It’s almost a year to the day since I happened to stumble upon Annabel Scheme and spent the day engaged and enthralled.
I was already a huge fan of Mr Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore/Ajax Penumbra 19691 and – if it’s any mark of appreciation for this superb author’s capabilities – I accidentally read Sourdough straight through today after it magically appeared on my Kindle this morning (I pre-ordered it a few weeks back). This is becoming a bit of a habit now.
There is a wonderful variety in Robin Sloan‘s choices of subject matter and Sourdough simply reinforeces this. The protagonist finds herself draw to a high tech firm in San Francisco and in that there’s some obvious connections to the other works, but in this instance our heroine is particularly open to new experiences and embarks on a wonderful journey in technology (‘nothing is natural’ and everything is natural), biochemistry and a rich social web. I remain unsure as to whether this novel is written in the present or some not too distant future.
I was struck by some familiar echoes of 52 Loaves and although there is a wonderful exploration and discovery of the space between the literal and the figurative when it comes to the culture starter symbiosis and the finer points of baking a loaf….there’s may more happening in this novel than this and Sloan takes the reader on a deeply engaging journey – and thoughtfully/mendaciously leaves a wonderful series of unanswered questions and lots of room to continue to ponder.
There’s a wonderful sense of magic and the supernatural in Sloan’s writing – probably some of the most evocative that I have ever found in English. It seems more common in Spanish authors. Sloan is a literary wizard and I await his next incantation.