Whether you tune in for Keynote liveblogs, or despise Applemodo, Options by Fake Steve Jobs will be an effortless read. The opening:
It is Tuesday afternoon. I am barefoot, sitting on a cushion in the lotus position, gazing at a circuit board. This board, no bigger than a playing card, has taken years to create. It is the heart of the of the iPhone, the most important object my engineers have ever assembled. And it is wrong. I do not know why, exactly. But it is wrong. By this i do not mean that the board does not function correctly. It functions perfectly. But it lacks beauty. My engineers argue that a circuit board need not be beautiful, since no one will ever see it.
"Yes," I say, "but I will know it is there. And I will know that it is not beautiful."
The main difference between today's RSJ and FSJ, aside from being totally fake, is that he retains all of that bombastic confidence the Young RSJ had which gets veiled behind the corporate handlers. (Fortunate for shareholders, unfortunate for fanboys.) Can you imagine of RSJ insulting Microsoft's taste on TV or putting a pirate flag on top of a dev building in 2007? ) That's it's a blast to read. FSJ is fully talented, enamored with that talent, demanding, neurotic, driven, egotistical, and brutal in his dealings. He is as refreshing and unapologetic as anyone with this strong a character should be. This book's greatest virtue is while reading through FSJ stock option turmoil, you feel like Lyons convincingly channels the mythological figure of RSJ as seamlessly as the lip of an iMac wraps around its screen; if you remind yourself that this is a Forbes editor, not the creator of the friggin' iPod at the top of any given page, it is almost assured that you will have forgotten this words later. What's more amazing is that people in the position to know say that the voice of Fake Steve is spot on. I don't exactly believe that, but it certainly resonates.
Dialog aside, the book twists through pre-iPhone days, through the options scandal, and through an insane ending, Lyons paints that surreal life in Silicon Valley foreign to the rest of American and tech company habit. He travels through Apple's boardrooms and secret labs, dealings with VCs an fundraisers where he has to deal with idiots getting in the way of his drive to design perfect things. That would have been the straight forward formula for Options but Lyons weaves Apple lore through this work touching the obsessively planned Keynotes at Macworld and WWDC, and what happens when a cop pulls over Jobs for speeding (recall his AMG sports car is plateless, SJ carefree of possible fines). Larry Ellison provides as foil and companion by way of drug binges at his friend's zen gardens. Then there's the FSJ accounting of what really happened when RSJ journeyed to India on a soul search. None of this lore is new, most of it based on facts and assumptions about the RSJ reported in many books, spun wildly, but its not been told first person before. Even if the mysterious Jobs one day tells his story in an autobiography, I'm not sure it could be this good. That's the fun of making shit up, I suppose.
Lyons, a relative late comer to Apple culture, got it through reading plenty of books, without any Apple sources, drawing on his fiction writing background and ability. One wonders how he feels about Jobs. Does he despise his personality? Does he think the dictatorship is a necessary evil for creating beautiful objects that save the world from Microtards? You won't likely figure out what Lyons, not FSJ, thinks with all of his biting words shrouded in fiction. The only thing that is clear is that the man is obsessed with playing Jobs in blog and book; it satisfies those who'd like to learn more about the man behind the company. (Richly, too, in character.) All we get these days are the PR approved essays on music or how the apps are coming to the iPhone, or soundbite quotes on how awesome he thinks the new iPods are. Glimpses of decisions like the BSOD PC icons in Leopard remind me of a company and person who put forth strong feelings about where they stood in the world without much reservation. Or put pirate flags on top of development buildings. I like that stuff. [FSJ and Options on Amazon]