life. So be it until there is no enemy, but peace. Amen.

Tinned Peaches Yttrium San Fran"

(I'm answering my own question because I knew the answer and thought it would be a worthwhile contribution to this page.) (less)

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Average rating 3.88  · 
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 ·  23,357 ratings  ·  921 reviews

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Nov 20, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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'
Petra X is in CitizenM, Boston, coolest hotel ever
Edited to include more flat foods at the request of an obsessive nerdy friend.

Highly amusing little book of coders all aged 32, mentally if not in years, being obsessed with programming and living their messy student-type lives shaped by this consuming passion.

The idea of flat foods that can be slipped under a door for their more Asperger's type friend who cannot leave his room until all the code is written is funny.
Kraft cheese slices
Fruit leather
Melted icecream (does this count?)
Melba toast
Apr 04, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Karl H.
Jun 20, 2010 rated it did not like it
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
Feb 21, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
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.
Bryan--Pumpkin Connoisseur
Although this book is of its time, there is a high nostalgia factor here, at least for me, especially as I was nearly the same age as the author when he was writing in 1995. The story of several software developers in the middle 90s who form a kind of surrogate family and look for meaning in their lives is far from the experiences with which I was familiar, but the milieu is the same. And by that I mean the culture of the time rather than the place. What makes this different from, say, a film li ...more
Sep 14, 2010 rated it liked it
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
Jan 26, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Oscar Calva
Sep 21, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: do-not-bother
Even though he's not 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 these
Jun 12, 2011 rated it really liked it
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 " 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
Ken Ryu
Sep 27, 2020 rated it liked it
Uggh! As I type this review from my HP laptop on a hazy Sunday afternoon in Campbell, CA, I am reminded of 80s comedian Dennis Miller. You remember SNL cast member Dennis Miller? He's the snarky, pop-culture referencing smart ass that is funny in small doses, but grows tiresome quickly. With a pompous, look-at-all-the-esoteric-details-I-can-spew-out-in-rapid-fire-bursts pseudo-hip/intellectual flair, Miller consumes all the oxygen in a room and returns minutia and a few chuckles.

Coupland's band
Aug 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I was just sucked right into it. The characters just talk and suddenly you are inside the story and you can't get out and you just watch them have lives. I love every single one of them.

Insightful. This book is nerds and geeks thinking, talking about many things, out loud, and I am a nerd and a geek myself, and I don't have friends (except one) who listens to me when I am in my "Philosophical Mode" and I just crave having friends like Dan's, all of whom will tolerate - no, join - me in talki
Jun 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Mar 22, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
Aug 27, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
Feb 01, 2008 rated it it was ok
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
Valentín Muro
Sep 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
I just dropped the book on the table and I'm thinking of rereading many of its parts. It's amazing how much one can learn from a work of fiction so cleverly crafted and so loyal to the culture it intends to explore. What Coupland achieved is a truly fascinating take on why the Valley ignites so much obsession, even decades before HBO's Silicon Valley came along.

The way Dan and his friends are portrayed is worryingly relatable to many of us who in any level deal with technology and its culture. T
Nov 16, 2019 rated it liked it
My wife read Coupland's 2004 novel, "Eleanor Rigby" and found it to be pretty good. I learnt that he is both an author and a "post-modern" artist. I often see Douglas Coupland books in the scifi section of the bookstore. 1995's "Microserfs" was about coders working for Micrsoft in the 1990's. My son is currently a coder working for Microsoft. I thought, perhaps this might give some insight of his world. This is not scifi, but rather, techfi. Though I've never worked in an office cubical, am not ...more
May 17, 2007 rated it really liked it
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!
Nicky Dierx
Nov 03, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Amy Bailey
Apr 21, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: book-club
I was left with the feeling that nothing actually happened until the last ten pages of this book, and I never connected with any of these characters.
Feb 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
Microserfs by Douglas Coupland
Nine out of 10

Microserfs is included on The Guardian 1,000 Books Everyone Must Read list - - that I find very interesting for most of the books I have read recently come from it and have been entertaining, captivating, rewarding and worthwhile.

Douglas Coupland is an excellent, modern, imaginative, amusing – in fact, looking to see where the book is placed on the aforementioned list, I thought it could be in the comedy section
L. Farmer
Dec 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Love it.
Stephan van der Linde
Jun 19, 2010 rated it it was ok
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
A snapshot of a time not so long ago, these people are familiar, even if I was never one of them. They are filled, despite their constant craving for some "life" they insist they do not have, with optimism and joy. I don't think I view the modern tech world with that kind of hope and so the whole story reads like one of a bunch of rosy faced kids who have the luxury of not knowing about the current hell world the Internet is today. Oh, for that dream of the nineties!

See, so, at one point, Daniel
Jul 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is a very chill read up until the last quarter, but that last quarter makes this book, without it it's meh. I really enjoyed witnessing the build up from friendship to family between the characters, and that really shines in the finale which is why, I guess, I can't stop talking about it. The characters are solid, and I really like the way Daniel, the narrator (view spoiler) manages to casually capture descriptive details about everything that's going on.
Fascinating insight into the "tech nerd" lifestyle. Well-drawn/engaging ensemble cast of characters, amiably getting on with their lives - working (coding!) chatting, forming relationships and occasionally even having/relating personal feelings (shock, horror!). Style reads almost like a coffee-table book - you could open the book on any page and get the idea pretty quickly. What I liked most was (view spoiler) ...more
It's like Big Bang Theory. Except it's funny. And insightful. And well written.

So, nothing like Big Bang Theory.

Jonathan Fretheim
Feb 05, 2011 rated it really liked it
Re-reading this years later was worthwhile for me after having worked for a giant cult-of-personality-driven tech company and lived in Silicon Valley. As with most of the Coupland books I've read: really seemed like one of those foreign movies that you rent and return half-wound because they're too contrived to be believed, and then real life happens, and you wonder if the Europeans understood everything all along.

Another note: is "fishwich" a Canadianism? Coupland (as always) is dead-on ab
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Guardian Newspape...: Microserfs - December 2018 13 16 Jan 04, 2019 06:33AM  
Goodreads Librari...: Add ISBN13 2 11 May 19, 2017 12:26PM  

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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

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