Options: The Secret Life of Steve Jobs, a Parody

Overview

Welcome to the mind, to the world of Fake Steve Jobs. Fake Steve the counterintuitive management guru: "Obviously we can’t literally put our employees’ lives at risk. But we have to make them feel that way.” Fake Steve the political hobnobber: "I can see why they keep Nancy Pelosi under wraps. Wacky as a dime watch.” Fake Steve quoting friend/musician/philosopher Bono on road etiquette: "Tink about dat next toim yer cuttin off some bloke and you don’t know who it is, right? Could be Jay-sus. Or Boutros ...

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Overview

Welcome to the mind, to the world of Fake Steve Jobs. Fake Steve the counterintuitive management guru: "Obviously we can’t literally put our employees’ lives at risk. But we have to make them feel that way.” Fake Steve the political hobnobber: "I can see why they keep Nancy Pelosi under wraps. Wacky as a dime watch.” Fake Steve quoting friend/musician/philosopher Bono on road etiquette: "Tink about dat next toim yer cuttin off some bloke and you don’t know who it is, right? Could be Jay-sus. Or Boutros Boutros-Ghali or sumfin.” And on, yes, himself: "Geniuses have feelings, too.” In the tradition of Thank You for Smoking and in the spirit of The Onion, Options is a novelistic sendup and takedown of Silicon Valley, Hollywood, and Washington, D.C., as viewed by a central character who exists, to his immense self-satisfaction, at the crossroads of all three worlds: "It’s like in one of those movies where a guy realizes he’s got telekinetic powers and it’s just too bad if he doesn’t want them, he’s got them. Likewise, I have this gift. It’s who I am.”

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
Steve Jobs has never been skewered like this. Based on the once-anonymous "Secret Diary of Steve Jobs" that recently swept the Web, Options is razor sharp and utterly delicious: the best technology parody we've ever seen.

Here's "Fake Jobs" trashing the visual aesthetics of the iPhone circuit board ("There's no balance.... The big chip should be right in the middle, not off center. The two little gold pieces on the right should be lined up straight.... Come on guys, go back and redo this. I want it perfectly symmetrical."

Like the best parodies, Options skates terrifyingly close to reality, as when "Fake Jobs" expounds his management philosophy: "Hold people to an impossibly high standard, but don't tell them what that standard is. And fire them if they fall short.... Makes them crazy. And guess what? Crazy people are more creative." We don't know if Dan Lyons is crazy, but creative? Stunningly. Bill Camarda, from the October 2007 Read Only

Katie Hafner
Lyons inspires our prurient, page-turning fascination with a thoroughly unlikable narrator whose antics are at once unbelievable and vaguely plausible.Readers familiar with the Silicon Valley scene will have fun guessing who the pseudonymous characters represent.The novel is peppered with deft comic touches.Even the real Steve Jobs, who isn't known for his ability to laugh at himself, might want to pick it up for a quick, self-enlightening way to pass some time on the Jobs Jet.
New York Times Book Review
Katie Hafner
Over the past two decades, a number of leaden, heavily footnoted books have been written about the real Steve Jobs, chronicling the rise, fall and resurrection of this mock-turtleneck-clad figure. These unfortunate authors got little, if any, cooperation from Jobs himself and produced such bland, fuddy-duddy books they might as well have spared themselves the trouble. Unfettered by facts, Lyons inspires our prurient, page-turning fascination with a thoroughly unlikable narrator whose antics are at once unbelievable and vaguely plausible. …The novel is peppered with deft comic touches.
—The New York Times
Los Angeles Times
Lyons, using the same hilarious voice he created for the blog, tells the story of a Fortune 500 chief executive hippie Reed College dropout.Sheer hubris, seemingly never ending, is what makes this novel such a romp. You know he's going down, and it just makes you feel, well, happy.
New York Post
I couldn't put it down. Somehow, Fake Steve's-I mean Lyons'-style, is compelling.
Newsweek.com
In the establishment-skewering tradition of Voltaire, Cervantes, Jonathan Swift and Laurence Sterne we now have a voice for our own digital age.Mac-slappingly funny.The book is hilarious.
Publishers Weekly

In this tedious parody of the life of Apple founder Steve Jobs, the pseudonymous Fake Steve Jobs (identified in the New York Timesthis month as Forbessenior editor Daniel Lyons) offers a gleeful sendup of the real Steve Jobs set amid the recent stock options backdating scandal. Throughout, the fake Steve pontificates on everything from his superior management skills ("only promote stupid people") to his role in the development of the iPhone (it involves a lot of "non-thinking meditation"), and is portrayed as a cold, callow narcissist. Blissfully unaware of the legal firestorm raging around him, a "mathlexic" Fake Steve goes about his daily business, balancing meditation with the firing of employees while the Apple board of directors scrambles to avoid prison time and find a scapegoat. As the fictitious Apple corporation implodes, Fake Steve must decide whether to jump ship or stand by the company. Tech industry watchers who know (or know of) the players will get a kick out of seeing them skewered, but readers who aren't already tuned in to the Silicon Valley technocracy may not quite get it. Fake Steve doesn't really evolve as a character, but as a grotesque caricature, he's fun to watch. (Oct.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Forbes Magazine
What Steve Jobs did with the Mac, Pixar, the iPod and the iPhone qualifies him for the entrepreneurs' Mount Rushmore. But, as you'd expect, a man with such outsize achievements can also have a supersize ego and personality. And so FORBES Senior Editor Dan Lyons couldn't resist taking shots at such a rich target. For more than a year Lyons anonymously posted a satirical blog about the innermost thoughts of Fake Steve Jobs. (Several months ago the New York Times outed Lyons as the author.) Lyons has triumphantly demonstrated that the humor of the Fake Steve Jobs postings works as a full-length novel. The result is a Silicon Valley send-up that will keep you laughing nonstop. It humorously skewers the world of high tech and its truth-is-stranger-than-fiction personalities. Hollywood and much else also take their lumps. The story's plot is based on Steve Jobs' real-life run-in with authorities over Apple's backdating of stock options to increase their value. Similar scandals beheaded scores of corporate chieftains. But Jobs has so far been spared.

