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For those who fear that the Internet/e-readers/whatever-form-of-t echnological-upheaval-is-coming has killed or will kill paper and ink, Sloan's debut novel will come as good news. A denizen of the tech world and self-described "media inventor" (formerly he was part of the media partnerships team at Twitter), Sloan envisions a San Francisco where piracy and paper are equally useful, and massive data-visualization-processing abilities coexist with so-called "old knowledge." Really old: as in one of the first typefaces, as in alchemy and the search for immortality. Google has replaced the Medici family as the major patron of art and knowledge, and Clay Jannon, downsized graphic designer and once-and-future nerd now working the night shift for bookstore owner Mr. Penumbra, finds that mysteries and codes are everywhere, not just in the fantasy books and games he loved as a kid. With help from his friends, Clay learns the bookstore's idiosyncrasies, earns his employer's trust, and uses media new, old, and old-old to crack a variety of codes. Like all questing heroes, Clay takes on more than he bargained for and learns more than he expected, not least about himself. His story is an old-fashioned tale likably reconceived for the digital age, with the happy message that ingenuity and friendship translate across centuries and data platforms. Agent: Sarah Burnes, the Gernert Company. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Sloan's first novel features many weighty themes, including immortality and the concept of the singularity, while asking what happens when technological growth becomes exponential and computers self-aware. Protagonist Clay Jannon is a dotcom--bust survivor who finds a job in a mysterious San Francisco bookstore run by Ajax Penumbra-. The bookstore is the haunt of a secret society that exists to decode an ancient codex by the famous Venetian printer Aldus- Manutius. With the help of Penumbra-, childhood friend Neel, and new girlfriend, Kat, who works at Google, our feckless hero tries to solve the puzzle. Things don't turn out as planned, even when all the processing power of Google is applied to decoding Manutius's codex. Our hero saves the day by digging deeper and finding the true code. The answer isn't all that everyone thought it would be, but it is an answer. VERDICT Though the depiction of Google as a utopian meritocracy seems rather farcical, Sloan has created an arch tale knitting the analog past with the digital future that is compelling and readable. [See Prepub Alert, 4/9/12.]-Henry Bankhead, Los Gatos Lib., CA (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.
When Clay Jannon, a jobless website designer, applies to work the night shift at Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore, he must promise not to open any of the volumes shelved in the dimly lit, way-back stacks that stretch to the ceiling. These titles are only for members of a book club, who arrive periodically in the wee, small hours to trade one obscure manuscript for another. But it doesn't take long before boredom and curiosity gets the better of Clay. Between occasional customers, he designs a 3-D virtual replica of the store on his laptop and discovers a pattern to the borrowing and more questions than answers when he finally cracks one of the dusty tomes. Sloan has crafted a delightful modern-day fantasy adventure, replacing warriors, wizards, and rogues with a Silicon Valley entrepreneur, a Googler, and a book clerk. Even nongeeks will appreciate the technological wizardry used by Clay and his sidekicks as they jet from San Francisco to New York in an attempt to unlock the secret message encrypted in a mysterious pattern of codes.--Holcomb, Diane Copyright 2010 Booklist