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

Stepping off the bustling streets of San Francisco into the dark, antiquated Mr. Penumbra’s Twenty-Four Hour Bookstore to look for a job might seem like an odd choice for a web designer, but the reality of the early 21st century Great Recession leaves Clay Jannon looking for work in whatever capacity he can find it. Realizing almost immediately that this bookstore is even stranger than he initially assumed, he wonders how it is able to stay in business with virtually no customers. Oddest of all is that the regulars who frequent the store never buy anything, and instead spend hours looking through books in seemingly indecipherable languages. Through a web of puzzles, secrets and clandestine meetings, author Robin Sloan explores the links between our modern computer-driven culture and the dynamic and ubiquitous book culture it is predicated on.