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Author Topic: EP215: Mr. Penumbra’s Twenty-Four-Hour Book Store  (Read 11369 times)
Russell Nash
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« on: September 10, 2009, 12:23:35 AM »

EP215: Mr. Penumbra’s Twenty-Four-Hour Book Store

By Robin Sloan.
Read by Stephen Eley.
First appeared at Robin Sloan’s blog, June 8, 2009.

IT’S 2:02 A.M. ON A COLD SUMMER NIGHT.

I’m sitting in a book store next to a strip club.

Not that kind of book store. The inventory here is incredibly old and impossibly rare. And it has a secret—a secret that I might have just discovered.

I am alone in the store. And then, tap-tap, suddenly I’m not.

And now I’m pretty sure I’m about to snap my laptop shut, run screaming out the front door, and never return.


Rated G. May contain creepy imagery and disturbing data visualizations.



Listen to this week’s Escape Pod!
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Robin Sure
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« Reply #1 on: September 10, 2009, 02:12:43 PM »

Good story, though it feels like it's trying a little hard on the tech side.. But that music is horrifically distracting. Please don't do it again.

Having now listened to all of it, it seems the music shuts up partway into the story, which is nice.

And Alasdair is easily my favourite host, so feel free to head that way.
« Last Edit: September 10, 2009, 02:56:02 PM by Robin Sure » Logged
zephram
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« Reply #2 on: September 10, 2009, 08:30:38 PM »

Amazing - Just found this story the other day when I came across Robin's page on Kickstarter, and though "Gosh, that'd make a great story for Escape Pod". Enjoyed the reading, although I too agree that less is more when it comes to narration.
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SFEley
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« Reply #3 on: September 11, 2009, 12:58:13 AM »

Good story, though it feels like it's trying a little hard on the tech side.. But that music is horrifically distracting. Please don't do it again.

Music?
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Robin Sure
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« Reply #4 on: September 11, 2009, 03:26:45 AM »

The music carried on, really low, into the first couple of minutes of the story. It felt as if you were still doing the intro while the story started, and I posted that within the same couple of minutes, as it was difficult to concentrate on the story. It shuts up about 4:53.
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oddpod
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« Reply #5 on: September 11, 2009, 05:37:40 AM »

a fab tail,
going to rob this one silly for an rpg i am runing :-)
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Gia
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« Reply #6 on: September 11, 2009, 10:59:37 AM »

It reminded me of The Book in the Earth(from Pseudopod last year) in as far as it has a guy working in a book store that sells old, strange books to weirdos in the middle of the night. I have now renewed my ambition to work in a book store that sells old, strange books to weirdos in the middle of the night. Grin Best job ever!

I do like the part about how books equal immortality, but it reminds me about how I sometimes think of all the books that have ever been written and how most will be forgotten in half a century if they don't become a classic or the authors become super famous. *Sigh*
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amaroman
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« Reply #7 on: September 11, 2009, 02:16:35 PM »

i loved this story, really got me thinking about books. it was nice to think of books making you live for ever and that in away this is true. it was nice the way the story built as it went on from finding the pattens on the book sales to the pattens in the people that bought the books.
and yes there was music running at the begining of the story and it distracted me from the story a little
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BrianDeacon
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« Reply #8 on: September 11, 2009, 03:22:07 PM »

"Why yes, girl with chestnut hair cropped to your chin and a red t-shirt with the word “BAM!” printed in mustard yellow, I am into data visualization."

I loved this.  My favorite EP in a very long time.  He has a really good feel for language that translated well to the spoken word.

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Praxis
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« Reply #9 on: September 11, 2009, 03:57:26 PM »

Excellent.
A True (male, or lesbian I suppose) geek's dream story: not only does he happen to meet someone who is also into data visualisation - as one does - but their combined tech-skills provide a paradigm shift for a group of, for want of a better term, adults.

And I agree with Steve about this being fantasy and sci-fi (though the fantasy part is fairly hammered home - the exact method that story=immortality are kept vague but important).

I have to say that the setting of the story - post(ish) recession, the use of Google, modern day - gave the story a slightly creepy feel.  Like those Japanese automatons that are not quite real, and so emphasis how strange they are, this story emphasised it's strangeness by, in most other respects, being exactly like places that exist today.  We really, possibly, might just get a job in a dodgy old bookstore and spend our time dreaming of googly data visualisations.

