Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore


by Robin Sloan

Picador, New York 2013

  • It’s very quiet. I set my chin in my palm and count my friends and wonder what else is hiding in plain sight.
  • The relationship between book and reader is private.
  • So uncool it’s cool again.
  • If this sounds impressive to you, you’re over thirty.
  • We probably just imagine things based on what we already know and we run out of analogies in the 31st- century.
  • Fingers of thought are raking the space behind the cushions, looking for ideas, finding nothing.
  • Let me give you some advice: make friends with a millionaire when he’s a friendless sixth-grader.
  • These guys don’t just fly under the radar; they’re subterranean.
  • Nothing lasts long. We all come to life and gather allies and build empires and die, all in a single moment – maybe a single pulse of some giant processor somewhere.
  • What’s our greatest question? … How do you live forever?
  • Walking the stacks in a library, dragging your fingers across the spines – it’s hard not to feel the presence of sleeping spirits.
  • People believe weirder things than this.
  • Every day you learn something amazing… and you realize there’s  so much more that’s waiting.  Eighty years  isn’t enough.  Or a hundred.  Whatever.  It’s just not.
  • Magic is not the only power in this world.
  • It feels like no time because you’re thinking so hard…  There’s so much information to absorb and it comes so fast.
  • I walk alone in the darkness and wonder how a person would begin to determine the circumference of the earth.  I have no idea.  I’d probably just google it.
  • Sometimes discipline is the truest form of kindness.
  • Getting stolen is one of the best things that can happen to an object.  Stolen stuff recirculates.  Stays out of the ground.
  • How would you find a needle in a haystack?  “I would ask the hays to find it.”
  • The whole world is just a patchwork quilt of crazy little cults, all with their own secret spaces, their own records, their own rules.
  • I did not expect to know the truth in my lifetime.  It is a gift beyond measure.
  • There is no immortality that is not built on friendship and work done with care.
  • All the secrets in the world worth knowing are hiding in plain sight.
  • Your life must be an open city, with all sorts of ways to wander in.
  • The book will fade, the way all books fade in your mind.
  • I am speaking of the willingness to entertain absurd ideas.  It is a habit that is highly prized.
  • The measure of a bookstore is not its receipts, but its friends.
  • It’s not over until you hold the book’s ashes in your hands, weeping at the years you’ve lost.


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