by Douglas Coupland
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JPod by Douglas Coupland

A lethal joyride into today’s new breed of technogeeks, Coupland’s forthcoming novel updates Microserfs for the age of Google.

Ethan Jarlewski and five co-workers whose names start with J are bureaucratically marooned in jPod. jPod is a no-escape architectural limbo on the fringes of a massive Vancouver game design company.

The six workers daily confront the forces that define our era: global piracy, boneheaded marketing staff, people smuggling, the rise of China, marijuana grow ops, Jeff Probst, and the ashes of the 1990s financial tech dream. jPod’s universe is amoral and shameless. The characters are products of their era even as they’re creating it.

Everybody in Ethan’s life inhabits a moral grey zone. Nobody is exempt, not even his seemingly straitlaced parents or Coupland himself, as readers will see.

Full of word games, visual jokes and sideways jabs, this book throws a sharp, pointed lawn dart into the heart of contemporary life. jPod is Douglas Coupland at the top of his game.

Excerpt from jPod:

I slunk into the BoardX meeting where Steve, Gord-O, and staff from the loftiest perches of the food chain were still trying to nail the essence of Jeff the Charismatic Turtle. Prototype turtle sketches were pinned onto a massive cork wall, all of them goofy and teensploitational: sunglasses, baggy pants and (dear God) a terry-cloth sweatband.

“Does Jeff the Turtle follow players around the entire time they manipulate their third person?”

“Almost. Like Watson is to Sherlock Holmes.”

“Can you imagine how annoying that would be?”

“Maybe the buddy isn’t such a good idea.”

Steve squashed that hope. “It’s going to be a buddy. Players will love it.”

“It’s really Poochie-Joins-Itchy-and-Scratchy.”

“How am I ever going to look somebody who plays Tony Hawk games in the face again?”

“Isn’t our turtle supposed to be a bit more studly?”

“Turtles aren’t studly by nature.”

“What about the turtle they used in the 1950s to pimp the atomic weapons program? He was kind of studly.”

“No he wasn’t and, besides, he’s dead.”


“Dead. Hanged himself from the side of his posh midtown Manhattan terrarium. Left a note saying he couldn’t handle the shame of what he’d done. Wrote it on a piece of Bibb lettuce.”

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781596912335
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
Publication date: 05/16/2006
Pages: 448
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

Douglas Coupland was born on a NATO base in Germany in 1961. He is the author of Eleanor Rigby, Hey Nostradamus!, All Families Are Psychotic, Microserfs and Generation X, among others. He is also a visual artist and sculptor, furniture designer and screenwriter, as well as the author of Souvenir of Canada and its sequel, Souvenir of Canada 2. His most recent book is Terry, the story of Terry Fox. He lives and works in Vancouver.

Read an Excerpt

"Oh God. I feel like a refugee from a Douglas Coupland novel.”

“That asshole.”

“Who does he think he is?”

“Come on, guys, focus. We’ve got a major problem on our hands.”

The six of us were silent, but for our footsteps. The main corridor’s muted plasma TVs blipped out the news and sports, while ­co-­workers in ­long-­sleeved blue and black ­T-­shirts ­oompah-­loompahed in and out of ­laminate-­access doors, elevated walkways, staircases and elevators, their missions inscrutable and squirrelly. It was a rare sunny day. Freakishly articulated sunbeams highlighted specks of mica in the hallway’s designer granite. They looked like randomized particle ­events.

Mark said, “I can’t even think about what just happened in there.”

John Doe said, “I’d like to do whatever it is people statistically do when confronted by a jolt of large and bad news.”

I suggested he ingest five milligrams of Valium and three shots of hard liquor or four glasses of domestic ­wine.


“Don’t ask me, John. Google it.”

“And so I shall.”

Cowboy had a jones for cough syrup, while Bree fished through one of her many pink vinyl Japanese handbags for lip gloss – phase one of her ­well-­established pattern of pursuing sexual conquest to silence her inner ­pain.

The only quiet member of our group of six was Kaitlin, new to our work area as of the day before. She was walking with us mostly because she didn’t yet know how to get from the meeting room to our cubicles. We’re not sure if Kaitlin is boring or if she’s resistant to bonding, but then again none of us have really cranked up our ­charm.

We passed Warren from the motion capture studio. “Yo! jPodsters! A turtle! All right!” He flashed a thumbs-­up.

“Thank you, Warren. We can all feel the love in the room.”

