Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore
This is my first novel, and it grew from a story posted on this very website into a New York Times Best Seller published in more than twenty countries.
It’s a tale of books and technology, cryptography and conspiracy, friendship and love. It begins in a mysterious San Francisco bookstore, but quickly reaches out into the wider world and the shadowed past. I talked about the ideas behind the book on NPR’s Morning Edition and had a real-life bibliophile adventure with the New York Times.
In Blip Magazine, George Saunders called Penumbra
a real tour-de-force, a beautiful fable that is given legs by the author’s bravado use of the real (Google is in there, for instance, the actual campus) to sell us on a shadow world of the unreal and the speculative. Robin Sloan comes across as so bighearted, so in love with the world —
the ancient world, the contemporary world — so in love with love, in love with friendship, in love with the idea that our technical abilities can serve as conduits for beauty, that the reader is swept along by his enthusiasm. It’s a lot of fun — but it’s also a powerful reading experience with a wonderful undeniability.
Ajax Penumbra 1969
Bundled with the latest MCD edition of Penumbra, you’ll find a short prequel. The story is set in San Francisco, August 1969. A young man named Ajax Penumbra arrives on the scene, looking not for free love but rather for a book: a very old volume that might possess strange powers. His search leads him to a tiny bookstore, taller than it is wide …
November 2022, Berkeley