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)
New Jersey State Senator Jeff Van Drew wants to run for Congress as a Democrat; he visited 17-year-old Emily McGrath's school, Egg Harbor Township High, where McGrath questioned him about whether he'd taken money from the NRA; Van Drew said he hadn't, and he was lying.
The late, lamented Scottish writer Iain Banks (previously) was several kinds of writer, but one of his main claims to fame is his role in developing the idea of fully automated luxury communism, in his beloved Culture novels, a series of wildly original space operas about a post-singularity, post-scarcity cooperative galactic civilization devoted to games, […]
Connecting voting machines to the internet is a terrible idea: the machines are already notoriously insecure, and once they're online, anyone, anywhere in the world becomes a potential attacker.
Many of us enjoy the aesthetic of vintage electronics, but trying to use most hardware from the 1950’s isn’t necessarily practical. This is especially true where speakers are concerned. While most of us can appreciate the old-school feel of retro speakers, they have a hard time matching the convenience and power delivered by today’s Bluetooth speakers. […]
Python is one of the most popular and versatile programming languages used by developers today, making it an ideal first choice for those looking to kickstart a career in programming. While you could go back to school or sign up for a pricey coding bootcamp, you can learn the essentials of coding with Python at […]
Going back to school isn’t necessarily an option for everyone. Between the time commitments and steep tuition rates, there are obstacles aplenty as far as furthering education is concerned. However, that’s not to say it’s impossible to learn new skills. Excel with Business lets users access thousands of hours of online learning in Microsoft, business, technology, […]