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Robin Sloan

Robin SloanRobin Sloan grew up near Detroit and now splits his time between San Francisco and the internet. He graduated from Michigan State with a degree in economics and, from 2002 to 2012, worked at Poynter, Current TV, and Twitter.

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Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore: About the intersection of books and technology

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

Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore is a romp of a first novel by Robin Sloan. It’s a perfect book for booklovers who lean toward the mysterious and fantastic, blurring genre lines throughout to afford readers a marvelous time.

The novel begins when Clay Jannon, the first-person narrator, is responding to an advertisement for a clerk in a 24-hour bookstore in San Francisco. Clay was educated as a graphic artist, but he’s finding jobs scarce since his work designing a logo and a website for a bagel bakery and acting as the “voice” of @NewBagel on Twitter — definitely a new economy sort of job. When the bakery went bust along with the rest of the economy less than a year after Clay took the job, he was left jobless with a very slim resume. So the help wanted ad in the window of the bookstore seems like a godsend, even though Clay questions whether the bookstore is a... Read More

Annabel Scheme: A short, clever high-tech thriller

Annabel Scheme by Robin Sloan

Set in an alternate world in which Google's place is filled by a company called Grail (a brilliant name for a search engine, by the way), and Wikipedia's by "Open Britannica," Robin Sloan’s Annabel Scheme is difficult to categorize. Is it a detective novel? An urban fantasy? A technothriller with a touch of cyberpunk? It's all of those at once. It reminds me a little of Charles Stross's LAUNDRY FILES novels with the mix of high technology and demons.

Annabel Scheme is narrated by an AI in the Watson role, observing events through detective Annabel Scheme's high-tech earrings. That's clever, because the point of view follows Scheme and yet isn't her POV. It also means, though, that t... Read More

Sourdough: Celebrates the appreciation of excellent food

Reposting to include Marion's new review.

Sourdough by Robin Sloan

I really loved Robin Sloan’s Sourdough (2017), but not everyone will. You probably will if you’re a foodie (I am), an introvert (I am), and a bit geeky (I am). If you love sourdough bread (I do) and magical realism (I do), you’ve just got to read Sourdough. And you must try the audio version. It’s amazing.

Lois is new to San Francisco. She moved from Michigan, where she grew up, and she’s starting a job as a programmer of robotic arms at a tech company where everyone works so hard that they basically have no other life. Most of them just eat a nutritive slurry rather than bothering to plan, shop, and prepare meals.

Most nights Lois orders her dinner ... Read More

SHORTS: Vernon, Sloan, Parker, Poe, Wood, Bear

There is so much free or inexpensive short fiction available on the internet these days. Here are a few stories we read this week that we wanted you to know about.

"Jackalope Wives" by Ursula Vernon (2014, free at Apex Magazine, podcast available)

Ursula Vernon's "Jackalope Wives" is the winner of this year's Nebula Award and World Fantasy Award for short story and deservedly so. It certainly has my vote. It isn't clear where the story is set. All we know is that on the outskirts of town lies a desert, and in the desert the jackalope wives comes out at night to dance a wild dance. What are jackalope wives? This isn't immediately clear, we are drip fed tantalising details of their long ears and smooth coats which they shed in order to dance. They entrance the young men of the town and one in particular. But what happens when you catch a jackalope wife is ... Read More