Hasten slowly

© C A Lovegrove

Mr Penumbra’s 24-hour Bookstore
by Robin Sloane.
Atlantic Books, 2014 (2012).

For any nerdy bookworm this must surely prove a delightful read, whether it’s digital, on audio or, indeed, through the medium of print. It’s also entertainingly meta on several levels, and at times with details so convincing I had to do a bit of research to establish what was factual and what was made up.

It’s about books — naturally — but also about not judging a book by its cover; it has a gauche but engaging narrator who likes fantasy, though this novel isn’t a conventional fantasy; there is a villain of sorts who, oddly, doesn’t command an evil empire; and there is an assortment of characters, all highly individual, quirky even, who demonstrate that it takes all sorts to make life interesting without any one of them being treated as a social pariah.

In addition, for a novel that was published a decade ago — since when so much has advanced, technologically speaking — it seems to me, despite being a natural technophobe, that a lot of what’s described in it as possible in terms of computing power feels just about feasible nowadays, remembering that all the action is taking place during an alternative timeline.

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