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

Conrad Barski · 8 HN comments
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Amazon Summary
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.
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offered without judgement:
I was wrong. And that book even looks interesting!
Land of the LISP looked fun when I skimmed it at a bookstore. Teaches by building games.

I have it and it's quite ok; very fun to read. I'd recommend it to people who want to jump into Common Lisp and lisps in general, who know at least one other programming language.

That said, it's not as comprehensive as Practical Common Lisp - it covers a bit less of CL, and a bit more of interesting things you can do it.

Appreciate the quick review. Maybe when I re-learn CL Ill use it since I have prior experience. Plus, I just remember it being super, geeky fun in terms of the writing and art.
> Plus, I just remember it being super, geeky fun in terms of the writing and art.

It is! Very fun in art, style and examples used! Has some funny hacks too, like one-page game written mostly in... format.

(And for learning, a particularly useful thing is a two-page loop DSL reference.)

The classic systems were worlds ahead of most modern ones in one very important respect: documentation.

The Tandy/Radio Shack books for the Color Computer series (and it's astoundingly good LOGO implementation) were amazingly clear and concisely written with lots of examples, and because in those days even a disk drive wasn't a guarantee, all the examples were written to be hand-typed and experimented with.

There were even books in those days that aimed to teach kids machine language! [1]

That said, I think Djikstra and Felleisen may be slightly right about the long-term usefulness of old-fashioned BASIC and LOGO for learning, but there are a few books in modern languages that come close.

Hello World![2] was explicitly written to hearken back to those old manuals, by a father aiming to teach his 12-yo son programming with Python.

Land of Lisp[3] and Realm of Racket[4] also call to mind those old books as well, though they're targeting a bit older audience and have their quirks (LoL is a bit in-love with huge nested trees and a-lists in the examples, and Realm of Racket tends to gloss over a lot of the examples and expects you to just read the sample code rather than walking you through the process completely).

The Little Schemer[5] is also a fantastic little book that takes on the form almost of a set of brain-teasers, and teaches recursive thinking entirely by example and in methodical detail. The later chapters can be a bit stumpy, but if you go through the book step by step in regular sessions it builds on itself pretty well.

All of these are aiming at around the 12+ age range though, I don't think there's much out there anymore for anything younger.






Sep 07, 2014 · hvd on Why I like Common Lisp
coincidentally I am working through land of lisp, recommend it: Do I see myself using lisp in production code? Not in the near future. I do think there is value in learning something that exposes you to thinking in different ways, till now what Ive gained is that Python is pretty lispy!
> Python is pretty lispy!

Check this out

Sep 16, 2013 · voodooidoodoo on Lisp Links: Books
I think two books that should be in the list are: Practical Common Lisp (Free): Land of Lisp:

  >> The learning curve is tremendous.
Try "Land of Lisp"
Oct 11, 2010 · sedachv on Why we hate Lisp
'"Learn You A Haskell" is very good, and I haven't seen anything like it for Common Lisp.'

It's actually inspired by Conrad Barski's 'Casting SPELs in Lisp' (, which in turn was inspired by Why's Guide to Ruby (I think). Conrad Barski actually wrote a Haskell comic book tutorial that predates 'Learn you a Haskell' ( Not only that, but Conrad's full-length Lisp tutorial comic book, Land of Lisp, is due to hit the shelves in four days:

Thanks for those links!
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