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Microserfs [Paperback]

Douglas Coupland
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
Price: 8.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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Book Description

15 Mar 2004

From the acclaimed author of Hey Nostradamus! comes a wonderful comic novel with ‘more one-liners than a decade of Woody Allen films’ (Guardian), about the scramble for love and success in a brave new world…

Bill is wise.
Bill is kind.
Bill is benevolent.
Bill, Be My Friend… Please!

At computer giant Microsoft, Dan, Susan, Abe, Todd and Bug are struggling to get a life. The job may be super cool, the pay may be astronomical, but they're heading nowhere, and however hard they work, however many shares they earn, they're never going to be as rich as Bill. And besides, with all the hours they're putting in, their best relationships are on e-mail. Something's got to give…

Frequently Bought Together

Microserfs + JPod + Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture
Price For All Three: 20.87

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Product details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; New Ed edition (15 Mar 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007179812
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007179817
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 240,787 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Amazon Review

Microserfs is not about Microsoft--it's about programmers who are searching for lives. A hilarious but frighteningly real look at geek life in the nineties, Coupland's book manifests a peculiar sense of how technology affects the human race and how it will continue to affect all of us. Microserfs is the hilarious journal of Dan, an ex-Microsoft programmer who, with his coder comrades, is on a quest to find purpose in life. This isn't just fodder for techies. The thoughts and fears of the not-so-stereotypical characters are easy for any of us to relate to, and their witty conversations and quirky view of the world make this a surprisingly thought-provoking book.

"... just think about the way high-tech cultures purposefully protract out the adolescence of their employees well into their late 20s, if not their early 30s," muses one programmer. "I mean, all those Nerf toys and free beverages! And the way tech firms won't even call work 'the office,' but instead, 'the campus'. It's sick and evil." END --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


'An hilarious, moving read… Brilliantly observed, sharply written and constantly entertaining.' NME

'A funny and stridently topical novel. Coupland continues to register the buzz of his generation.' Jay McInerney, New York Times

'The writing is astonishing, the emotions genuine and the characters fully formed… Microserfs shows yet again Coupland's ability to create rather than imitate.' Irish Times

'A witty novel with real heart.' Sunday Telegraph

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Geek novel that is very readable 2 Feb 2005
By A Customer
Although written in 1995, the book is very readable and not dated even after a decade. The book is a tale of a communal house of Microsoft coders who all want more that the work/sleep/work routine. They join a start up software company aimed at making a software Lego modelling program. Slowly their real lives develop. Plenty of non-tech humour as well as a few computer jokes. Written as though it is a diary some parts are moving which means the author managed to reel you into his imaginary world enough that you care about the characters. It is that good it makes me want to read his other books.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fun book 17 July 2005
By LFF12
I really enjoyed this book and was surprised to find that it hadn't really dated (except of course, it was written back in the days when option grants really were worth money and didn't just leave you marooned for years with worthless underwater options). Anyway I loved the eccentricity of the characters: the fads for "flat" foods, the long hours work, the familiar, god-like worship of the CEO (I've worked in at least one company with a similar mentality), and the emerging angst from the emptiness of it all.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good but dated. 10 Nov 2003
By LFF12
I read this book a few years ago while working for another large corp with an even worse set of corporate values than Microsoft. I think a lot of the book tries to explore the mind-numbing but heavy handed discipline of the IT world. It also suggests the massive levels of exploitation of brilliance, coupled with the obvious burn-out for their rewards.
Where the book is weakest is that it predated the tech sector meltdown and so the perceived reward of the old days - the vested options, read like something from another world. However, I liked the characters, and I found the way in which Coupland engages his characters to use their own talents great. I think this was the whole point of the book - that modern corporations take away ownership of end products and subsume individual identities mercilessly.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This book becomes like an old friend 15 Nov 2000
By A Customer
Some books I find funny, some I find sad. Some books have really sad endings, others make you feel really good at the end. This does none of these. And then all of them. Finishing this book was like saying goodbye to an old friend. It was a rollercoaster visit, and you enjoy every minute, but you are sad to seem them go. For a 'computer geek' like myself, it provides lots of laughter, and some very close to the bone truths, while also providing a very in-depth look at society at large. I would recommend this to anyone, particularly if they are involved in the computer industry in any way.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My favourite book 18 May 2000
By drshok
This book sums up much about my life. Even though it's set on the West coast of the USA and I Ilive in Europe, it comes closer to reflecting the life situations and thoughts of me and my generation than anything else I've read. It's also much the best Coupland book avoiding too much wierdness . Buy it.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb! 19 Oct 1998
By A Customer
This is one of the best books I have ever read. Coupland is a fine author, and this book perfectly captures the spirit of the 1990s. Describing the lives of a group of disgruntled Microsoft employees, who leave to found their own software company, the book deals brilliantly with human interaction (and conflict) with technology. The section in which the female programmers discuss their periods in front of their male comrades is a real eye-opener for us uninformed guys... "Women have *chunky* days? Are guys supposed to know this stuff? I am experiencing fear" (287).
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars You'll hate to love this... 14 Dec 2006
It was only a couple of years ago that I was sitting in the pub with a guy from my course at University discussing the merits of Coupland's breathtaking 'Generation X'. My drinking buddy had read it as part of his A-Level English course and we were discussing the merits of the book - "poignant", "existentialistic", "thought-provoking", "depressing", "moving". It was then that another drinking companion of ours stepped in and asked "So what exactly is the book about?". Inevitable silence fell. Coupland has the enviable ability to write about absolutely nothing, yet disguise it as a well-crafted story - look at "Generation X", look at "Life After God", then look at "Microserfs".

