Mr. Penumbra’s … A Review

I’ve been stalking watching Robin Sloan for a while now. He apparently lives in San Francisco when he’s not on the Internets. Robin wrote and posted online a short story called Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore, back in 2009. I read it shortly thereafter, and was greatly pleased by the characters, the settings, and the plotting. All-in-all, one of the tightest, shiniest short stories I’ve read in a long, long time.

So, when Robin headed down the Kickstarter path with his first dead trees work, the novella entitled Annabel Scheme, I jumped on the bandwagon, and supported his effort with real moola. It’s good to be a patron of the Arts*.

Recently, all this attention and excitement got Robin into the eyes of a publisher. The opportunity¬†blossomed, and expressed itself as a novel-length version of that original short I loved so much. Now you can buy it online, here, for example. There’s also B&N, and some other¬† little online bookseller that probably has stock, too. Amazon? Yeah, probably. Anyway… Putting glow-in-the-dark book stacks on the slipcover is genius, by the way.

Last night, when I should have put the book down and turned out the lights, I carried on reading through to the end of this wonderful tale. It’s like Robin took the perfect little doll house version of the tale, and scaled it up into a proper people-scale edifice worthy of living in for a while. I can hang out in different rooms, and see many more wondrous sights from all the new angles and perspectives that the more capacious novel provides.

Our hero is still diffident, his girl is still a genius, and Penumbra still is … but the horizons are much further out, and the tale’s changed to accommodate the expansion. New characters are woven in and out of the fabric of the story – you can see the short story in there still, but it’s got a lot of new friends. Some of them are likeable, some less so, much like the folks in all of our lives. The blurring and bending of reality at the intersection of old technology (books and moveable type) and new technology (the Internet and extreme-scale computational power) is more pointedly the focus of the story, now, and that’s no bad thing. It hits a demographic that’s likely to work really well for Robin’s writing career.

One more thing about Penumbra’s: it’s a good world, too. Robin has room to grow more stories in that space, if he wants. Annabel Scheme is in a related universe, but only just. I look forward to his next work, and the next. Does Robin mind if I put such expectations on his time? I hope not.

Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore. Robin Sloan. (Farrar, Straus and Giroux: New York. 2012). Highly Recommended!

*¬† Patron of the Arts – I’ve been supporting authors and musicians, mostly, with my entertainment dollars. Just because something can be had for free (like the PDF edition of Annabel Scheme), doesn’t mean I don’t go buy the Kindle version instead. Okay, not true – I got the signed dead tree edition from Robin via the Kickstarter. Today, driving home, iTunes offered up Amanda Palmer, then Zoe Keating … two more artists I’ve been paying as directly as possible. I want them to keep working, which means mortgage and food and such, so supporting artists I love is important to me. I hope it is for (some of) you, too!

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About bilborg

I am who I am, there's plenty of data on this site to tell you more. Briefly, I'm a husband, computer geek, avid reader, gardener, and builder of furniture.

2 Responses to Mr. Penumbra’s … A Review

  1. You forgot to mention that the title of the book GLOWS IN THE DARK!! How fun is that?!?!?