Sourdough

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I read Robin Sloan's Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore back in 2013, and enjoyed it quite a bit. I (finally) noticed that he had a "new" book out (copyright 2017), so picked it up at Rollinsford Public Library. This one's a lot of fun as well.

The protagonist/narrator is Lois Clary, a bright young programmer, lured to a San Francisco robotics company. It's a high-pressure world, requiring her to minimize the amount of time she spends on bodily functions like eating. So she subsists on "Slurry", a nutritionally complete gel "rich with probiotics". Unsatisfying, so she decides on a whim to order from "Clement Street Soup and Sourdough". They deliver, and their food ("It is the food of the Mazg!") is wonderful. Lois is hooked. She becomes their "Number One Eater".

Unfortunately "Clement Street Soup and Sourdough" turns out to be two illegal-alien brothers, run out of their apartment. And they're forced to leave the country. But one of the brothers gifts Lois with their special sourdough starter in an earthenware crock. Baking is out of her wheelhouse, but she gives it a try, and her results are good. She practices. She gets better. She starts supplying her work cafeteria with loaves. And … things start snowballing from there.

Interestingly, the "Clement Street Starter" has unusual properties. For one thing, it works better if you play music to it. It makes happy little bubbles, and occasionally seems to sing along.

Lois is an extremely likeable character. The plot is fantastic, filled with humor and many colorful characters. I hope Robin Sloan comes out with more novels, which I will try to consume in a timely manner.