Saturday, September 12, 2009

Having Dinner with Mr. Penumbra

SciFi is fun, and, I think, its authors, readers, and enjoyers (enjoiers??) are some of the most creative minds in the world - looking to both the past and the future with equal hope and tribulation.

A while back I discovered (as much as I could discover something that has been around for a while and already has a wide readership, but whatever) a podcast-based Sci Fi magazine, Escape Pod, which finds interesting short stories and creates audio recordings of them. Not only is it interesting because of the science fiction aspect, but what a wonderful idea! Bringing together, from different sources all sorts of stories and presenting them in yet another media - audio. (written word-digital world-audio presentation)

The reason I bring up this particular episode... the title got me! Yes, I was sucked in by the title: Mr Penumbra's Twenty-four Hour Book Store, written by Robin Sloan.

Imagine working graveyard shift at a 24-hour bookstore!! Now that has to be a little slice of heaven! But the story that develops out of this tingle-worthy title has given me pause as, of all things, a librarian.

Libraries pride themselves on being the eternal (or as close as we can get) depository of information, ideas. If you listen or read this story, you will discover that the author is fascinated with the notion of living forever through and in ones work. Writing "Make something that will last... and you will live forever."

How does something last? Through the author's own words and images in a passive way? Or through someone elses active, thoughtful efforts?

That is actually not a particularly interesting set of questions, so I'll leave them there like dangling participles.

A little further in the story Mr. Penumbra says: "Just because it is changing doesn't mean it is over."

My frustration with other librarians not willing to see (? create ?) a place for themselves in the future, amongst digital collections and podcasts, is that they seem to see this change as the end. But, as I've written here, here and elsewhere, without the change we have no future - it is an opportunity to redefine ourselves and our trade in this world.

Creativity, reading, writing and even librarianship are not dead, not done - they are changing, that is all.

So, if you have an hour, listen to this story - I still can't get over the awesomeness that would be that book shop... though you would have to staple me to a chair to prevent me from reading the books!

1 comment:

  1. Hey Heather -- Robin here (author of the story) -- just wanted to say thanks for the shout-out, and for the thoughtful comments! And I'm really glad Mr. Penumbra's little world came alive for you a bit; your last line made me grin: "...though you would have to staple me to a chair to prevent me from reading the books!"