After many months of having it on my Amazon wishlist, I finally bought and read Robin Sloan’s Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore recently.
It is a tale of Traditional Knowledge and Old Knowledge, of printed books existing alongside Google and Wikipedia, of voracious readers and a mysterious cult. One thing ties it all together: the author’s love for the written word, which spills into his characters and speaks to you, as someone who loves books, just as much. Part Harry Potter-esque and partly reminiscent for me of Cory Doctorow’s Makers and Gary Shteyngart’s Super Sad True Love Story, Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore is a modern tale that evokes nostalgia and has as much science as it does fiction. It all makes sense, and yet it doesn’t – or shouldn’t, being a figment of the imagination. And that’s what I love about it – somewhere along the line I felt myself wishing that store really existed so I could go and visit it.
I highlighted quite a few sentences and passages, but here are my favourites:
When every single piece of media you consume is time-shifted, does that mean it’s actually you that’s time-shifted?
With each new mega-project she describes, I feel myself shrink smaller and smaller. How can you stay interested in anything – or anyone – for long when the whole world is your canvas?
She says she has email to read, prototypes to review, wiki pages to edit. Did I really just lose out to a wiki on a Thursday night?
That’s all. This isn’t really a review, you know…