Review by Shlomi Fish, November 2003
The title of the book is a bit misleading. There is little about games, and a large part of it was the Perl knowledge quizes, and Perl obfuscated code contests which I decided to avoid. There is also not too much about Perl culture. A large part of the book is devoted to other things such as language programming in Perl.
Nevertheless, this book contains a great deal of interesting articles, collected from the Perl Journal. Some articles I liked include:
- An essay by Larry Wall "Wherefore Art, Thou", that tries to find the musical equivalents of various programming angauges and concludes that Perl is akin to Cartoon music.
- "The Perl Journal Cover Art" which covers the covers (pun intended) of the early Perl journals. I especially liked the special Java edition that featured a cup of coffee with a cigarette butt inside. (and you can read some amusing comments that were received due to it)
- An article about Genetic Algorithms which is very enlightening.
- An article about the IRC Infobots.
- An article by Damian Conway about his sophisticated text autoformatting module.
- An article about the Rezrov Infocom game interperter, used to run legacy adventure games.
To sum up: a good book that any experienced Perl programmer will find many things interesting in.
Review by Offer Kaye, May 2004
I got a copy of this book in one of the Israel Perl Mongers meetings (perl.org.il), to read and review it.
This book is a loose collection of articles from The Perl Journal, a magazine specializing in Perl. The book is titled as "Best of the Perl Journal", and I support this title- I enjoyed reading the entire book, which covers a variety of topics, from Science to Poetry.
Most O'Reilly titles are technical in nature, and at least for me those kinds of books are very hard to read from start to finish, as I quickly find entire chapters or even sections of the book irrelevant to my specific interest or simply written in a boring manner. Not so for "Games, Diversions and Perl Culture" - this light hearted book captivated me from the start, even when reading articles about subjects which normally I wouldn't find interesting, such as Politics.
However, even though it is not a reference or hard-core technical book, "Games, Diversions and Perl Culture" still managed to teach me a lot of interesting Perl, with all code examples being clearly and thoroughly explained. I especially liked the "Obfuscated Perl" section, I promise you that any Perl programmer that really tries to understand the code in this section will either get an immense headache or will gain a huge leap forward in his understanding of this powerful language and how to get the most out of it (in as little characters as possible) ;-)
Since each article was written by an expert in that subject, "Games, Diversions and Perl Culture" has many articles but they are all of a high technical quality, something which would be impossible with a book with a single author who tried covering such a large variety of subjects. At the same time, even though it was written by many authors, the editor, Jon Orwant, did a great job in creating a book with a consistent feel and a generally high quality of writing.
Most book reviews would at this stage stop being general and start going into specifics, but "Games, Diversions and Perl Culture" covers such a wide range of topics and does this so well that I really feel I would be wasting your time. Go to the book's site, download and read the sample chapters, peruse the table of contents and decide for yourselves whether you like it or not. If you're still hesitant at buying the book outright, I recommend trying out Safari Bookshelf, an electronic reference library which will, for a low price, let you read this and other books online, without having to pay the full price of a book.