I just finished reading Ellen Ullman’s The Bug, a book about a computer bug (catastrophic, tends to appear during demos, but hard to reproduce and almost impossible to find) that drives a programmer crazy. It’s a really scary book for a programmer to read, because anybody who has been in this business for a while has at least looked down that road. Many parts of the book are almost too familiar, such as the discussions of programmers’ tendencies toward punning and ego conflicts or the portrayal of faux bonhomie in meetings. Other parts, mostly having to do with the protagonists’ struggles with sex and relationships, seem forced and artificial. Nonetheless, it was a good read. It’s cool to see a novel that contains whole pages of code, if nothing else.

I need a change of pace now, though. The book I read before this was Iain Banks’s Consider Phlebas which also ends rather badly, so now I need to read something with a bit less doom and gloom. It’s not quite as bad as when I read The Coming Plague and Making Monsters back to back – at least the current pair are fiction – but it’s close.