Clearly, via the gift of text messaging, Warren and pretty much everyone in the company now knew of our plight, which is this: during today’s marketing meeting we learned we now have to retroactively insert a charismatic cuddly turtle character into our skateboard game, which is already nearly ­one-­third of the way through its production cycle. Yes, you read that correctly, a turtle character–in a skateboard ­game.

The ­three-­hour meeting had taken place in a two-­hundred-­seat room nicknamed the ­air-­conditioned rectum. I tried to make the event go faster by pretending to have superpower vision: I could see the carbon dioxide pumping in and out of everyone’s nose and mouth – it was purple. It made me think of that urban legend about the chemical they put in swimming pools that reveals when somebody pees. Then I wondered if Leonardo da Vinci had ever inhaled any of the oxygen molecules I was breathing, or if he ever had to sit through a marketing meeting. What would that have been like? “Leo, thanks for your input, but our studies indicate that when they see Lisa smile, they want a sexy, flirty smile, not that grim little slit she has now. Also, I don’t know what that closet case Michelangelo is thinking with that naked David guy, but Jesus, clamp a diaper onto him pronto. Next item on the agenda: Perspective – Passing Fad or Opportunity to Win? But first, Katie here is going to tell us about this Friday’s Jeans Day, to be followed by a ­ten-­minute muffin break.”

But the word “turtle” pulled me out of my reverie, uttered by Fearless Leader–our new head of marketing, Steve. I put up my hand and quite reasonably asked, “Sorry, Steve, did you say a turtle?”

Christine, a senior development director, said, “No need to be sarcastic, Ethan. Steve here took Toblerone chocolate and turned it around inside of two years.”

“No,” Steve protested. “I appreciate an open dialogue. All I’m really saying is that, at home, my son, Carter, plays SimQuest4 and can’t get enough of its turtle character, and if my Carter likes turtle characters, then a turtle character is a winner, and thus, this skateboard game needs a turtle.”

John Doe BlackBerried me: I CAN’T FEEL MY LEGS

And so the order was issued to make our new turtle character “accessible” and “fun” and the buzzword is so horrible I have to spell it out in ASCII: “{101, 100, 103, 121}”

• • •

Back in our cubicle pod, the six of us fizzled away from each other like ginger ale bubbles. I had eighteen new emails and one phone message, my mother: “Dear, could you give me a call? I really need to speak with you–it’s an emergency.”

An emergency? I phoned her cell right away. “Mom, what’s up? What’s wrong?”

“Ethan, are you at work right now?”

“Where else would I be?”

“I’m at SuperValu. Let me call you back from a pay phone.”

The line went dead. I picked it up when it ­rang.

“Mom, you said this was an emergency.”

“It is, dear. Ethan, honey, I need you to help me.”

“I just got out of the Worst Meeting Ever. What’s going on?”

“I suppose I’d better just tell you flat out.”

“Tell me what?”

“Ethan, I killed a biker.”

“You killed a biker?”

“Well, I didn’t mean to.”

“Mom, how the hell did you manage to kill a biker?”

“Ethan, just come home right now. I’ll be there in twenty minutes.”

“Why doesn’t Dad help?”

“He’s on a shoot today. He might get a speaking part.”

She hung ­up.

• • •

On my way out of the office, I passed a ­world-­building team, standing in a semicircle, staring at a large ­German-­made knife on a ­desktop.

“What’s up?” I ­asked.

“It’s the knife we’re using to cut Aidan’s birthday cake,” a friend, Josh, ­replied.

I looked more closely at the knife: it was clownishly big. “Okay, it’s ­hard-­core Itchy & Scratchy – but so what?”

“We’re having a contest – we’re trying to see if there’s any way to hold a knife and walk across a room and not look psycho."

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4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 22 reviews.
DneColt More than 1 year ago
This book was either transcribed by a drunken monkey or OCR software from 1992. Don't waste your money on the nook book, buy the real one instead. I understand it's quite good. If I was Douglas Couplan(d), I'd be super-pissed.
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ClarkP More than 1 year ago
Jpod by Douglas Coupland is hilarious. I was laughing throughout the entire book. Coupland creates great characters and takes them on a wild ride with a plot full of crazy scenarios. I have read some negative reviews on how Coupland incorporated himself into the book. These people said it was 'egotistical' and 'arrogant,' but in all actuality it was for comical relief. Read it and see for yourself, Coupland does not seem like an arrogant man at all. Jpod will go down as another excellent book from the mastermind Douglas Coupland.