Ajax Penumbra 1969 by Robin Sloan
Welcome to Saturday Shorts! In this novelette, the reader is introduced to Ajax Penumbra, who is the bookstore owner in Mr. Penumbra’s 24-hour Bookstore, also by Robin Sloan.
Publisher’s Description: August 1969 San Francisco. Ajax Penumbra seeks a book — the single surviving copy of the Techne Tycheon, a mysterious volume that has brought and lost great fortune for anyone who has owned it. Late one night, after another day of dispiriting dead ends, he stumbles across a 24-hour bookstore, and the possibilities before him expand exponentially.
Possible spoilers beyond this point.
Agent Annie says…
Ajax Penumbra is every bit as interesting as a young man as he is 25 years later in his bookstore. Whether you’ve read the original or are just being introduced to Mr. Penumbra, you won’t be disappointed by this story.
This particular story follows Ajax as a young man from somewhere in the Midwest who goes off to school and ends up becoming a Junior Acquisitions Officer for the vast library. His first assignment takes him to San Francisco where he follows the trail of an old manuscript. He is also introduced to the secret society.
The story is fun, filled with historical descriptions and mystery. It’s very satisfying because the reader knows that Ajax will be THE Mr. Penumbra of the bookstore in the later story. I give this book a 5 and would recommend you read the original story too. I would continue to read about this character and follow what happens with the mystery of the bookstore and the great library.