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4.1 out of 5 stars44
4.1 out of 5 stars
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on 2 February 2005
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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on 10 November 2003
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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on 14 December 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. Yet at the end, when Dan's mother has her stroke and cannot communicate, technology, ironically, comes to their aid... there is light at the end of the tunnel.

For those of you who do not like this book, I doubt it's because you don't understand it... I suspect you dislike it because you understand it FAR TOO WELL
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on 17 July 2005
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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on 15 November 2000
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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on 19 October 1998
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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on 18 May 2000
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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on 4 October 2002
This book should appeal to anyone who have ever owned a computer and tried to tinker with some programming, or know anybody with a computer.
The book takes place in the early 90' and describe what happens when you ignore your life and work instead.
The problems, the people, the jokes, the names and the products are instantly recognisable and you will find yourself laughing and feeling sorry for the poor computer nerds who are emerging from their cubes to have a life for the first time.
Douglas Coupland have yet again written a book that hits the spot. Cudos
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on 19 June 2013
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 overly detailed and jargony. I finally gave it a go when I saw a copy in a booksale for £1. Once you get into it, the first third is very readable, and, although a lot of the references were lost on me, I did laugh in places. Once loudly. By the time I got to page 246 the inanity of it all began to drag, and I placed it on my pile of books to go to the charity bin. It's only that I'd been forewarned by another review that the book had a poignant ending that I picked it up and soldiered on through. There's just not enough plot to keep you interested, and a lot of the observations just aren't that profound. As for the menstrual discussions, it may have added some authenticity to his female characters, but that was maybe a touch unnecessary, in the same way as dedicating a page to smegma would be. J-Pod, which is an update of this book of sorts, is a much more pared down novel and much more artfully (and craftily) carries Doug's message. Whereas Microserfs shows us a more worthwhile application for coders, bringing in COupland's trademark humanity right at the final moment, J-Pod cunningly tricks the reader into finding a better outlet for their creativity. If Doug was an employee in Microserfs, in J-Pod he is the boss.
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on 11 December 1998
This book is really about integrity. About how a group of friends stick together through thick and thin, whether comfortable as Microsoft employees or in the biting reality of setting up their own company; how they grow together and remain essentially honest to each other, and themselves. This is all despite a backdrop of astute 90's cultural commentary, and dazzling one-liners that are dropped in like casually discarded diamonds. Breathtaking.
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