Douglas Coupland's Microserfs follows the lives of several friends as they make the big decision whether to stay at Microsoft and continue on with their secure but boring jobs or to take a leap of faith and follow the dreams of Michael, the real genius among them. Michael has an idea. He wants to create a new product.

As the novel opens, the group of friends not only work together at Microsoft, they also share a communal home just outside of Seattle. According to Dan, the narrator, none of them have a life outside of their ridiculously long hours at work. They are earning good money but their sense of adventure and creativity has been muted.

However, the dull life Dan has been leading takes some unexpected turns. He falls in love. His father loses his job. “Bill” (an oblique reference to Bill Gates) sends Michael to California for a conference. These three incidents stimulate change. Dan begins to realize that there is more to life than work. His father is depressed and flies to Seattle. Michael decides that he does not want to go back to Seattle. He writes a letter to his friends and co-workers telling them that he has an idea for a computer game and he needs their help. Will they come to California and help him put it together?

It is in the mid-nineties. Computers games are just budding into a new era of graphics. And “Oop!”, the name of Michael's game, is about to take off. Or at least, the group is hoping so. All but one of the group move down to Silicon Valley. They decide that the excitement of creating something new is worth much more than money.

In the process of their computer adventure, the friends learn that there are other things in life that are a lot more important than secure jobs. They fall in love; come out of the closet; and make babies. They learn to care about one another, touch one another, and lose their fear of opening up their hearts.

Microserfs Extended Summary

Summarizing Coupland's novel Microserfs is both an easy and a difficult task. If the plotline was the focus of the summary, it could probably be stated in a few lines. However, Coupland's novel is nothing close to normal and therefore stating the plotline only would be to ignore everything else that is going on in this novel.

Microserfs is written in mostly short journal-like entries. The narrator, Dan, records his thoughts and observations, which often includes bits and pieces of storyline. To begin with, Dan introduces his co-workers and talks about what it is like to work at Microsoft. Paramount on all the “serfs” minds is the everlasting desire to see "Bill,” or better yet to have "Bill" like and approve of them. In the opening statement, "Bill" has just "flamed" Michael, who reacts by locking himself in his office. Dan and some of the other characters, worry that Michael is not eating and slip food under the door. Michael is the top genius of the group and is a bit socially awkward. As it later turns out, "Bill" has apparently reprimanded Michael because he respects him. A couple days later, "Bill" has sends Michael to Silicon Valley to attend a major meeting. This move will turn out to be the catalyst for major change in the characters' lives.

Aside from their working lives, Dan also writes about the shared home where he lives with Susan, Abe, Todd, Bug, and Michael, all other Microsoft employees. Karla, the woman Dan falls for, lives down the street. When Michael decides to stay in California, Karla moves in the shared home.

Dan thinks a lot about his life but does not do much to change it. He wonders what his brother Jed would be like today if he had not died at age twelve. Dan believes Jed was much more intelligent than he and would have done much more with his life than Dan has accomplished so far. Dan, like most of his roommates, is in his mid-twenties and fears getting older. By the time programmers are thirty most burn out. Thus, computer companies like Microsoft keep hiring people right out of college. The younger set has more energy, drive, and determination. They do not mind the extremely long hours and the fact that they have no lives outside of work. As Dan approaches thirty, he starts thinking more about the rest of his life.

To make matters more...

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