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Land of Lisp: Learn to Program in Lisp, One Game at a Time! [Paperback]

Conrad Barski
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (46 customer reviews)

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Book Description

November 15, 2010 1593272812 978-1593272814 1

Lisp has been hailed as the world's most powerful programming language, but its cryptic syntax and academic reputation can be enough to scare off even experienced programmers. Those dark days are finally over—Land of Lisp brings the power of functional programming to the people!

With his brilliantly quirky comics and out-of-this-world games, longtime Lisper Conrad Barski teaches you the mysteries of Common Lisp. You'll start with the basics, like list manipulation, I/O, and recursion, then move on to more complex topics like macros, higher order programming, and domain-specific languages. Then, when your brain overheats, you can kick back with an action-packed comic book interlude!

Along the way you'll create (and play) games like Wizard Adventure, a text adventure with a whiskey-soaked twist, and Grand Theft Wumpus, the most violent version of Hunt the Wumpus the world has ever seen.

You'll learn to:

  • Master the quirks of Lisp's syntax and semantics
  • Write concise and elegant functional programs
  • Use macros, create domain-specific languages, and learn other advanced Lisp techniques
  • Create your own web server, and use it to play browser-based games
  • Put your Lisp skills to the test by writing brain-melting games like Dice of Doom and Orc Battle

With Land of Lisp, the power of functional programming is yours to wield.

Frequently Bought Together

Land of Lisp: Learn to Program in Lisp, One Game at a Time! + Common LISP: A Gentle Introduction to Symbolic Computation (Dover Books on Engineering)
Price for both: $61.07

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Conrad Barski has an M.D. from the University of Miami, and nearly 20 years of programming experience. This includes a stint developing an obscure Atari Jaguar game, and working on many medical software projects. Barski is also an avid cartoonist, having created the popular alien Lisp mascot and many graphical tutorials. He currently develops cardiology software and lives in Washington, D.C.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 504 pages
  • Publisher: No Starch Press; 1 edition (November 15, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1593272812
  • ISBN-13: 978-1593272814
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 7 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (46 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #238,098 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
91 of 92 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Eating parentheses for breakfast is delicious... and fun! November 23, 2010
By Fogus
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
If for no other reason, you should buy Land of Lisp because of the extreme levels of unadulterated nerdery filling its pages. The price of the book is almost worth that very spectacle alone. However, as an added bonus the content of the book is top drawer. The first incarnation of Lisp was discovered by John McCarthy over 50 years ago, so it's difficult to imagine that a book on the subject bringing a fresh perspective, but Land of Lisp pulls it off in spades. The book manages to carve its own unique niche in the Lisp book landscape through a masterful blend of cartoons, game development examples, interesting prose, and a highly sharpened whit.

The author, Conrad Barski M.D., takes the reader through a whirlwind tour of Common Lisp and some of the fundamental principles of game development, but interestingly enough it never feels rushed. He accomplishes this feat by sticking to a very important strategy summarized as, "providing something useful at every stage". That is, every example in the book is meant to fit into the context of the larger game examples (e.g. a text adventure, Dice of Doom, etc.) while simultaneously teaching a lesson about Common Lisp *and* provide utility in isolation. It's really a thing of beauty the way that Mr. Barski manages to build useable games piecemeal while teaching important concepts along the way. To illustrate what I mean, let me give an example. The Dice of Doom game example starts with a very small 2x2 board and the program parts needed to represent it. Mr. Barski then builds pieces on top of this substrate to generate positions, while extolling the virtues of decoupling the logic of the game from its representation.
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23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
Not since the long out of print "A Fortran Coloring Book" by Roger Kaufman and MIT Press has there been a programming language textbook that was this much fun :-) Lisp is a powerful, self-extensible language; it is the second oldest programming language in continuous use; its implementation was based on a 1958 mathematical paper by John McCarthy on the Lambda Calculus. It also for many years was the main language taught in MIT's basic course for Computer Science 6.001 the "Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs".