One part of the story that I wasn't so convinced by was the possibility of someone really creating a mental, or otherwise, plan of the book buying and habits so that it would create a face.  With a computer, speeded up, simulation for sure, but really having the whole process in your head like that.....I dunno.

But I loved it.  And I want to meet more people with BAM! on their t-shirts.
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lmorchard
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« Reply #10 on: September 11, 2009, 04:17:25 PM »

Good story, though it feels like it's trying a little hard on the tech side.. But that music is horrifically distracting. Please don't do it again.

Music?

For the first 5 min or so of the story, Daikaiju carried on in the background very quietly.
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lmorchard
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« Reply #11 on: September 11, 2009, 04:23:09 PM »

One of the things I loved in this story was the idealized version of the Google campus.  I've been there a bunch, so when I started hearing about crystal spires and whatnot I did a double take.  But then, I realized that this is all about what everyone probably thinks about when they imagine what it's like at Google. 

It also made me wonder about the whole theme of making something memorable that people carry into the future as immortality. The story changes and gets embellished with every telling, so I wonder how many of those immortal people are exactly the same as they'd been in their mortal lives - or how many of them had survived into the future as embellished versions of themselves?
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deflective
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« Reply #12 on: September 11, 2009, 04:25:58 PM »

definitely the most topical episode of ep; i just had a discussion about the controversy around google's book scanning a couple weeks ago.  it's fantastic that an sf podcast can enter the current dialogue.

it sounds like it may take a perfect storm of electronic media to get a story like this published but, please, more of the same!
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ajames
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« Reply #13 on: September 11, 2009, 07:10:44 PM »

Loved this - and loved hearing Steve narrate again. Two thumbs up!
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SFEley
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« Reply #14 on: September 11, 2009, 08:28:21 PM »

The music carried on, really low, into the first couple of minutes of the story. It felt as if you were still doing the intro while the story started, and I posted that within the same couple of minutes, as it was difficult to concentrate on the story. It shuts up about 4:53.

Argh.  Thank you.  That was an editing flub I'd missed.  Some people claim that there's Soundtrack Pro's envelope tool to blame, but I know it's my own damn fault.

It's fixed now.  Anyone downloading from the blog post after this point will get the corrected version.  I didn't want to inflict a whole new 32 megs on everyone who already had it, but if it's driving you nuts, please do feel free to grab it again.  I'm sorry for the inconvenience, and again, sincere thanks for bringing it to my attention.
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mairlistening
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« Reply #15 on: September 11, 2009, 10:33:52 PM »

I loved this story, and I might never have heard of it if you hadn't picked it up for EP. So, thanks for that!

The organic crystal Google building: lol.
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Talia
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« Reply #16 on: September 12, 2009, 01:35:58 PM »

This was a lot of fun. One thing though.. maybe someone can explain it to me, because it just went RIGHT over my head..

When Mr. Penumbra was asking the narrator if he'd read any of the books in the store, the narrator's response was along the lines of "Of course not! That's rule number 3! My cousin just moved to Florida because they're closing the state of  Michigan! I follow the rules!"

uh.

Can someone explain that middle part to me? As far as I can tell its a COMPLETE nonsequitor. I don't understand at all.
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SFEley
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« Reply #17 on: September 12, 2009, 01:39:42 PM »

When Mr. Penumbra was asking the narrator if he'd read any of the books in the store, the narrator's response was along the lines of "Of course not! That's rule number 3! My cousin just moved to Florida because they're closing the state of  Michigan! I follow the rules!"

Michigan is one of the states hit hardest by the current recession.  Mostly because they're so dependent on the auto industry.  The narrator was saying that in this economy, he wasn't going to do anything that might jeopardize his job.
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Talia
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« Reply #18 on: September 12, 2009, 02:00:27 PM »

Ok, that makes sense, thanks. I hadn't been connecting the story with the actual state of the world today at all.
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etchlings
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« Reply #19 on: September 12, 2009, 11:14:28 PM »

This story is a phenomenal introduction for me to the EscapePod milieu. Thank you for adapting that story to audio!

What a great tale, all told... though I agree with the opinion that the tech stuff is kinda heavy-handed.

Wanna see THAT google campus.
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