371 pages
ISBN 0-00-224404-7
DDC C813'.54




Reviewed by Steve Pitt

Steve Pitt is a Toronto-based freelance writer and an award-winning journalist. He has written many young adult and children's books, including Day of the Flying Fox: The True Story of World War II Pilot Charley Fox.


Dan Underwood, a self-proclaimed computer geek, wants a life. He is a
microserf, one of thousands of faceless wage slaves who work at
high-stress, low-income programmer jobs for a major software corporation
based in Seattle. Typical of a serf, Dan’s low salary and long hours
prevent him from forming real human relationships. Dan rents a room in a
home with five other geeks. They are all single, in their mid–20s, and
equally frustrated.

At the invitation of a former housemate, an ultra-geek, they move to
Silicon Valley to help develop a new software program based on the
children’s toy Lego. They abandon the security of the benign
multinational corporation to try and establish a new culture of their

Coupland’s portrait of the 1990s computer culture is highly detailed
and often extremely funny. He packs his prose with pithy observations
about life in the post–1970s slow lane and expresses himself in
microserf jargonese.

Although computers and huge corporations serve as the background for
the book, this is no antitechnology diatribe. Coupland’s protagonists
experience age-old human problems, and their solutions are human as
well. The characters do suffer from a certain similarity of
type—virtually everyone in this book is a highly intelligent, decent
person whose unhappiness stems from loneliness and cultural
stagnation—but this may be a deliberate literary device in a novel
where Lego is more than a product ... it is a metaphor for life.


Coupland, Douglas., “Microserfs,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed May 29, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/1364.