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Uncanny Valley

A Memoir
Narrated by: Suehyla El-Attar
Length: 8 hrs and 45 mins
3.9 out of 5 stars (19 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

The prescient account of a journey into Silicon Valley: a defining memoir for our digital age.

At 25 years old, Anna Wiener was beginning to tire of her assistant job in New York publishing. There was no room to grow, and the voyeuristic thrill of answering someone else’s phone had worn thin. Within a year she had moved to San Francisco to take up a job at a data analytics start-up in Silicon Valley. Leaving her business-casual skirts and shirts in the wardrobe, she began working in company-branded T-shirts and hoodies. She had a healthy income for the first time in her life. She felt like part of the future.

But a tide was beginning to turn. People were speaking of tech start-ups as surveillance companies. Out of 60 employees, only 8 of her colleagues were women. Casual sexism was rife. Sexual harassment cases were proliferating. And soon, like everyone else, she was addicted to the internet, refreshing the news, refreshing social media, scrolling and scrolling and scrolling. Slowly, she began to realise that her blind faith in ambitious, arrogant young men from America’s soft suburbs wasn’t just her own personal pathology. It had become a global affliction.

Uncanny Valley is a coming of age story set against the backdrop of our generation’s very own gold rush. It’s a story about the tension between old and new, between art and tech, between the quest for money and the quest for meaning - about how our world is changing forever.

©2020 Anna Wiener (P)2020 HarperCollins Publishers Limited

Critic Reviews

 "Joan Didion at a startup." (Rebecca Solnit, best-selling author of Men Explain Things to Me)

"This was the memoir I'd been waiting for. A witty, unique perspective and fresh insight showing us the behind the scenes of the tech industry in a new thrilling way." (Emma Gannon)

"A rare mix of acute, funny, up-to-the-minute social observation, dead-serious contemplation of the tech industry’s annexation of our lives, and a sincere first-person search for meaningful work and connection. How does an unworn pair of plain sneakers become a monument to the end of sensuousness? Read on." (William Finnegan, author of Barbarian Days)

What listeners say about Uncanny Valley

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Paean to Capitalism

-funny in parts -the section about garbage language was interesting -so many descriptions of ‘good looking’, ‘smart’ white men who were ‘clever’ and ‘passionate’. Was this just a list of crushes on white dudes? -became tedious toward the end, so many paragraphs written as long questions.

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Challenging but worthwhile

Not your usual tech memoir to say the least! More than a bit challenging in parts but overall a very worthwhile read. The editorial decision to anonymize everything was interesting. Fear of NDA retribution?

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  • Anonymous User
  • 19-03-2020

Engaging narrator, thin content

It rattles along but really it felt like a magazine article stretched into a book.

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  • Zebra Karma
  • 23-02-2020

Underwhelming.

I’m baffled as to why this memoir has received so many rave reviews in the press and been named in Best Reads of 2020 features. Whatever the point of this non-story was, I missed it entirely. Nothing really happens apart from the author moving from tech job to tech job. Her insistence on not naming certain social media platforms swiftly got on my nerves. “He wrote on the micro blogging site.” “I logged on to the social media site that everyone hated”. Fine once or twice, not repeated over and over. By the end I was yelling at my device: “Just say he tweeted, for the love of all that is good and holy.”

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  • A.J.F
  • 01-05-2020

Neverending dullness

If she hates the tech industry so much why does she stick with it?! I repeatedly asked myself this while forcing myself to reach the end of this extended moan from the author. The book outlines the typical misogynistic environment of the tech industry and is basically a long ramble about the injustices and hardships the author encountered on her life journey. I can't believe I made it to the end- zoning out helped. It's well read at least...

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  • Olly Buxton
  • 26-04-2020

great polemic

This is a polemic for our times, cutting, quick-witted, self aware and self-deprecating. Especially in the final straight there are some devastating acknowledgements of the vacuity of youth, absurd expectations for what are really simple ideas, and the casual (again, youthful) insouciance of these tech entrepreneurs of the long range effects and consequences of their cargo cult. Excellent narrator, too.

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  • L. V. Smith
  • 15-04-2020

Hair-raising account

I loved this. It's an account that rings totally true and it's pretty shocking - even if you think you know how toxic the tech world is. I loved the personal details and the ups and downs. Loved the frankness and the humour. As a picture of contemporary Silicon Valley life it's amazingly real and instructive. I've recommended this book to several people and I'm still thinking about it.