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14+ Works 2,384 Members 57 Reviews

About the Author

Katie Hafner has been writing about technology since 1983. She was the news editor of Data Communications Magazine, a reporter for the San Diego Union, a technology correspondent for Business Week and a contributing editor at Newsweek, covering technology and computers. In addition, she has show more contributed articles to journals such as Wired, The New Republic, Esquire and Working Woman. Hafner is co-author of Cyberpunk: Outlaws and Hackers on the Computer Frontier (1991, with John Markoff), and Where Wizards Stay Up Late: The Origins of the Internet (1996, with husband Matthew Lyon). In 1995, she wrote The House at the Bridge: A Story of Modern Germany, which grew out of an interest she developed in college while studying with novelist and playwright Rheinhard Lettau. (Bowker Author Biography) show less

Includes the names: Katie Hafner, Kathie Hafner

Works by Katie Hafner

Associated Works

Me, My Hair, and I: Twenty-seven Women Untangle an Obsession (2015) — Contributor — 142 copies, 34 reviews
What’s Language Got to Do with It? (2005) — Contributor — 51 copies, 2 reviews


Common Knowledge

Places of residence
San Francisco Bay Area, California, USA
New York Times



"The Boys" is a book distinguished by its smooth surfaces. Ethan, an unfailingly polite but always reserved programmer, makes it moderately big in the tech industry. He opens up to Barb, whom he has met through work. They have an odd, slow-blooming courtship and marry. They go on to live a comfortable life in the Philadelphia suburbs and have enough dough left over to do things like take cycling vacations through rural Italy. Hafner's ironic sensibilities do not spare their travel companions, who are, like them, securely ensconced in the comfortable bubble that twenty-first century American wealth provides. And then, after some difficult questions get asked, things start to change for both Ethan and Barb.

There's the twist, of course, which I won't reveal here, but "The Boys" also features another elephant in the room. Hafner's prose is observant, but the tone throughout remains straightforward and informative, and, for the most part, rather bright. This isn't to say that Ethan's life has been one long afternoon of happiness -- far from it! -- but his confidence, his nuts-and-bolts approach to life, and his relative success can make his emotional life seem a bit featureless. It only takes a few small changes for things to change drastically, and, to the author's credit, she skillfully shows how quickly a meticulously constructed existence such as Ethan and Barb's can come apart. Hafner's authorial voice never wavers, though: there's no indirect third person here. And there you have it: though the author chooses not to, you might call this one "The Curious Incident of the Coder in the Night-Time". Many of the topics that "The Boys" touches on -- such as the necessity for personal courage when faced with one's own limitations, or the continuing evolution of a marriage -- are universal, while other parts of the book seem particular as Ethan himself. I can't say that "The Boys" is a classic-in-waiting, I think that it's a fine example of neurodivergent lit, and that's a category that might grow more interesting as we learn more about the complexities of the neuroatypical human mind and how it interactions with the emotions of those who live on the spectrum. Recommended to those with a special interest in these subjects.
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TheAmpersand | 5 other reviews | Feb 16, 2024 |
I read this when it came out. It was rad! It really initiated my interest in the internet and got me into Library school.
bloftin2 | 1 other review | May 4, 2023 |
Such an odd book that I really liked. Hafner puts us inside Ethan's worried, mind as he cares obsessively for the Russian twins his wife suddenly brought home. Then we learn, from the bike-tour guides, that ...

And this plot twist made the book all the more fascinating.
bobbieharv | 5 other reviews | Nov 6, 2022 |
In the hands of a lesser writer this would have been trite and absurd, but Hafner pulls it off. Briefly, the book centers on Ethan, a gifted programmer who launched a successful startup (not billionaire success, but comfortable life without having to work much success.) He had serious childhood trauma, and perhaps as a result is very introverted. He is lovable but unquestionably a bit odd. When he meets Barb his life changes but his unexamined dormant trauma response takes a complicated turn in part 2 of the book and then we either are hateful and give up on him or root for him to find a path to healing. This is a book about giving people space without abandoning them, practicing empathy while also setting boundaries. These are tall orders. Living with someone with serious OCD is so hard and often thankless - it is made worse when that person refuses to seen meaningful help or solutions. (I speak from experience.) The beauty of Barb's and Izzy's response to Ethan, their non-judgmental gaze and their ability to find the beauty in Ethan's skewed perspective, really moved me. This book is not perfect, but it is very good and for me empathy building, and I was absorbed all the way through. So glad I read this.… (more)
Narshkite | 5 other reviews | Oct 17, 2022 |


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