With October's Doctor Sleep nearly behind us, we're going straight for technology and culture in November. Our two fiction and two non-fiction selections are, loosely speaking, about technological evolution, whether that means a new breed of hacker, the philosophy of Microsoft, or an evil future startup that will destroy us all. You've got until October 28th to vote. Make it count.
The Circle by Dave Eggers (2013)
We recently listed The Circle as one of the fall books to check out in 2013, calling it "the story of a woman working at an increasingly powerful and dystopic internet company in California (think Google, Facebook, and Twitter all rolled into one)." Since release, it's been unsurprisingly divisive, with some calling it an out-of-touch screed and others a funny, engagingly written sendup of techno-utopianism.
Microserfs by Douglas Coupland (1995)
Many of Douglas Coupland's books (including the one where he popularized the term "Generation X") look at how work defines us, whether we're studied slackers or ambitious yuppies. Microserfs is a fictional account of several Microsoft coders from the 1990s, living in a frenzied cycle of crunch time and searches for a greater purpose — sometimes as mundane as analyzing the movements of Bill Gates or eating only two-dimensional foods. It's wistful and funny, and you can read a 1995 review of it right here.
The Cuckoo's Egg by Clifford Stoll (1989)
In 1986, sysadmin Clifford Stoll began investigating a minute accounting error at Berkeley's scientific laboratory. Before long, he had found the source of the discrepency: an intruder who had used a few precious minutes of time on the lab's computers. Tracking the hacker led Stoll on an electronic chase to West Germany, where he uncovered a KGB espionage plot. His account of the search, The Cuckoo's Egg, has proved an enduring and eminently readable book about hacking.
Masters of Doom by David Kushner (2003)
Doom and its successors revolutionized video games in the 1990s, and this is the story of the company behind it: Id Software. If you're interested in gaming, it traces the creation of an entire genre, following co-founders John Carmack and John Romero through their careers at Id and (for Romero) the now-shuttered Ion Storm, which produced both the lauded Deus Ex and the notoriously catastrophic Daikatana. If you're not, it's a tale of brilliance, hubris, friendship, loss, fast cars, fast living, and a man with very, very good hair.