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From the Publisher
The Bug is a mesmerizing first novel about a demonic, elusive computer bug and the havoc it wreaks on the lives of the people around it. This rare combination–a novel of ideas and a suspense–is a story about obsession and love that takes readers deep into both the personal and virtual life.
In 1984, at the dawn of the personal-computer era, Roberta Walton, a novice software tester at a SiliconValley start-up, stumbles across a bug. She brings it to its inadvertent creator, Ethan Levin, a longtime programmer who is working at the limits of his knowledge and abilities. Both believe this is a bug like any other to be found and fixed and crossed off the list. But no matter how obsessively Ethan combs through the depths of the code, he can''t find its cause. Roberta runs test after test but can''t make the bug appear at will. Meanwhile, the bug, living up to its name, "The Jester," shows itself only at the least opportune times and jeopardizes the fate of the company.
Under the pressures of his obsession with the bug and his rapidly deteriorating personal life, Ethan begins to unravel. Roberta, on the other hand, is drawn to the challenge. Forced to learn how to program, she comes to appreciate the intense intimacy of speaking the computer''s language.
As she did in Close to the Machine, Ellen Ullman brilliantly limns the space between human beings and computers–a space we all occupy every day as we peer into our monitors. Ullman has been a computer programmer for more than twenty years, and having switched from code to prose, she has shown herself to be a unique, revelatory writer. She is the insider who can articulate the realities of the technical world, taking readers to emotional and intellectual places fiction has never brought them before. With The Bug, Ullman proves she is not only a remarkable essayist but also a master storyteller.