Mr Penumbra

Mr Penumbra

Full title?

Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore – Robin Sloan

Strange things are afoot at Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore. Page 50.

There is, in London (UK), a small street, that, 20 years ago, it was a street dedicated to book stores. Centuries of booksellers. New, used, and odd. The first description of Mr. Penumbra’s bookstore made me think about that. Bookstores that feel like bookstores.

If I had to rank book-acquisition experiences in order of comfort, ease, and satisfaction, the list would go like this… Page 14.

I was going to list my favorite bookstore places, but I got sidetracked. There was one, and as I thought about that alley, Cecil’s Court? That sound right? Behind the National Portrait Gallery, short walk from Soho, Trafalgar, and, I can’t recall. But the bookstores, given the price of inner-city real estate? I’m sure that place had been made over into expensive lofts for the internationally wealthy.

City Lights in San Fransisco. Most any Half Price Books, which bears an uncanny similarity to Mr. Penumbra’s in feeling, if not in execution. Aforementioned Changing Hands, but the old store, not the new one.

Only if you worked at Google, right?

I for one welcome our new android overlords. Page 23.

Depends on who, and how one counts, but up to a third of my present day library might be Golden Age Science Fiction, that cross between pulp and brilliance. Many of the books were purchased in seedy storefronts, and some, not without an an ambience similar to Mr. Penumbra’s store, which, comes back to the plot — plus its devices — and then, the question of taxonomy for this novel. Science Fiction set in present day? Fantasy? Magical realism.

And just like the internet today, printing in the fifteenth century was all problems, all the time: How do you store the ink? How do you mix the metal? How do you mold the type? The answers changed every six months. Page 218.

Quasi–historical science–fiction homage — carries a 2012 First Edition date, and the technical stuff is relatively current — except the page scanning. Probably current by 2012 standards, as I recall in 2011, having to execute a contract, printing it out, scanning, then digitizing and e–mailing back the copies.

Fairy–tale happy ending, more or less. For the book, same for that contract in 2011, near the same era.

Excellent summer reading. In that capacity, certainly timeless.


Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore – Robin Sloan

Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore: A Novel


Alternative reading guide.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *