Robin Sloan’s Sourdough is a precious thing. It’s a novel set in the Bay Area about the making of a mysterious bread and the programming of an artificial intelligence for a robotic hand. I would mention something more about the protagonist or the main drive of the plot but I don’t want to spoil even a moment of the book. But to be quite honest though, I was a little worried before I picked up my copy since Robin’s previous work with Mr Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore and its prequel Ajax Penumbra: 1969 are amongst my very favorites. So there was a niggling concern in the back of my mind; would this story be as delightful as those two previous thrillers?
Well, I’m delighted to report that yes, Sourdough is unequivocally brilliant.
The only thing I’ll mention about it is that, on returning to Robin’s prose, it’s sort of like picking up a P.G. Wodehouse story once again. Somehow you’ve forgotten how stories are capable of being jovial, light hearted or funny and you suddenly realize how not every story needs to be a violent, dystopian apocalypse where monsters rip each other to pieces in every scene. Instead, in a delightful twist, everyone and everything in the universe of Sourdough buzzes with enthusiasm. And it’s this sort of Parks and Recreation-esque sensibility that makes it almost impossible to put down — I think I read the book in three big gulps (which is especially rare for me these days).
In short, you should preorder Robin’s book immediately.
Also, attention San Francisco folk! Robin is speaking at Green Apple Books on the Park on 9/7 and I will most certainly be there to hear tales of books, machine learning and this mysterious sourdough bread.