Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore: A Novel

Robin Sloan
A gleeful and exhilarating tale of global conspiracy, complex code-breaking, high-tech data visualization, young love, rollicking adventure, and the secret to eternal life—mostly set in a hole-in-the-wall San Francisco bookstoreThe Great Recession has shuffled Clay Jannon out of his life as a San Francisco Web-design drone—and serendipity, sheer curiosity, and the ability to climb a ladder like a monkey has landed him a new gig working the night shift at Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore. But after just a few days on the job, Clay begins to realize that this store is even more curious than the name suggests. There are only a few customers, but they come in repeatedly and never seem to actually buy anything, instead “checking out” impossibly obscure volumes from strange corners of the store, all according to some elaborate, long-standing arrangement with the gnomic Mr. Penumbra. The store must be a front for something larger, Clay concludes, and soon he’s embarked on a complex analysis of the customers’ behavior and roped his friends into helping to figure out just what’s going on. But once they bring their findings to Mr. Penumbra, it turns out the secrets extend far outside the walls of the bookstore.With irresistible brio and dazzling intelligence, Robin Sloan has crafted a literary adventure story for the twenty-first century, evoking both the fairy-tale charm of Haruki Murakami and the enthusiastic novel-of-ideas wizardry of Neal Stephenson or a young Umberto Eco, but with a unique and feisty sensibility that’s rare to the world of literary fiction. Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore is exactly what it sounds like: an establishment you have to enter and will never want to leave, a modern-day cabinet of wonders ready to give a jolt of energy to every curious reader, no matter the time of day.

Reviews

Reviewed: 2018-04-21
What happens when old books meet the google generations. This is a magical tale that sounds like a fantasy but based in reality. Amazing and has hope for the future of man and books
Reviewed: 2016-11-01
to-read
Reviewed: 2015-04-08
A lovely book for the eternal learner, bibliophile, techie, sci-fi fanatic, fantasy lover, or friend. It takes a few pages to get into the rhythm of the jargon, buzzwords, and brand names but there's a fun story and good people in this book.
It’s “Cryptonomicon” (by Neal Stephenson) for dummies…

This book became one of my favourite nerdish SF novels of the last couple of years: Ruby programming language, unimaginable computer power (aka Google…), secrets behind bookshelves, geekery, role playing games, data visualization techniques, mobile ads, algorithmy and typography. There was almost nothing (sort of…) in this book that I didn't love.

The part of the quest to NY that the protagonist tackles seemed somewhat rushed, aided along by multiple deus ex machinas. Unfortunately there were a few other problems as well, ie, the book was a little too heavy on cryptograms and a little too light on being a fiction novel. I badly wanted for this book to be great, but unfortunately it wasn’t.

Nevertheless it was a bit of a romp. It’s spoken to my geeky heart…

One of my favourite one-liners: "Books used to be pretty high-tech, back in the day."
A lovely book for the eternal learner, bibliophile, techie, sci-fi fanatic, fantasy lover, or friend. It takes a few pages to get into the rhythm of the jargon, buzzwords, and brand names but there's a fun story and good people in this book.
Item Posts
@allymiranda
@allymiranda completed #mrpenumbras24hou... on 2017-08-15
@allymiranda
@allymiranda began #mrpenumbras24hou... on 2017-08-09