This week's story on the Escape Pod science fiction podcast is a remarkable tale called "Mr. Penumbra's Twenty-Four-Hour Book Store" written by Robin Sloan and billed as a "short story about recession, attraction and data-visualization" and it is fabulous. It's a fantastic, magical realist tale about Google Book Search, magick with a K, an olde curiousity shoppe, and the power of data-visualization. The story was initially self-published on Sloan's blog and was recommended to the Escape Pod editors by a friend, who read it, loved it and bought it. If you enjoyed Ben Rosenbaum's The Ant King: A California Fairy Tale
, you'll love this.
IT'S 2:02 A.M. ON A COLD SUMMER NIGHT.
EP215: Mr. Penumbra's Twenty-Four-Hour Book Store (podcast)
I'm sitting in a book store next to a strip club.
Not that kind of book store. The inventory here is incredibly old and impossibly rare. And it has a secret--a secret that I might have just discovered.
I am alone in the store. And then, tap-tap, suddenly I'm not.
And now I'm pretty sure I'm about to snap my laptop shut, run screaming out the front door, and never return.
* * *
I SHOULD START AT THE BEGINNING.
I lost my job in the slumped-over spring of 2009. I applied for dozens of replacement gigs but was rebuffed, again and again. And I took only the coldest comfort when the companies doing the rebuffing were, themselves, forced out of business months later. I probably couldn't have turned them around single-handedly. Probably.
The job I lost was at the corporate headquarters of the New Amsterdam Bagel Bakery. I designed bagel marketing materials. Menus, coupons, posters for store windows, and, once, an entire booth "experience" for the bagel industry trade show.
I also ran the website.
Now, months into my unemployment, I'd started watching for "help wanted" signs in windows, which is not something you really do, right? I was taught to be suspicious of those. Legitimate employers use Craigslist.
Mr. Penumbra's Twenty-Four-Hour Book Store (text)
It’s Sysadmin Day, when we recognize the tireless, selfless, talented administrators who toil in obscurity and keep every part of our world running: for Boing Boing, that’s Mr Ken Snider, an extraordinarily skilled, patient, and upstanding fellow who has kept Boing Boing running for more than a decade, through thick and thin, and is our […]
Though Richard “Datamancer” Nagy died unexpectedly in 2013, his business partner and family continue to fabricate the extraordinary steampunk designs he pioneered.
MagicPeaceLove writes, “The word ‘inspiring’ gets thrown around a lot but my pal Mahdi Gilbert (previously) really deserves it.
Looks like all of your potential employers are hiring candidates with programming skills (which you don’t have). With all of the languages out there today, it’s tough to know where to start.With the Complete Front-End to Back-End Coding Bundle, you can beef your resume up in all the right places, no confusion necessary. This package of […]
Those of us who love music wish we could listen to it 24/7. But it’s impossible when we’re trying to converse with our friends, or when are swimming in the local pool.That is, until now. The KOAR Bone Conduction Bluetooth Headset, now 48% off, has changed the audio game.Made with lightweight titanium memory metal, this headset boasts patented bone conduction technology to transport sound […]
It’s one thing to enjoy dinner at home and a nice glass of Cabernet Sauvignon with your best friend, Netflix, but it’s another thing entirely to make that meal from scratch and get that wine delivered right to your doorstep.But what if we told you there’s a way to make this possible? To keep your social life, […]