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Keywords: Geeklit, humour, satire
Title: The Best of Verity Stob
Author: Verity Stob
Verdict: Buy it now.
For a while I was convinced that Verity Stob was a pseudonym of Robert Schifreen, then editor of .Exe magazine which was home to Ms Stob's hilarious column. Or perhaps it was that Robert Schifreen was Ms Stob's alter ego. I forget which. But now I know that they're not the same person after all. Not that I've ever seen them in the same room. Partly this is because I still don't know who it is that hides behind the Stob moniker. I just know that it's not Rob, even if he wore a dress I'm pretty sure that Verity Stob is a she and not a he. But I digress. Verity's column is legendary. Especially amongst those who read it. Some of us have been reading it for years, following it from .Exe (which later upgraded to plain Exe before being defuncted) to DDJ to the Register where it appears occasionally (though sadly not enough).
Now, thanks to Apress, those who've missed out can catch up with 'The Best of Verity Stob', an anthology of her work from way back when hard disks were measured in MB and RAM in KB. Younger readers may want to look those up.
On display is the biting wit, the technical verve and the comic genius that inspired us all. She was proof positive that it was possible to program and to string a sentence together without the aid of software. She showed us that it was possible to be funny intentionally. And not once did she make a joke that conjoined hard disks, floppies and RAM. Now that's what you call talent.
Like all genius she suffered for her art. One has only to look at the number of poems and songs included in this collection. However it's the stories that are her real forte. Funny, erudite, very well observed. The vagaries of developer life, Visual Basic, scripting languages, job interviews, Mrs Bill Gates. The range of topics that she handles with characteristic Stobness is without parallel. Sure, there were rumours of a Stob.NET, but that's just more vapourware. This is the real thing.
To finish. One of my favourite lines:
1971. Edsger Dijkstra delivers his famous ACM paper dealing with naming conventions: 'Excessive consonants considered hard to spell'.
Makes me laugh every time.