Most of the media and the financial world didn't want him destroyed because that would have meant the end of Apple as we know it, which now has a market value of more than $144 billion. In the novel, however, an ambitious U.S. Attorney thinks scalping Jobs will make him governor. Fake Steve's responses at the initial meeting with this villainous prosecutor and his associate are exactly how anyone who has gone through such an experience would love to have responded--but dared not. Fake Steve Jobs has no lack of imperial pretensions. Any employee who isn't supposed to talk to him and does will be quickly fired. Fake Steve's esthetic sense knowsno bounds: The man goes berserk if an Apple truck's white color doesn't strike him as quite right. "You can't imagine how many shades of black there are. And white." His extremely self-serious musings on his meditations and how he eats will give you belly laughs. So will his thoughts on dealing with powerful people. "Rule Number One when talking to people who think they're powerful is this: Insult them. Tell them they're stupid. Challenge them. Unlike the rest of the world, they're not used to this kind of abuse. Nobody ever talks to them like this.

The disrespect knocks them back on their asses real fast. Sure enough [Disney CEO Robert] Iger starts backpedaling." Toward the story's end Fake Steve acknowledges he's something of a sociopath, but so what? "The world needs sociopaths. Who else ever gets anything done?" From the temperature of his chai latte to the design of his products, Fake Steve is a terrorizing perfectionist. He creates intense anxiety in others, ostensibly to generate ideas and improve people's performance. "Hold people to an impossibly high standard, but here's the twist--don't tell them what that standard is. And fire them if they fall short. You know what that does to people? Makes them crazy. And guess what? Crazy people are more creative." Lyons has set his own high standard for modern satire. (10 Dec 2007)
—Steve Forbes

Kirkus Reviews
A novel by a fake author about fake incidents at a real company. The parodistic premise of this book is that Steve Jobs, narrator and god-in-training, has more to do than merely attend to cooked books, presentations about iPhones and meetings with the likes of Bono, Sting and Yoko Ono-he wants to save the world. Much is made of the counterculture atmosphere at Apple computer. (Jobs does not like to be interrupted in the Tassajara meditation room, for example, and a post-Pilates working lunch consists of miso soup and apple slices.) Interruptions abound, however, especially in the form of a pesky lawsuit about backdating stock options. One of the government prosecutors is aggressively motivated by the fact that "his iPod battery crapped out after ten months and [Apple] refused to replace it under warranty." But Jobs, the self-described "mega-rich mega-famous mega-creative genius," has other things on his mind-for example, a meeting to discuss a proposal to reduce the length of the next iPod by half a millimeter, a move that Jobs is convinced will "throw off the balance of the design." He also smugly knows that if he were "taken out of the game," a looming reality would scare people out of their minds. His one-word hint: "Microsoft." The Steve Jobs narrative persona says things like "I'm like, ‘Dude, whatever' you know?" He also likes to mess with the heads of his Apple employees by basing his management style on anti-MBA principles such as, "Never let people know where they stand," "Only promote stupid people . . . who actually believe they're super brilliant" and "Throw tantrums." He shows the perks of power in his firing schemes, for some days the first person he meets with red hair getsfired-or "the first person wearing one of those stupid Bluetooth earpieces."Kind of fun, especially if you're a computer geek.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780306815843
  • Publisher: Da Capo Press
  • Publication date: 10/22/2007
  • Pages: 256
  • Product dimensions: 5.70 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Fake Steve Jobs is an award-winning writer of fiction and nonfiction with something of an insider’s knowledge of the high-tech industry. He decided to use his powers for good by starting up the wildly popular blog "The Secret Diary of Steve Jobs” (http://fakesteve.blogspot.com), which created the persona and voice for this novel.

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted February 7, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I laughed and Laughed!

    From the very first page, I began to chuckle. The fake Steve is narcissistic and self absorbed... you can't help but laugh at him! I wonder if that is so different from the real Steve? Daniel Lyons does a nice job of weaving together fact and fiction and creates a very interesting and funny character. It embodies the phrase "Don't let the truth get in the way of a good story."

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 31, 2007

    A reviewer

    That's what the Wall Street Journal said in today's paper about Options and I have to agree! It's over-the-top, somewhat ridiculous, and totally fun. If you're looking for a fun read, or a great book as a gift, you can't go wrong with Options!

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