Ship Mode Sanity Books

From: Ted A. Carroll (
Date: Mon Jan 01 2001 - 14:29:05 PST

Kragen Sitaker wrote:
> So I wrote --- anyone have
> any comments?

Yep. I think that your list is a great introduction to the philosophy
of programming but it feels light on a few key points. Granted, I
haven't read all the books on your list but here are a few ideas:

1) Mythical Man-Month -- Brooks
2) Rapid Development -- McConnell
3) Software Engineering Economics -- Boehm.
4) Measures for Excellence -- Putnam and Myers

Full bibliography on these at:

I'd also like to see Understanding Computers and Cognition -- Winnograd
or What Computers Still Can't Do -- Dreyfus.

But all that isn't why I wanted to write. There are a few books that I
almost always reread in order to keep my sanity during a ship cycle.
Does anybody else do this and what do you read?

1) Armor - John Steakley.
Futuristic military Sci-Fi. In some ways it's a little like Starship
Troopers in that it's basically a bug war. The main character survives
by realizing that someday a bug is going to kill him but it's sure as
hell not going to be the one standing in front of him right now. It's a
little grim but that sort of attitude helps me through the end of a
death march project.

2) Tactics of Mistake - Gordon R. Dickson
Helps me think a little bit differently about the ship processes.

3) Cat's Cradle - Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.
Don't know why but I find this book strangely comforting during a bad
ship cycle. Maybe because I believe that in the software business you
build teams and get products as a side effect. The strange
interconnectedness of the characters in some ways reminds me of that.

4) Shockwave Rider - John Brunner
Stunning Vision of the future that is still unfolding. Unfortunately,
it's out of print again. If you can find it used, pick it up. It's my
favorite Sci-Fi book of all time.

It's all science fiction -- despite what Vonnegut says. I'm interested
in other ship-mode sanity books. Anybody?


Ted C.

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