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Ellen Ullman Books In Order

Publication Order of Standalone Novels

The Bug (2003) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
By Blood (2012) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Publication Order of Non-Fiction Books

Close to the Machine (1997) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Life in Code: A Personal History of Technology (2017) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Author Ellen Ullman has worked mainly as a computer programmer, but has also written non fiction books, articles, essays, and novels. Her articles and essays have been published by the likes of Salon, Harper’s Magazine, the New York Times, and Wired. From the year 1994 until the year 1996, she had her articles published in Harper’s Magazine, as well as collections called Wired Women and Resisting the Virtual Life.

She got into computer programming because her adoptive father’s family had some computer scientists and mathematicians. They had a large impact on her deciding that she should pursue software engineering as a career, despite not having any natural talent at it. Ellen taught herself how to program on a Radio Shack TRS-80, it only had a chunky cassette deck for data. She would begin her work in computers in the year 1978, she worked as a programmer of EDI applications and graphical user interfaces that came before Microsoft Windows.

She earned a B. A. degree from Cornell University in the subject of English. She enjoys reading books from the Gothic period, authors like Edgar Allen Poe (which she loved when she was a child), Charlotte Bronte, and George Eliot.

Ellen believes that technical people should learn literature due to the fact that it will teach you a lot about the different kinds and the depths of human imagination.

Ellen has talked at length of her struggles of being a woman in a predominantly male world of programming computers. She would work certain jobs and tell her employers that she needed to make a certain amount from it. This was daring to her. Ellen would be told (by salesman at the company she worked for) that she was supposed to look sexy and some even thought that she was a secretary while running a project.

At one point, she owned her own consulting firm and worked on NPR’s show called All Things Considered as a technology commentator.

Her first novel was called “The Bug” and was released in the year 2003. This novel was influenced by her twenty year career in
programming. Both her novels and essays look at and analyze the human aspect that is involved in the world of computer programming.

The first thing that she had ever published was called “Close to the Machine: Technophilia and its Discontents” which was published in the year 1997 and this was her breakthrough book. It is from the non-fiction genre. It is considered a cult classic and it is the first book to show the appeal to writing code; it was also a Salon Best Book of the year. “The Bug” and “By Blood” were both New York Times Book Review Notable Book in the different years that they were published.

“The Bug” is the first novel that Ellen Ullman published and was released in the year 2003. The year is 1984 and it is the beginning of the personal computer. Roberta Walton (a beginner software tester) finds a bug. Roberta takes it to Ethan Levin (a veteran programmer), who actually created the bug without meaning to. They go on a hunt for this bug that proves to be quite elusive, and it is called “The Jester” for the way that it tends to appear at the worst possible moment and randomly. It puts the whole company in jeopardy.

His attempts to figure out a solution becomes a scary obsession; one that might destroy both his professional life and his personal life. Roberta finds that she is drawn to challenge. She is forced to learn all there is to know about programming, and it helps her get away from all of her troubles. It helps her become caught up in learning the language that computers speak.

Fans of the novel enjoyed the read and found that Levin is not entirely likable, but readers can sympathize with what he goes through. Ellen Ullman does a great job talking about different issues like ego, love, hate, and human condition; she even talks about relationships and the world as viewed by men with such a strong ability. The novel manages to be entertaining, despite all the talk of coding and all of that; something that quite a few other science fiction novels are not able to do.

“By Blood” is the second novel Ellen Ullman published and was released in the year 2012. Set in San Francisco in the seventies. A professor has been disgraced and gets an office in some old building, which is located downtown, to plan his return. He gets distracted by the noises that come from the office next to him, a psychiatrist has this office.

He can hear therapy sessions going on that involve a young homosexual woman that is trying to find her adoptive family. All she knows about her mother is that she used to be a pretty Jewish lady. He is quickly obsessed with her story and captivated by her voice. The professor takes her story and makes the quest his own and finds out the disturbing truth about where she came from.

He sends new information that he finds out to her, and says that it is coming from an adoption agency. It energizes her, but it leaves her questioning everything that she always believed was true about herself.

Fans of the novel found this to be a well written and heavy book; it is unlike most of what some have ever read before it. Ellen Ullman’s ability to tell a story helps keep the book moving and you do not really focus on the technical aspects of the book. Some felt that they had lost sleep because of the way the book had them hooked. It has well developed characters and plots that are woven together in a wonderful way.

“Close to the Machine: Technophilia and its Discontents” which was published in the year 1997. The year is 1997 and the computer is still sort of new. It is sleek and unforgiving, it is beyond most people’s grasp.

Ellen Ullman is able to show the odd ecstasy of being apart of the mainly male technological revolution, and interpreting the messiness that comes from human life into code that is both artful and efficient.

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