No matter how much you detest this book, how shallow or one-dimensional you feel the characters are, how little you feel the story actually develops, this is still an undeniably brilliant piece of literature. It is not the characters that give the book it's purpose - it is the ideas that are hidden within the prose. On reading this I embraced the randomness of the story - both by appreciating the way that the syntax is presented on the page and the idiosyncrasies of the characters. Without accepting this lack of coherance - you cannot appreciate what the story is REALLY about. The truth is, on reading this I got the impression that Coupland was using this book as an excuse to expound his personal philosophies - to raise the questions that he wanted to ask in his other novels but never quite found the opportunity.

For me, an avid Coupland fan, this book ended not on a sad note, but on a triumphant note. Throughout the course of the book, our "microserfs" struggle to really see any purpose in the job that they do - there seems to be no intrinsic value in what they achieve, only ever instrumental value.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars struggled to finish it
I've read most of Mr Coupland's books, but I've been putting this one off for some time. The premise just didn't really grab me, and on a cursory glance I found the writing to be... Read more
Published 13 months ago by Mr. N. J. Milton
5.0 out of 5 stars great read
a good holiday book. i am a fan and enjoy his work. the book was as good as new and good value.
Published on 31 Aug 2011 by N. Martin
5.0 out of 5 stars On my top ten of Books I have ever read
I first read this book in 1999. It was my first Coupland novel, I didn't want to like it but I did. It spoke to me and remains a firm favourite book of mine. Read more
Published on 3 Oct 2009 by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Nerd humour but perhaps not for everyone
I think the great thing about Coupland is that in this and JPod he really makes the whole idea of the nerd accessible. Read more
Published on 11 May 2009 by Mr. A. M. Laffey
3.0 out of 5 stars OK
Interesting idea. But it's all very cold-hearted. Coupland hasn't really found much humanity in his characters. Read more
Published on 14 Oct 2008 by NickR
2.0 out of 5 stars Microserfs
I was very disappointed with this book - I loved JPod and several of the reviews suggested that Microserfs was better. Not so. Read more
Published on 22 Feb 2008 by gerty guinea
5.0 out of 5 stars Coupland's best
In my opinion, this is Coupland's best, probably because I personally related to the main character most.

But a great story, well written and genuinely funny. Read more
Published on 23 Nov 2007 by N. E. Mathers
5.0 out of 5 stars Techies of the world unite
Despite been a bit dated this book is still a classic, a very funny and almost poignant look at the tech industry. Read more
Published on 3 Nov 2005
2.0 out of 5 stars Iused to lover her but i had to kill her....
....ok i never used to love this book but def enjoyed it when i read it at uni...
what happened? Read more
Published on 27 Jun 2005 by Mr. G. Spicer
5.0 out of 5 stars hilarious
i stole this book from an exboyfriend and was laughing out loud. its brilliant.
Published on 13 Dec 2004
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