Microserfs by Douglas Coupland

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Helllllo readers, hope you’re happy bunnies. I’m currently losing my life to Sims 4. I recently bought my first laptop and the first thing I did was load up Sims 4 and then dedicate almost a week to playing it. So, my reading has been a little slow but I’ve got a brilliant book to bring today – so without further Lizzo Sims delay onto the book!

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 underneath closed doors) and fearfully scan the company email to see what the great Bill might be thinking and whether he is going to “flame” one of them. Seizing the chance to be innovators instead of cogs in the Microsoft machine, this intrepid bunch strike out on their own to form a high-tech start-up company named Oop! in Silicon Valley.

Funny, illuminating and ultimately touching, Microserfs is the story of one generation’s very strange and claustrophobic coming of age.


I was looking for a line to sum up this book really easily and I found this on Goodreads that kind of works perfectly.

Microserfs reads like a time capsule crossed with a nerds-only Breakfast Club.

There you go – stop the review there. I’m kidding. The book follows the Microsoft geeks who were part of the early nineties technology boom. Dan, our narrator works at Microsoft with a set of other programmers that make up our tale. Telling the life of living within the Microsoft bubble under the watchful gaze of Bill, the group decide to leave and start-up their own company. We follow this group of wonderfully geeky characters into the unknown, away from the safety of Microsoft.

So, in terms of writing the style is very short and snappy. The paragraphs told in a diary style helps to propel the story forward and their geeky personalities are perfectly delivered through that. Mixed in with Star Trek references, buying their clothes at the gap, and the constant stresses of leaving the comfortable hug of Microsoft the story is delightful. Every so often the writing also takes a much more technical style with pages of gargon text. But I loved it. With it’s geekery, it’s 90’s feel and it’s honest writing it’s brilliant.

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Dan, our narrator is the perfect character for taking us through the trials and tribulations of the group. Although a little nerdy he’s written as like a friend to the reader. He tells us the ways that each of the characters interact, the ways they found themselves winding up at Microsoft, their strengths and  more importantly their weaknesses. The author is clever as he slowly feeds up information as we finding ourselves fitting in with his group of friends – it’s not plot heavy so the inclusion of this helps to bring the narrative together. We also get to see him grow through the book – getting a girlfriend, his relationships with his parents in times of crisis and his own struggle with how to live his life. During these passages there is a lot of emotion woven in which off-sets the technical writing brilliantly.

So overall did I enjoy – pretty sure it’s a pretty obvious yes. Microserfs is a tale of 90’s geek culture mixed in with a truly engaging tale of a group of friends. The journal entries keep the book moving, the fact it’s not plot heavy means that it feels fresh even though it is very, very 90’s. The quips and humor woven in make it a fun read and the narrator is perfect. I know T struggled with this a little but I for one will be reading it all over again soon.




6 thoughts on “Microserfs by Douglas Coupland

  1. Nicole.Ilene says:

    I was really really tempted to get Sims 4, I remember playing Sims 1. I only have the third, which I’ll probably stick with for now.
    This book sounds good! Since reading Ready Player One a couple years ago, I’ve been wanting to read more ‘geek’ inspired stories. 🙂

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