While this book would be worth purchasing for the Nerdly Jokes and Comics by themselves, it is a full but easily paced treatment of a language that allowed the implementation of most Artificial Intelligence research. The easy, carefully designed pedagogy (teaching) follows the development of several entertaining and challenging games including 1980's style text adventures (like Zork and Adventure). But advanced topics are covered in some level of depth with examples including development of a HTTP server, a full chapter on Functional Programming, and another on LISP Macro's and the development of Domain-Specific Languages (DSL's). Some Artificial Intelligence methods such as MINIMAX are briefly covered in the game examples developed in this book. Reader's seeking some understanding of Functional Programing will achieve this understanding in a widely used and classic programming language rather than the more recent and arcane Haskell.

This is a fun and relatively easy ride through one of the oldest higher-level programming languages and one with considerable life still in it. It could form the basis of a child's early programming background or a comprehensive adult's introduction to a powerful Computer Science tool.
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29 of 31 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good book but moves quickly April 17, 2011
By Dustin
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
As a person who doesn't know Lisp, I bought this book hoping it would be a good place to start learning, but I feel like a person should have some familiarity with Lisp before reading this. I'm 6 chapters in and the pacing seems weird. I flew through the first 3 or 4 chapters but around chapters 4 or 5 new concpets started getting introduced really quickly. Also, I wish there was more emphasis on where were going with the game when coding it. I feel a little lost while I'm writing the code. I've concluded that the best way to go through this book for me is to read each chapter, then read it again while working through the code. I guess I just need a little more hand holding then this book provides. It is funny, I love the cartoons and I think if someone had a little familiarity with Lisp it would be a great book for them. I'd also like to see programming challenges at the end of each chapter to help reinforce what was learned. At the end of the day this book isn't bad but I'd start with The Little Schemer (which I'm reading now and is awesome), then move onto one of the free Lisp books online, then read this.
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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars You need this book! November 12, 2010
This is an amazing book. If you are interested in seeing what Lisp is about I would argue that this is the best possible place to start.

Although there are many wonderful books about common lisp, Land of Lisp stands above others for beginners because its explanations are clear and its fun to read. And, if you need a break from reading, perhaps you can play a game - one you just wrote.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Oh Man, You Guys
Seriously, this is awesome. Lisp dialects are different to the "semicolon languages" of C, C++, Python and so on, but don't let that intimidate you. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Matthew D Mather
5.0 out of 5 stars “Land of Lisp: Learn to Program in LISP, One Game at a Time!” by...
“Land of Lisp” purports to be a book that teaches programming, in this case LISP through games. And though it does that to varying extents throughout, the beauty of the book is... Read more
Published 6 months ago by Marc Zucker
5.0 out of 5 stars Lisp is great
Great book for learning lisp just follow up with practical lisp. Also on a side note I recommend you use Linux for this as I found it was much easier. Read more
Published 7 months ago by John
4.0 out of 5 stars Start your functional programming life here . . . if you dare. . . .
This is probably the exact opposite treatment of Lisp than "The Little Schemer" or "Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Olwe Melwasul
4.0 out of 5 stars Quality Intro to an Interesting Language
As a programmer, I have always been curious about Lisp even though I have never used it in courses or even on hobby projects. Read more
Published 10 months ago by IADev
5.0 out of 5 stars Fun and educational
I am an intermediate lisper and really enjoyed this book. I recommend it to anyone who is interested in learning this language in a fun way.
Published 11 months ago by Poczkodi Gábor
5.0 out of 5 stars beauty
Just such a breath of fresh air and creativity here. As awesome and as fun as it is definitely non trivial experience learning lisp. Read more
Published 11 months ago by Vivace
2.0 out of 5 stars Didn't get past page 30...
I love programming. I know a dozen languages and am working on a PhD in Computer Science. I know a little Lisp, but have never written a "real" (large) program in it. Read more
Published 13 months ago by Michael Nahas
5.0 out of 5 stars I really enjoyed this book
Land of Lisp includes within it the same sense of quirky brilliance that you remember in your favorite computer science or physics gurus. Read more
Published 17 months ago by M. Helmke
5.0 out of 5 stars Well done in every way
This book provides an excellent way to learn Lisp programming. The game programming examples are much more interesting than I expected--brilliant and elegant introductions to... Read more
Published 17 months ago by James M Baker
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Topic From this Discussion
Which dialect of Lisp?
The book uses Common Lisp for its examples, though there are discussions of other dialects included as well. You can find out more here:
Jul 26, 2010 by Stephen D. |  See all 2 posts
If you buy from the publisher they include the ebook PDF Be the first to reply
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