MR. PENUMBRA'S 24-HOUR BOOKSTORE by 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
A new clerk arrives for work at Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore in San Francisco: Clay Jannon, reporting for the night shift. There are only a few customers, and the same ones return to the store again and again – but they never actually buy anything. Instead, they borrow impossibly obscure volumes from strange corners of the store, all according to some elaborate arrangement with the gnomic Mr. Penumbra. The store must be a front for something larger…
Clay ropes in his friends – including Neel, a Silicon Valley entrepreneur, and Kat, a data viz specialist at Google – to help him figure out what's really going on at his new job. They discover a specific pattern in the customers' behavior, which in turn leads them to a series of codes. Mr. Penumbra's secrets, it seems, 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, 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 know 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 at any hour.
Robin Sloan grew up near Detroit and now splits his time between San Francisco and the Internet. He graduated from Michigan State with a degree in economics and, from 2002 to 2012, worked at Poynter, Current TV, and Twitter. Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore is his first novel. Www.robinsloan.com. @robinsloan.
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