Tag Archives: Technology

Sourdough by Robin Sloan

“There’s a living thing, a culture. I guess it’s more American to say ‘starter.” You mix the starter with the flour along with water and salt, and it makes gas, which makes the dough rise. It gives it a certain flavor, too.”  — Beoreg from Sourdough

Start with the essence of friendship, mix in culture, add a pinch of magic, flavor it with a dash of spunk, and you have the beginnings of an adventurous journey that will take the reader from big industry to big dough, the food variety.

Lois Clary is a single young woman, working in the tech industry, still a man’s world, as a software programmer in California.  Life has become repetitive for her, the same task at work, then home, only to get up the next day and do it all over again. There is some small comfort in the form of two brothers who run the local restaurant and catering service.  Sharing good food and pleasant company is her one bright spot in the day.

That is until the brothers must close their restaurant and return home to their home country. But the brothers have one last treat for Lois, one last delivery – a starter bag of culture for their sourdough bread.  Told to, “take care of it feed it, play it music and sing to it and bake with it,” she isn’t quite sure what to do with it.

Indeed, Lois soon finds herself learning to make bread. A bread so delicious, it might even open new opportunities that could alter her future. But is the bread really good enough to sell in the mysterious underground?

Well, it has certainly caught someone’s eye and Lois better be careful or her starter won’t be all she has to lose.

(Think of Chuck Palahniuk’s Fight Club but with farmers and local merchants).

This magical, adventurous journey Sloan has written for readers to follow along and perhaps share similar circumstances with Lois.  Not to mention the potential for love, humor, and the art of questioning.  After reading Sloan’s second novel, I understand how fellow readers follow particular authors, not only subsequent standalone works but also series.  I’d say Sourdough sparked the beginnings of my journeys in the pursuit of upcoming and new releases of authors.

Robin Sloan, who previously wrote Mr. Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore released Sourdough in September of last year.

Formats Available:  Audiobook, Book, e-Book

Reviewed by Micah, St. Matthews Branch


A Belated Review of Player Piano by Kurt Vonnegut

“Those who live by electronics, die by electronics. Sic semper tyrannis.” — Ed Finnerty, Player Piano

The following is a selection of articles recently published in well-known publications:

When it is neither possible nor practical to perform an experiment to either prove or disprove a hypothesis or question, one still has an option at his or her disposal: the thought experiment, which involves the theoretical examination of a situation and the use of logic to determine the accompanying results that are possible or even likely.


In 1952, Kurt Vonnegut published his first work of fiction entitled Player Piano that employed the method mentioned above.  Specifically, Mr. Vonnegut imagined a future for the United States in which labor has been replaced entirely with automated machines, a situation that certainly would have required the power of imagination at the time of its publication.  In this imagined future, consumer need for the entire country is determined by a central computer that directs industry accordingly, thus producing the supply that matches the calculated demand.

American society finds itself divided in to two classes: the engineers and managers, a patrician minority that oversees the machines, and the remainder of the population consisting of a plebeian majority that is in the paid service of the government performing menial work.  For the plebs, life has become meaningless and pointless, since they are unable utilize those innate skills and talents that they would so desperately like to use; disillusionment and despondency is universal.

However, although a sequestered elite, all are not true believers among the engineers and managers.  Dr. Paul Proteus, the son of the chief designer of this Second Industrial Revolution that had relegated so many to listless lives, cannot quash his qualms about the state of society and its division of class.  Through acquaintances both new and old, Proteus navigates the ruthlessly competitive world in which he finds himself a part and becomes involved with the “Ghost Shirt Society” and the rebellion that is brewing.

Despite having been published in 1952, Mr. Vonnegut paints a disturbing and visionary picture of what life could resemble in a world dominated by machines, and when one considers the ever-evolving role of technology in every aspect of life today, there is a good deal to consider.

“And a step backward, after making a wrong turn, is a step in the right direction.” — Dr. Paul Proteus, Player Piano

Formats Available:  Book (Regular Type), eBook

Reviewed by Rob, Crescent Hill