Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore: The perfect nerdish fantasy
Robin Sloan's Mr Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore is one of those instant geek classics that gets right into the romance and magic of high-tech, a book akin to Cryptonomicon or Microserfs.
Robin Sloan's Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore is one of those instant geek classics that gets right into the romance and magic of high-tech, a book akin to Cryptonomicon or Microserfs. It's the story of Clay Jannon, a broke ex-high-tech worker who gets a night-shift job in poky, weird bookstore whose highest shelves are stocked with curious ancient volumes, These books are only ever requested by furtive, weird customers who come in the middle of the night and request them by name, and it's Clay's job ot scale the rolling ladders that run the length of the shelves to retrieve them.
Thus begins the setup of a book that explores cryptic codes (the books are filled with odd, incomprehensible type), the awesome might of parallel computation (Clay's girlfriend, a Googler, helps him recruit untold computing power to put to work on deciphering the mystery of the books and the customers), secret societies (the furtive customers who come in the night), and the quest for immortality through the ages (a subject I can't write much about without getting into major spoiler territory).
This is what a book like The DaVinci Code could be if its author loved the world, rather than resenting it. This is a geek's love poem to the twenty-first century, to design, to networks, and to the delightful world of problems with chewy, crunchy solutions. Every page is filled with sweet humor and delightful, dorktastic people who are nerding out in the very best way about the stuff that matters to them.
Mr Penumbra is, at the end, a book about passion -- for books, for history, for the future. It's full of (often made-up) technological details that nevertheless ring true, the kind of stuff that nerds fantasize about doing a lot, and get to do a lucky once in a while. It's the perfect nerdish fantasy, full of secrets behind bookstore shelves, unimaginable computational power, and deep geekery about RPGs, dataviz, narrow-targetted mobile ads, and typography. There is nothing in this book that I didn't love.
Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore: A Novel
I’m touring 20 US cities (plus dates in Canada and the UK!) with my forthcoming novel Walkaway; the full tour hasn’t been announced yet, but I’m delighted to reveal that the NYC stop on May 3 will be at the New York Public Library, where my interlocutor will be the whistleblower Edward Snowden. Tickets are […]
dj BC writes, “In 2006 I mixed a bunch of New Orleans artists with Wu Tang rappers to make the record ‘Wu Orleans.’ 11 years later, here’s part two, with ten new songs. Free MP3 download of both albums here. A very limited run of vinyl with all 20 Wu Orleans songs on two records, […]
In 1937, a judge quietly asked Meyer Lansky to form a squad of Nazi-punching gangsters to raid Bund meetings
Meyer Lansky was an infamous and ruthless gangster — albeit one so personally charming that his life is chronicled in a book called But He Was Good to His Mother — and no friend of New York State Judge Nathan Perlman; nevertheless, as the Nazi-supporting German-American Bund staged more and more toxic rallies in New […]
DJI is the world’s leading designer and producer of easy-to-fly drones and aerial photography systems. If you’re a drone enthusiast, you want a DJI. If you know absolutely nothing about drones and think they’re weird, if you win a DJI you’re going to become a drone enthusiast.Enter this giveaway (for free, yes) and you’ll get a […]
Although there will never be a consensus about the best way to make coffee, any coffee connoisseur will agree that controlling the grind of your beans and balancing water temperature are the keys to a tasty cup. Since your plastic coffee pot doesn’t really allow for that kind of customization, going back to the French […]
Not all hackers are malicious information thieves—white-hat ethical hackers work with technology companies to ensure the security of their computer systems and user data. With all of today’s high-profile data breaches, ethical hackers are in considerable demand. To learn these critical skills and break into the high-paying cyber security field, try taking the courses in this […]