Robin Sloan | Fiction
I was charmed by this book. Yes, as some reviewers point out, it is a techie's dream book, at the intersection of books, extreme technology, and knowledge. And more than that, it is simply a delightful story.
Clay Jannon takes a job working graveyard shift at Mr.Penumbra’s 24-hour bookstore, where only a few books are ever sold. What really happens occurs in the tall vertical stacks in the back, where assorted characters drop off obscure books and pick up others, that Clay wraps in brown paper. These books are not sold; they are simply exchanged. For a while, Clay obeys the rules and never looks inside these books. Clay’s job, besides climbing the ladder to find the requested book, is to record in the log who took the book, what they were wearing that night, their emotional state, how they smelled, and their words.
Of course, one day Clay looks inside and discovers symbols ... not text at all. And with the help of a Googler, Kat, and various designers, techies, and artists, he begins to discover and unravel the secrets of the Unbroken Spine, a centuries old movement(?), sect (?), cult(?).
Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore is a fable and a fantasy, imbued with amazing real technology, a delightful read, and just plain fun.