Ajax Penumbra 1969: every bookseller has a story

Ajax Penumbra and Aliette de Bodard have really driven home to me the extent to which I’m enjoying The Ultimate Time Traveler’s Almanac (i.e. not as much), which I’ve been slowly reading since February. The time travel stories are good, they’re fine, but I’m not relishing or affected by the stories or characters.

Ajax Penumbra is simply endearing. Presented here as an awkward college-age and college-grad younger self, the main action focuses on a trip to San Francisco as a Junior Acquisitions Clerk for the Galvanic Library – because there was always room for one more secretive mad book cult – sorry, collector – in the world.

Here Ajax first encounters the 24-Hour Bookstore, meets the already intimidating Marcus Corvina, and blithely the ignores the entertaining and more than slightly worrying asides of his employer, Langston Armitage: “Well, you know our saying: “It’s not over until you hold the book’s ashes in your hands, weeping at the year’s you’ve lost.””

Delightful for those who have already encountered the 24-Hour Bookstore. Probably rather thin as a first point of entry.