MR PENUMBRA'S 24-HOUR BOOKSTORE - Robin Sloan
MR PENUMBRA'S 24-HOUR BOOKSTORE actually wasn't a book I was planning on reading, although there were whispers about it everywhere I looked. Then a friend mentioned that they'd enjoyed it and their observations are always spot on, so I thought I'd take a look. And I must admit I found it absolutely fabulous.
Of course there are a lot of elements that would appeal to somebody like me - a passionate love of books, and secrets, and the secrets that books can contain, a geeky sensibility where the solving of puzzles is regarded as perfectly normal, and the realisation that Google is ubiquitous in life. Combine that with some seriously funny observations (Google working on a form of renewable energy that runs on hubris ... snort), Kat trying to read a newspaper and not being able to work out the UI, and the various other not quite so in jokes scattered throughout and, well, it was fun.
It is also a bit of a mystery, a bit of a thriller, a bit of a story of love and longing, and a very big quest.
What's not to love.
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 bookstore
The 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.